By Nicholas Hession, Opinion Writer
Metal band Avenged Sevenfold, abbreviated A7X, surprised fans with a new album titled The Stage on Friday October 28. The album came just 15 days after the album’s lone single and title track was released as a music video on YouTube. The album came three years after the band’s previous release, 2013’s Hail to the King.
On November 1, A7X’s vocalist M. Shadows released a statement on the band’s Facebook page regarding the decision to surprise fans with the new album. They attributed their decision to a boredom with the standard album-release process.“We found that a lot of the old ways people are doing things in music have become repetitive and boring to us,” Shadows said. “We want to not only pour our heart and soul into making the music WE want to make, but we want to give you a different and exciting experience.”
With The Stage, they became the first rock band to surprise their fans with an unexpected release of both physical and digitally downloaded albums! The band also released the album with the help of a live performance on the top of the Capitol Records Tower that was broadcast online in a 3D-360-degree format, according to Forbes.
The band’s method of introducing their newest album is definitely unique. The album is not a standalone collection of new material that will be followed up by a tour; it is a whole experience that other rock and metal bands should consider emulating.
The album itself is incredibly strong in many aspects. The lyrics in each song are well written and cover various contemporary issues through metaphor. The title track “The Stage” talks about growing up in an age where media dictates many people’s thoughts and compares humanity at large to the crowd at a concert. “Creating God”, the fifth track, also uses an extended metaphor. The song compares advances in science and medicine, nanobots specifically, with humanity playing God.
The album revolves around themes of science and politics’ effects on humanity, which is a stark contrast from the band’s previous lyrical themes ranging from grief to necrophilia. The lyrics are some of A7X’s most ambitious to date, and the risk has undoubtedly paid off.
The instrumentals are also praiseworthy in their own right. The album’s guitar work truly shines because it is both reminiscent of prior albums and technically excellent in ways their earlier albums are not. The guitar playing shines brightest on the second track, “Paradigm” and the fourth track, “God Damn”. The album as a whole features some of the best guitar play A7X has ever recorded.
The album’s drumming was also solid. After the band’s original drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan died, the band suffered from instability behind the kit. The band’s last four albums were recorded by four different drummers: “The Rev”, Mike Portnoy, Arin Ilejay and Brooks Wackerman respectively. Wackerman, formerly of Bad Religion, performed well in this album. A few of his stand out tracks include third track, “Sunny Disposition” and the seventh track, “Simulation”.
The album closes with a 15-minute long epic track titled “Exist” that opens with ambience, then throws the listener through a loop with some of the album’s most intense instrumentals. The vocals start seven and a half minutes into the song and come with a prettier, mellower tone. The lyrics themselves are beautiful on their own and discuss human loneliness. The album closes with a speech from renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, explaining how insignificant humanity is in relation to the rest of the universe.
A7X reached new creative and technical heights with The Stage that they and few before them have seen. Everything from the album’s release strategy, to its lyrical content, to its instrumentals, shows that they had put a lot of time into their album. The time they spent working on this album was clearly worth it, as they just released some of their best work yet.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 8th print edition.
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