I have a lot to thank Avenged Sevenfold for. City of Evil was probably the first metal album I purchased myself and didn’t steal off my dad. It was very aggressive and heavy or so I thought all those years ago. After the previous two albums though I got a little disheartened. Nightmare was meh, and Hail To The King was more of the same. So I’m over the moon to say A7X have taken a new angle with this album.
The Stage isn’t only a good concept album but offers plenty of variety from start to finish. Brooks Wackerman has done a fantastic job on the drums. Utilising some faster, thrasher like beats and even blast beats! It makes the heavier guitar riffs have a bit more boom behind them than on previous albums. I know everyone is going to be like ‘he ain’t as good as The Rev‘ but unfortunately not many drummers are. A7X have found a worthy replace for both The Rev and Arin Ilejay as the drums feel fresher than ever. Of course Synyster Gates owns the guitar. That is one thing that has been constant with the band, the solos are always on point. It can’t be argued that Mr Gates couldn’t shred with the best of them. Sunny Disposition shreds a classic Gates solo with plenty of twiddly dees and squeally squeals. Once you get Synyster and Zacky duelling off guitars you know what you are in for, no one syncs up quite like them.
Aside from the solos you have plenty of heavy metal and metalcore riffs. Songs like Paradigm even feature breakdowns, big beasty breakdowns. That’s one of the positives about A7X, the riffs have always been decent no matter the era. Johnny Christ lays downs some tasty bass on the bridges where the guitars are a little soft or taking a well deserved break. Oh and this is all without taking in the prog. Mmmmm I love me some progressive metal! It feels like they have pushed the boat out in the musical department as later on in the album things get a little more experimental. Exist last a whopping fifteen minutes, that’s something that would have even Tool looking at their watches.
M Shadows vocals have always been a main staple of any A7X album with his melodic power ballad baritones. Angels is the modern power ballad offering that has featured on pretty much all modern entries in the A7X catalogue. It is certainly powerful and impressive but I still miss some of his harsh screams. I know it has been a long time since we have seen M Shadows belt out some nasty unclean vocals, but I feel some songs would be amplified tenfold by them.
The Stage shows that Avenged Sevenfold aren’t just catering for the mainstream and radio plays but are really focus on the music. It is an album that was a real surprise in terms of sound, earning it a 8/10. I’ll be the first to admit when I am wrong, and I owe A7X an apology for all the times I dismissed their later career as pandering to the masses. Sorry guys…