This week, Avenged returns with a self-titled Warner Bros. set that Shadows says represents the latest step in the band's "upward trajectory."

"You guys used to be good. What's up?!?!" "Why'd you sell out? GO BACK TO SCREAMO!!!" Opinions like that were commonplace on message boards in the wake of Avenged Sevenfold's 2005 album "City of Evil," on which the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based fivesome outfitted its speedy hard-rock chug with dramatic film-score strings, fluttering acoustic guitars and Queen-style vocal harmonies.

Frontman M. Shadows says he knew his band was in for some backlash as a result of that stylistic exploration. But two years after its release, he points out that whatever griping "City of Evil" provoked from old-school Avenged fans has been readily drowned out by the success of the album, which spawned the "TRL"-topping video for "Bat Country" and has sold 834,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

This week, Avenged returns with a self-titled Warner Bros. set that Shadows says represents the latest step in the band's "upward trajectory" -- and once again he's not at all worried about what the group's detractors might have to say.

"We've always been very ambitious in terms of our goals and our dreams of where we want the band to be," the singer says. "When we write, we're not after the craziest or the heaviest thing. We're not in the mind-set of, 'Let's thrash as hard as possible.' We're interested in making something palatable that still has heavy guitars and different metal elements. We like pop music, and we want to get people listening."