Metalcore Legends Produce Another Winner
The Orange County bred metalcore pioneers are back with another huge installment in their storied career. The Stage saw a release in late October of this year, but the deluxe edition of the album just dropped on December 22nd. The deluxe edition holds the same 11 songs from The Stage, as well as six covers and some live tracks from a show in London.
The original tracks on the album, as any Avenged Sevenfold fan will tell you, represent a fantastical evolution of the band’s material. From Waking the Fallen all the way to Hail to the King, The Stage serves as a culmination of years of work and perseverance. The popularity of Hail to the King in 2013 showed that A7X is still producing catchy and relevant pieces. As far as The Stage is concerned, the group hits it out of the park immediately with the album’s title-track.
“The Stage” begins the album in hypnotic fashion, leading in with a “THX” movie preview-sounding synthesizer. The song itself possesses strong themes of humanity and the way we treat each other on this “stage” called earth. “The Stage” begins the album with a set tonality surrounding modern day dilemmas with technology, religion and all the elements we are exposed to everyday. To simply say this song and album make a statement is underplaying it.
The Stage powers forward with “Paradigm,” “Sunny Disposition” and “God Damn,” which are highlights in their own right. There’s a reason the band chose to put the four opening songs on the deluxe version a second time as live versions — they’re the strongest songs on the LP. A few specific points to look out for in these songs are the impressive instrumental shifts. “Sunny Disposition” sees the band incorporate horns, and “God Damn” features some flamenco guitar licks in the later half of the song. While uncharacteristic to A7X, these random little changes are catchy and almost indicate a shift to a more progressive output in the future.
Speaking of a progressive output, The Stage is the band’s longest album to date and it contains the 15 minute epic, “Exist.” This journey of a song gives the listener some hard rock, progressive rock, vocal breaks, violins and a voice-over to provide a truly impressive conglomerate of music. As one of the most meaningful songs on the album, “Exist” closes the LP in a glorious, heroic and inquisitive fashion.
Following the end of the original album, Avenged Sevenfold move onto some previously released covers from bands such as The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Some notable moments on these six cover tracks are the acoustic performances on “Wish You Were Here” and “As Tears Go By.” These tones, usually unfamiliar to A7X, work well here and really expand on these cover songs without copying them too much instrumentally.
A huge upside to the cover collection is “God Only Knows,” a song that is anything but a rock song that A7X take on with grace. The backing vocals serve just as any instrument in this song, bringing out a spectacularly euphoric performance from the band.
As previously mentioned, the four live tracks on the deluxe version are the four first songs on The Stage. These songs were justifiably chosen, especially “The Stage” and “God Damn,” which produce some of the catchiest lyrics and rhythms on the whole effort. Even though the other seven songs on The Stage are also impactful, the first four are certainly the most hard hitting and immersive.
The Stage boasts some of Avenged Sevenfold’s most impressive work to date. From the screaming guitar solo on “Angels” to the lofty chorus of “Wish You Were Here,” every song on the deluxe edition offers something unique. This repackaged release took an already successful effort and found ways to expand it to new heights. Avenged Sevenfold outdid themselves with The Stage, in every element imaginable.