Without even a moment’s notice, Avenged Sevenfold released their new album during their live-streamed concert on October 27.
I recently summarized and analyzed their highly anticipated single, “The Stage”. That article had barely been posted when the new album of the same name out came out.
The way the band went about posting it was something no one has done in the music industry. During the early parts of 2016, the lead singer, M. Shadows, hinted at a new album later in the year, but for most of the spring and summer the band stayed pretty quiet on social media. Towards the end of the summer and beginning of fall, the band’s logo began popping up on billboard signs and arenas around the world. New York, London, Toronto, and other heavily populated cities were all branded by the band’s signature symbol, the “Deathbat” Around this time, the band broke their fast from social media and posted a photo “x” over each member’s face. The speculations began to arise as to whether it meant that each member was done recording their part, or if the band was breaking up.
Later in the fall, Chris Jericho — a metal/rock podcast writer, lead singer for Fozzy, and close friend of M. Shadows — posted a photo on social media saying their would be a “live event” on October 27 and to expect big things in December. To up the hype even more, Jericho included a link to Sevenfold’s new website where the only thing on there was their new Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, DeathBot. This “robot” would give ambiguous answers to various questions about the new album and the band.
Then, without warning, Avenged Sevenfold released their single ”the Stage”. It was very well received, and only increased the excitement for their live event on Facebook, and with the way everything had been going no one was really sure what this event entailed. When October 27 came, fans were able to visit the band’s Facebook page and notice that whatever was happening was a live-streamed concert. Fans could follow a link and use Virtual Reality (VR) gear to tune in to their live-stream concert from the top of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. At the end of the concert, they announced the new album would be released immediately after.
First off, wow. The method of releasing the album was so creative with all of its uses of technology, but it made it even more special when the album came out.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, M. Shadows mentioned that the new album is their first concept album and revolves around AI, technology, and the grim future of man. Each of the eleven songs on the album are inspired by the teachings of philosophers and astrophysicists like Carl Sagan and Elon Musk; the song “Roman Sky” is even a tribute to Giordano Bruno — an man in the 1600s who theorized an expanded universe beyond the Copernican model and who was burned at the stake for a heretic.
The full album clocks in at seventy-three minutes and forty seconds, their longest yet.
I can confidently say that each second of “The Stage” is a masterpiece. Each song conveys a sense of violence and chaos, but also beauty. Songs like “Creating God” show M. Shadows’ range as a singer along with odd minor and flat notes, and irregular rhyme schemes. Each song is a form of poetry at its finest.
The most important song on the album may be the concluding piece, “Exist”. The 15-minute masterpiece is a musical interpretation of the Big Bang. The song only includes two verses and two rounds of the chorus that start around the 7-minute mark, but the most interesting part is the end. Towards the climax and descent of the song, there is a spoken-word monologue performed by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The cameo performed by Tyson is a compilation of phrases he has used in various speeches throughout his career.
I have left this album repeat and I refuse to stop listening to it. Songs like “Creating God”, “Paradigm”, and “Sunny Disposition” are so mesmerizing in their lyrical syntax as well as the fluidity on the music. While I listen to the album as I finish this article, I can confidently say this is one of the best albums of 2016, and one of my personal all time favorites. The album does everything music is supposed to do; it makes you feel sadness, joy, frustration, and it makes you contemplate and scrutinize the world we live in today.
The irony in the steps they took to release the album — which is now available everywhere for purchase — makes the album that much more special. Even if it isn’t your taste of music, I think everyone should give it a listen; Avenged Sevenfold may just change your mind about the Hard Rock/Metal genre.