Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage
Avenged Sevenfold is a heavy metal band hailing from California who has achieved quite some success through their very melodic sound. The group started off as a metalcore group with records such as Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet and Waking the Fallen, and then their vocalist blew his vocal chords out and needed to soften up a bit, so they began recording a much more standard heavy metal style with records such as City of Evil and Nightmare. Their last LP, Hail to the King, was met with some pretty lukewarm reviews, and it’s pretty understandable why, as the record… just sounded like a second-rate Metallica LP. Honestly, I haven’t really been listening to them as much as of recent, but I’m reviewing this because of how much the band means to me. In fact, if it was not for Avenged Sevenfold, I would not be so invested into music as I am today. They were the first metal band I got into, so without them, who knows where my music taste would’ve went. That said, that respect hasn’t made me biased of the band. I can enjoy some of their material, especially on nostalgic value, but I am also very heavily critical of their other work. Now, we have a brand new LP from the band, which was suppose to come out in December but I guess the band decided to release it earlier. Whatever, let’s get into it.
The LP opens up with the title-track, which is honestly one of the worst opening tracks I have listened to in my life. It has a really shitty organ that is completely forgotten about afterwards, and then we go into the actual song with a super cliche guitar intro and drumming, with no audible bass. Honestly, this is not even two minutes into the song, and I already am hating my decision of listening to this album. M. Shadows also sounds really bad on this song. He’s trying to give off this very Iron Maiden-esque performance, but it sounds like a drunk guy trying to sing “The Trooper”. Also, the production is just so bad on this. I know that I mentioned that the bass wasn’t audible at all, but also everything else is just mixed so awfully. The guitars are significantly lower than the drums until they have to solo or show-off melody. The song ends with a really shitty acoustic outro that is just there to cover up the fade-out of the “heavy” section, and it fails it’s job at that by being just as shitty. This song is just awful, and to add insult to injury, it’s eight and a half minutes long. We are only eight and a half minutes into a seventy-three minute album. Yikes.
Next up is “Paradigm”, which starts off with this heavy-intro where the drums completely overpower the guitars, and then M. Shadows starts singing and everything just sounds out of balance again. Who produced this thing? Seriously, I have heard some pretty bad production on some LPs, but this is pretty exceptional. The chorus of this song has M Shadows trying to sound epic and then he does a bit of a scream, which is nice to hear coming from a person who really loved their older material when I was younger, but they really aren’t that great. Honestly though, they are the best thing about this LP at this point. The rest of this song is just really generic heavy metal and following the same formula as the song before. The guitars are only upfront when they are showing off something, and then at all other times the drums are overpowering. The bass is just not there, and M Shadows sounds like a drunk guy trying to sing Iron Maiden. Next up is “Sunny Disposition”, which might be one of the funniest names I have heard for a song ever. Starts off with the same problem as the other tracks with it’s production. This song then just gets super messy, with all the instruments being played at a similar level volume, and then you throw in some MIDI trumpets which just make this laughable. There are times where I think MIDI instruments work very well, but I can assure you that this is not one of those times. The song pretty much follows the same pattern for nearly seven minutes, which makes it pretty annoying and worthless by the end of the track. At least the bass can be heard at the dead-end of the track!
The next track is called “God Damn”, which is my reaction to how bad this LP is so far. This song doesn’t start off SUPER awful, though. It’s pretty much a basic heavy metal song. It’s pretty heavy and thrash-influenced and kind-of reminds me of what they’d release on City of Evil. It’s pretty awful lyrically, but as a whole this isn’t an awful track by any means. Especially when you compare it to the tracks before, it’s a sigh of relief. Funny how the song with the worst name is the best song on this LP so far, but I digress. Next is “Creating God”, which just starts off super awkwardly. It’s all epic, and then just gets really slow and not really knowing where it wants to go. That’s what the rest of the song just feels like after; it’s super awkward and confusing. It sounds like there’s another song being played over it at times. It’s not really as terrible as some of the previous songs, but it gets really confusing and in turn, gets really fucking annoying.
