Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage (Deluxe Edition)

Avenged Sevenfold
The Stage
(Capitol Records)

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The Stage is Avenged Sevenfold’s first concept album, featuring themes of creation, destruction, and the relentless onslaught of technology, inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk. This is also their first album with their new drummer, Brooks Wackerman (of Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies, and Tenacious D among others).

The first CD includes the original 2016 release, which branched out stylistically into a more prog metal direction while still remaining unapologetically aggressive. Tracks like “Sunny Disposition” feature many out-of-the-box elements (such as a horn section) which work surprisingly well with vocalist M. Shadows’ soulful howls and heavy guitars, punctuated by Wackerman’s blast beats and artful fills.

The aggro churn of “God Damn” contrasts beautifully with songs like “Angels” and “Roman Sky,” which take it down a notch (or maybe half a notch, the album really doesn’t let up!) and feature a string section.

There’s a sort of modernized Queen feel to the slower songs, which helps to illustrate the band’s commentary on the vastness of space, the uncertainty of faith, and the possibility that it’s all a simulation.

The second CD includes some covers and live tracks which really illustrate the band’s versatility, especially their cover of the Latin traditional “Malagueña Salerosa” and the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” the latter of which starts out slow and reverb-drenched and then spins off into a sort of shoegaze-y metal hybrid. Many of the covers are songs that I never would have expected them to do, and that’s part of what makes it interesting. There are also four live tracks from the first disc, including “Sunny Disposition” with a sax player in lieu of the full brass section. The album closes with a blistering live rendition of “God Damn” that’s tight and furious.

If you’re new to Avenged Sevenfold, like I am, it’s worth noting that this album is a little different from their previous releases. However, it shows a degree of musicianship and growth that’s truly impressive and is definitely worth a listen.

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About Adrian Halo

Adrian Halo is a queer trans artist who moved from Brooklyn to the Bay Area in 2015, where he plays bass and keyboards in various projects including his own electronic/industrial music solo act, Machines With Human Skin. He also enjoys skateboarding and hanging out with his two cats, Rico Suave and Frankie Sinatra.
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