When they began to write the album, Avenged Sevenfold turned to their influences for a change in style. Realizing that none of their favorite bands were as heavy or extreme as them, they decided to change from metalcore to a more classic hard rock/heavy metal sound with few metalcore influences. "When we started working on this record, we said, 'You know what? None of our favorite bands are super extreme, they just write really good melodic songs that are still heavy," said singer Matthew Sanders in an interview.
Sanders turned to Ron Anderson, a vocal coach that had previously worked with Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Sanders was specifically looking to add a more gritty, raspy tone to his voice and worked with Anderson for several months on this before City of Evil was recorded.
"Ron taught me how to have that grit to my voice while still having the tone. He brought all of that to the table and he brought that technique to my voice. I’ve worked with him for about a year and a half now, but I worked with him for nine months before the record," said Sanders, "I told him that I want my voice to sound different from everybody else, but I wanted those characteristics in my voice...It was one of those things that we just wanted to go all the way with it."
After the release of the album rumors spread that Sanders had lost his ability to scream due to throat surgery he had needed after Warped Tour 2003. Producer Andrew Murdock put down these rumors by saying "When I met the band after Sounding the Seventh Trumpet...Matt handed me the CD, and he said to me, 'This record's screaming. The record we want to make...is going to be half-screaming and half-singing. I don't want to scream anymore...the record after that is going to be all singing.'"
The album debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 selling over 30,000 copies. Rolling Stone praised the guitar work, giving the album three out of a possible five stars. Johnny Loftus of AllMusic rated the album three-and-a-half stars out of five and commented "...Avenged Sevenfold gets all the pieces right, and sound like they're having more fun here than in the scattershot approach of the first couple records". British magazine Metal Hammer gave the album an eight out of ten rating with Katie Parsons concluding "They have done it their way, they're having fun and who the hell can blame them?".
In addition, "Bat Country" was one of the breakout singles of 2005, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream ROck Tracks, No. 6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, and No. 1 on MTV's Total Request Live. The album was ranked No. 63 on Guitar World magazine's "100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time". Additionally, the band won Best New Artist at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, beating out Rihanna, Panic! At the Disco, James Blunt, Angels & Airwaves and Chris Brown.
- "Beast and the Harlot"
- "Burn It Down"
- "Blinded in Chains"
- "Bat Country"
- "Trash and Scattered"
- "Seize the Day"
- "The Wicked End"
- "Strength of the World"
- Matthew Sanders/M. Shadow - lead vocals
- Brian Haner, Jr./Synyster Gates - lead guitar, backing vocals and piano on tracks 1 and 7
- Jonathan Seward/Johnny Christ - bass guitar and backing vocals
- Zachary Baker/Zacky Vengeance - rhythm guitar and backing vocals
- James Sullivan/The Rev - drums and piano on track 6
- Brian Haner, Sr. - additional guitars, pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar and guitar solo on track 7
- Violinists - Samuel Fischer, Mark Robertson, Songa Lee-Kitto, Sam Formicola, Bruce Dukov, Alan Grunfeld, Larry Greenfield and Liane Mautner
- Violists - David Walther, Matthew Funes and Alma Fernandez
- Cellists - Victor Lawrence, David Low and David Mergen
- Choir Leader - Jeannine Wagner
- Choir Performers - Zachary Biggs, Colton Beyer-Johnson, Josiah Yiu, Nathan Cruz, Stephen Cruz, C. J. Cruz, Sean Sullivan, Alan Hong, Nico Walsh and Sally Stevens
- Produced by Andrew Murdock and Avenged Sevenfold
- Additional Production by Fred Archambault and Scott Gilman
- Mixed by Andy Wallace
- Pro Tools by John O'Mahony
- Assisted Pro Tools by Steve Sisco
- Mastered by Eddie Schreyer
- Orchestration by Scott Gilman, Brian Haner, Jr. and Matthew Sanders
- Additional Vocal Production by Brian Haner, Jr. and Matthew Sanders
- Drum Tech by Mike Fasano
- Guitar Tech by Stephen Ferrara-Grand