Next up is “Angels”, which starts off with a kind-of country-influenced intro, which Avenged Sevenfold has been known for doing in the past, especially on their self-titled record in 2007. While I didn’t really like their self-titled at all, I felt like tracks like “Dear God” at least went places. This song really doesn’t go anywhere. It kind of just has this idea it sticks with for it’s near six minute run. It has a bit of sections that are heavier, but otherwise it’s a pretty bland song that really feels like a filler track; at least more-so than the rest of the tracks, including the really bad ones. The outro has a lot of vocal-layers that really make the ending unbearable, and then we go into our next song, “Simulation”. Wow, talk about an awkward opening. It just goes right into the song as if “Angels” was suppose to lead into it, but it didn’t because they didn’t work on this as hard as they probably should’ve. It opens up pretty soft, and then with a gunshot sound, it goes into… the lowest I have ever heard a heavy part go into. Honestly, I had to rewind the song to make sure I didn’t lose focus or anything. I was really weirded out by this transition, and it honestly really threw the LP off track. The rest of the song isn’t even that bad, but every-time this section comes on, which serves as a pre-chorus, it just ruins the song. The song goes into a nu-metal breakdown with a microphone making weird noises. I can’t tell what M. Shadows is trying to do, but it does not sound good. The typical “solo overpowers everything” comes in this song, and then it pretty much closes with a sound I am pretty sure they got from pressing on something they shouldn’t of on a MacBook. Honestly just a completely awkward song and really kills the pace of the album.
We then go into “Higher”, we starts off with a super-low organ that might as well not be there because you wouldn’t hear it without paying super close attention, and then we go into a super-low sounding vocal part with piano. This track’s intro is so low-sounding, that them singing “take me higher” is making me laugh hard because it sounds like the band is self-aware of how low the song sounds so far. The song goes into it’s more rock-section, so it gets heavier, but remains just as bad. M. Shadows’ vocals are at their worst on this song, as whenever they try going higher, he sounds like a dying bird. Now I am laughing that the song’s title is “Higher” because when he sings higher he sounds awful. This song title is just an ironic joke on the song and the band’s vocalist, fuck it. Next up is “Roman Sky”, which kind of reminds me of “Warmness of the Soul” off of their first LP, which made me nostalgic as fuck. It’s probably the only song I legitimately enjoy as well. The guitar solo towards the end kills the mood a lot, but as a whole, it’s a decent track, which I will applaud Avenged Sevenfold for. Next is “Fermi Paradox”, which starts off as the majority of the rest of these tracks, with terribly produced, cliche as fuck heavy metal instrumental. This track is really trying it’s best to be “epic” sounding, though. M. Shadows is only making it worse with his vocals, also. Listening to this track makes me think about how Periphery had “Hell Below” before “Omega” as a sort-of waiting room for the long track of the LP, except of course, Periphery did it better in a million different ways, and to name one off the bat, the fucking MIDI on “The Stage” is really fucking awful. I honestly think the group pulled a Corey Feldman and just recorded all the MIDI on GarageBand. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire LP was recorded and produced on GarageBand or Logic. Whoever produced them must’ve scammed them or some shit, because I really haven’t heard production this bad in a mainstream rock act in a long while. And with the fade-out on this track, we begin launch into the finale… the almost 16-minute finale known simply as “Exist”.
The introduction to this track lets you know it’s going to be epic as fuck. It’s a slow fade in of a very technical-sounding guitar with some serious ambience in the background, with some additional orchestrals added into the track. This all vanishes, and then the track really kicks off with some crazy guitar work going on and some really banging drums. This is honestly some shit I feel like Dragonforce would pull off, which isn’t necessarily a negative. They have some breakdowns going on, and then it kind of continues this pattern switching from Dragonforce-esque instrumental to breakdowns for six minutes before going into an ambient silence again. A really space-rock sounding guitar comes in then, and it goes into a ballad, which is where the vocals enter. I was pretty surprised; the band released a song that the entire introduction was seven minutes without vocals. I honestly wish it was kept that way, because it was going pretty well for them. That said, the song doesn’t get super awful or anything because of M. Shadows. In fact, this feels like something that could’ve made it onto City of Evil, which I was able to respect. Also, M. Shadows isn’t trying to be insanely epic-sounding on this song , so he sounds a lot better than he typically did on this LP. The song goes into an instrumental break, which is some guitar solos and space-rock synth with the drums kind of leading into a more-epic section. I really like the synths on this track, actually! They don’t sound as fake as the trumpets that were present on this LP before. There’s this sample of some voice saying things about how there’s hope left in the world as the epic instrumental plays through. Honestly, for how terrible the majority of this LP was, this last track was actually… nice. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but it was actually a pretty decent outro, and serves the 16 minutes justice.
So overall, this LP was garbage. Most of these songs are some of the worst things I listened to this year, and the production throughout it all was pretty horrendous. The guitars sounded cliche, the drums were annoying and overpowering, the bass was non-existent, and the vocals sounded like your drunk uncle singing Iron Maiden. However, that’s not to say it was a complete waste of time. I can’t deny that I did get enjoyment out of “Roman Sky” and “Exist”, and there were some tracks that had okay elements. However, the bad tracks on this LP have got to be the worst stuff this band has put out yet. I would say, unless you are still a fan of what these guys do, you will not enjoy this LP, so don’t bother.
- Alex Brown