Directly after their worldwide 360-degree live stream atop LA’s Capitol Records, Avenged Sevenfold released the highly-anticipated seventh studio album, “The Stage.” The album is the first to feature new drummer Brooks Wackerman and is their longest release at 73:40, beating “City of Evil” by just under a minute.
GET AVENGED SEVENFOLD’S ALBUM HERE
The LP kicks off with the title track, The Stage, a tune we got a taste for two weeks ago with the release of a video clip that at the time of writing, has already reached over 6.5 million views on YouTube. Throughout the track, vocalist M Shadows sings at the higher end of his register convincingly conveying his message about life, corruption and man’s struggle for power. Lyrically this is already some of his best work and as per previous albums, Shadows is not afraid of religious imagery or philosophical exploration.
One song in it is obvious this album’s vibe is already significantly different to any other Avenged Sevenfold release. In particular, the 5-piece seemed to have moved right away from the sound of its widely criticised predecessor, “Hail to the King.”
The following tracks, Paradigm and Sunny Disposition showcase brilliant work from newcomer Wackerman, and it becomes abundantly clear his place in the band is much deserved. Sunny Disposition is unique due to its predominant saxophone parts. The sax along with other orchestral aspects gives the tune a theatrical vibe that begs the desire for a production of “The Stage: The Musical.”
Back to back tracks Angels and Simulation are well-placed on the album and complement each other nicely. Both display the incredible talent of guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance.
Higher is a number that like many songs on “The Stage,” takes the listener on a journey. It begins with low synths before building into tight vocal harmonies and a heavy verse. Interesting drum patterns draw attention to Brooks Wackerman’s skill and creativity in songwriting whilst dramatic female vocals towards the end also bring another colour to the mix.
“The Stage” ends with 15-minute power track Exist. This song combines progressive, power metal and thrashier aspects. But being written by Avenged Sevenfold, it also combines metalcore, orchestral and rock elements. Exist is not for the faint hearted as the vocals don’t start until over 7 minutes in. However, it is a beautiful conclusion to what I’m beginning to see as the modern Dark Side of the Moon.
If I was to compare “The Stage” to any other Avenged album, I’d say it combines the drama of “Nightmare” with the diversity of “City of Evil,” but with a bigger more contemporary sound. Yet, in all honesty, you can’t compare this album to anything else Avenged Sevenfold have done. Musically and sonically they have pushed themselves to new heights and it is clear a lot of thought has gone into each individual track and how the 11 songs would all come together.
For those who enjoy conventional verse, chorus song structures, and overtly catchy hooks, this album is probably not for you. But for metal fans who love concept albums, anything with variety or hell, just some killer musicianship, listen to “The Stage” from start to finish through some good quality speakers and enjoy the journey.