Rock band Avenged Sevenfold comes flying in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week. The group's sixth studio album, "Hail to the King," opens atop the list, selling 159,000 copies in its first week (according to Nielsen SoundScan).
It's the second-largest sales week for the rock band, just shy of the debut of its last album, 2010's "Nightmare" (No. 1 with 163,000).
The new album's title track has climbed to No. 12 on the Hot Rock Songs chart, and spent the past four consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Active Rock airplay tally (viewable on Billboard.biz).
Avenged Sevenfold's opening is also the largest week for a hard rock album in more than a year. The last hard rock set to sell more in a week was Linkin Park's "Living Things," when it launched at No. 1 with 223,000 on the July 14, 2012, chart. The two bands also happen to be labelmates—both are on Warner Bros. Records.
Avenged Sevenfold's "Hail to the King" naturally also debuts at No. 1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart, the Alternative Albums chart and the overall Rock Albums chart. In total on the Billboard 200, "Hail to the King" is the band's third top 10 effort, following "Nightmare" and a self-titled set in 2007 (No. 4).
After two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party" falls to No. 2. The set sold 92,000 this past week (down 42%). It remains at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart for a third frame.
Rappers Big Sean and Juicy J are up next on the Billboard 200, as their latest albums bow at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. Big Sean's "Hall of Fame" debuts with 72,000 while Juicy J's "Stay Trippy" launches with 64,000.
"Hall of Fame" follows Big Sean's debut studio effort, "Finally Famous," which opened at No. 3 in 2011 with 87,000. As for Juicy J, "Stay Trippy" easily marks his best sales week and highest-charting album. Until this week, he never reached higher than No. 93, with 2002's "Chronicles of the Juice Man: Underground Album."
The third and final debut in the top 10 is the various-artists tribute set "Alabama & Friends." The all-star country collection — celebrating the music of the band Alabama — bows at No. 8 with 32,000 sold. The 12-song album features an array of country stars covering some of Alabama's biggest hits, along with two new songs from the veteran band itself: "That's How I Was Raised" and "All American."
As for the non-debuts in the top 10 this week: Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" rises one spot to No. 5 with 55,000 (up 20%), and Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" vaults 22-6 with 37,000 (up 148%). Both artists benefit from exposure on the MTV Video Music Awards (Aug. 25), where they each performed. Timberlake also took home the video of the year award (for "Mirrors") and was celebrated with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award.
John Mayer's "Paradise Valley" slips 2-7 with 36,000 in its second week, down 75%. Bruno Mars, who performed and won on the VMAs, rises 18-9 with "Unorthodox Jukebox." It shifted another 27,000 this past week, up 29%.
Closing out the top 10 is TGT with "Three Kings," dropping 3-10 in its sophomore frame with nearly 27,000 (down 65%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Katy Perry rules at No. 1 for a third week with "Roar," selling 448,000 downloads. The song gained 14% in weekly sales, thanks in part to Perry's performance of the cut on the Aug. 25 VMAs. "Roar" debuted at No. 1 with 557,000, then slipped to 392,000 in its second week.
At No. 2 on Digital Songs this week is a new entry from Eminem, whose "Berzerk" blasts in with 362,000 downloads. "Berzerk" is the first single from "The Marshall Mathers LP 2," due Nov. 5.
Sales for "Berzerk" are comparable to the first-week performance of his last album's first single, "Not Afraid." That 2010 song, which led "Recovery," bowed at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart with 379,000.
Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell, falls 2-3 this week with 244,000 (down 3%). Lady Gaga's "Applause," meanwhile, rises 5-4 with 213,000 (up 31%). "Blurred Lines" and "Applause" were both performed on the VMAs. (A decline for "Blurred" this week isn’t surprising, as the song had already peaked in sales weeks ago. This is its fourth consecutive weekly dip in sales.)
Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus — who sang "Blurred Lines" on the VMAs with Thicke after performing her hit "We Can't Stop" — jumps 13-5 with her new track, "Wrecking Ball." It moved 201,000 downloads in its first full week on sale (up 124%), after bowing last week with 90,000 after less than two full days of availability. (It went on sale on Saturday, Aug. 24.)
Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" is pushed back 3-6, despite a 1% gain this week. It sold 176,000, up from 175,000 a week ago.
Jay Z's "Holy Grail," featuring Timberlake, falls 4-7 with 170,000 (down less than 1%). Lorde's "Royals," like "Wake Me Up!," is also forced down the chart, slipping 6-8 with 167,000, though it gains by 16%.
Cyrus also has another song in the top 10: "We Can't Stop" descends 7-9 with 157,000 (though it's up by 10%). It was part of a three-song medley that Cyrus performed on the VMAs with Thicke, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar.
Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" (featuring Majid Jordan), another cut performed on the VMAs, returns to the top 10 after a two-week absence, climbing 12-10. The song moved 141,000 downloads — up 57%.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 1) totaled 4.92 million units, up 1% compared with the sum last week (4.88 million) and up less than 1% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (4.90 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 185.9 million, down 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (197.4 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.6 million downloads, up 2% compared with last week (22.1 million) and down less than 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (22.6 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 888 million, down 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (916.3 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Matchbox Twenty's "North" entered at No. 1 with 95,000, giving the band its first chart-topper. Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" started in the runner-up slot with 83,000.