REVIEW: AVENGED SEVENFOLD – “The Stage”
Sporting one of the greatest surprise marketing campaigns seen since Beyonce launched her self titled album, Avenged Sevenfold recently dropped their latest album The Stage and sent fans into overdrive. Was all the effort worth the outcome? This reviewer seems to think so.
Opening with one of the most distinctive songs ever created, The Stage beckons the listener into this newer sound that A7X has been working on; and, while fundamentally, it still sounds like Avenged Sevenfold, you can hear the expansive depth added to their repertoire that just makes this track scream of being more than Avenged has ever been capable of in the past. This song is a masterpiece in every sense of the word, and whether it’s the crooning vocal delivery of M Shadows, the softer guitar passage that leads into the sweep wizardry that doesn’t get any less jaw droppingly good with subsequent listens; the poignant lyrical genius creating an introspective reality-check about our own existence in this world; or the drumming of newest member Brooks Wackerman, there is no denying just how impressive this track is.
The album is filled with little idiosyncrasies that play off each other, all while following a very bleak lyrical subject matter – it’s gritty stuff, and it’s ambitious, but it works for the band. Musically however, this is possibly one of the most diverse releases to have been dropped all year in general and that is where the real ambition from the band pays off. There are still your obligatory ballads in the form of RomanSky and Angels, but it’s really through the instrumentation in each track that the band has torn down new boundaries. Incorporating a French horn section that works in conjunction with the guitars creates a very big band vibe to the track, while some, almost flamenco style guitar riffs have been used elsewhere like the outro solo of Angels, to again demonstrate the broad musical influences that the band isn’t afraid to adopt; it’s very bold.
There are several places across the album where the guitar work takes center stage and both Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates prove once again why they are one of the most formidable guitar duos in the world. The addition of Brooks Wackerman seems to have added fuel to a fire for the band as the drumming is crisp, clear and not overdone.
Closing with a fourteen minute long opus is little but the icing on the cake for this album, but the band goes on to throw a curveball in with Exist. I’m not sure if it’s due to the lack of singing on the track and the pure instrumental energy, or maybe it’s the carefully articulated spoken message from renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that rings out over the last few minutes, but there is just something about this song that really reaches out and grabs hold of the listener.Grandiose in design, effortless in execution and eloquent in delivery are the best way to describe, and this track does leave a very wanting taste in your appetite for more from the band. If you were ever looking at an impressive way to finalise an album, then this track is your blueprint.
This album is a bold statement, and while it might not be for everyone there is enough growth on this album to know that the only way for Avenged Sevenfold is up. I have always regarded Avenged Sevenfold as one of the shining lights of modern metal, and despite all their setbacks The Stage is a very clear statement that they want to remain at the forefront of the scene. Such is the majesty of this album that it very clearly and definitively breaches many musical borders, but does it in a way that still retains the core sound of the band. Expect to see this in many Christmas stockings this year.