Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage review
|Release date:||October 2016|
01. The Stage
03. Sunny Disposition
04. God Damn
05. Creating God
09. Roman Sky
10. Fermi Paradox
I have never liked Avenged Sevenfold. I had some very unkind things to say about their last album, Metallica Rulez!!, and fondly remember deriding my younger brother for purchasing Nightmare when it came out. I was in middle school when the band was really in its stride, and I strongly disliked them then; nowadays when I listen to old Avenged Sevenfold I am reminded of middle school, and I feel terrible. I think, therefore, that my endorsement might carry a little more weight, as A7x had to pull off something quite impressive to win me over.
The first thing that struck me about The Stage is how old Avenged Sevenfold sounds. Given that most of the members are in their mid-30s (new drummer Brooks Wackerman is the oldest at 39), I sound like an idiot accusing Avenged Sevenfold of having become old geezers in the last decade, but mid-30s is still too old to be playing the type of not-your-dad's-Guns N' Roses-ripoff Myspace-core that they poster children-ed all over the mid-2000s. Truth be told, a lot of the sudden aging comes from M. Shadows's voice, which sounds a lot scratchier and more strained than it really should, but I feel like I am listening to a completely different band all over. After Hail To The Black Album provided them with an awkward transition out of that scene, it seems that Avenged Sevenfold has realized that the only way to grow is up.
Musically, The Stage still takes clear influence from the same phantoms of A7x past and retains a tiny bit of the octane-infused hard rock swagger that Avenged Sevenfold has always exuded; the vaguely thrash alt-heavy sound persists in a few tracks. This time, however, the atmosphere and attitude are completely reformed. The Stage isn't in your face trying to impress you with how cool it is; it's just an album of music made for music fans and for purely musical reasons, and that attitude really carries across. The songs are less riff-centric and more focused on full-scale progressions of melody, less hook-driven and more occupied with creating an atmosphere. Songs like "Higher" and "God Damn" sound a lot warmer and less violent than typical A7x fare, even though they remain heavy and powerful; everything on The Stage was meticulously thought-out, and the drums and lead guitars especially maintain such a high standard of musicianship that I couldn't help but enjoy the album even if none of the songs were any good.
Well, perhaps I should just come out and say it: The Stage is proggy. It's just very proggy. Listen to that groovy riff-and-drum combo in "Paradigm," the horn section in "Sunny Disposition," and the wonderful contrasts in "Simulation." "Exist" is 15 minutes long, for crying out loud, and the title track is eight-and-a-half (and it's not even a Metallica cover this time). The album is technical at times without being flashy or standoffish, it's somber without being overbearing, and it takes interesting turns without completely throwing Avenged Sevenfold's back catalogue out of the window. The Stage really isn't a complete departure, but a true progression.
I realize it's very much a backhanded compliment to extol a band's new album at the expense of its predecessors, but The Stage has me seriously excited for Avenged Sevenfold's future. I never thought I would call myself a fan, but this album sounds so different and so promising I can't hep but see the band in a new light. The Stage has sure footing all around - inspired performances, memorable songs, and a musical and personal maturity that makes everything seem genuine.
||Written on 16.01.2017 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
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