I’m probably in the minority on this one, but lucky for me I don’t really care. When I found out Avenged was releasing an album in 2016, I was hyped, as their previous records (starting from their self-titled release) are some of my favorite albums I listen to.
And then they released The Stage. I was a bit confused about the title, but I did get a bit of a concept album feel when I listened to the first verses. And my first impression of the song had something to do with the vocals. I mean, my first thought was “Shadows forgot how to sing…either that or he can’t sing anymore”. I don’t know what technique he’s been using throughout this album…but it’s bad, it sounds like someone is strangling him at times! Seriously, listen to the 3rd act of the song, right before the last chorus, what is going on with his voice there?
Ugh, anyway, instrumentally this song is brilliant, Syn is doing an amazing job on the guitar as is expected of him. But vocally and lyrically? It’s a bloody atrocity. To sum it up, Avenged Sevenfold apparently took to angsty edgy teenagers as inspiration for the lyrics for not only this song, but for 3 of the first 4 songs of the album! Seriously, why on Earth did they think the community of people who post opinions on imgur and 9gag right after jerking themselves off to half naked pictures of celebrities is the place to look for inspiration for ANY SONG? Seriously, go read the lyrics, I am not going to dignify them here, I don’t want to promote things I utterly hate. To add to the melodramatic and angsty teenage vibe of this clip, the video of it is centered around the idea that we are all just puppets that are controlled by their leaders, who in turn are also controlled by someone else. You want to know what the funny part of all of this is? They actually think they are clever and upfront about it. While being upfront, it comes across as distasteful and angsty, two characteristics which are a big turnoff for me.
Moving on, I did not know what to expect from Paradigm, the second song on the album. This one is the exact opposite of the first one. It’s fast paced, has a very good chorus and it touches on the idea of merging humans and computers. But it does so in a very tasteful manner, starting with the idea that because you’re breaking down because of your human limitations, you may want to take this route in order to become basically a super human. It has good lyrics, a very good solo and one of the best choruses they have written.
With my hopes up after Paradigm, I started listening to Sunny Disposition. And my hopes for the album plummeted again. Once again, the instrumental for the song is brilliant, the trumpets on the chorus are an amazing touch. But the lyrics are even worse than in The Stage. Well, maybe not worse, but just as cringey. Take these for example: “I’d make a decision if granted the privilege / But I’m afraid my taste is unrefined / And no one likes cheap wine”. As much as I like Avenged Sevenfold, I wouldn’t listen to ANYTHING these guys would say with regards to running a country, for the same reason I don’t listen to any celebrity when it comes to issues concerning the regular people: they are so out of touch with the day to day life, they can’t possibly understand the struggles of 9-5 people.
My hopes already down, I listened to God Damn, to which they have also released a video. This one steals some of the lyrical ideas straight from Stairway to Heaven. Go read the lyrics to see what I am talking about. While not quite as cringey as previous two atrocities, it still comes short in some aspects. Mostly because I think they have used the lyrics as a sort of metaphor for world governments, because we’ve not had enough celebrities discuss this subject now, have we?
All right, I can’t do every song without people getting bored, so let’s summarize the album and its 2 major themes: “society is falling apart, bro” and “space and AI which we briefly use in 3 or 4 songs”. While listening to the album, I’ve noticed that the AI themed songs are brilliant (Paradigm, Creating God, Fermi Paradox and even Exist) while the other ones suck very badly. And I couldn’t help but wonder why, until I found out that the band had some discussions with Neil deGrasse Tyson prior to releasing this album. And it all became very clear to me as to why the AI themed songs are so good. So I’m guessing the band thought something between the lines of: “So, we got Neil deGrasse Tyson to help us with these AI songs. We need a source just as good for political and societal issues. I’ve seen these radical ideas in the comment section of 9gag and imgur. We should totally use them!”. And the end result was this album, a cavalcade of melodramatic songs mixed with brilliant ones that somehow manage to keep whatever was left of the band’s credibility alive.
I’ve seen people bash Hail to the King. Well let me tell you something. Hail to the King was an honest album. It knew what it wanted to be. A hard rock album, tribute to the bands that inspired Avenged Sevenfold. The Stage is one of those albums in which the band try too hard to be upfront, resulting in cringey lyrics, weird (to say the least) vocals and an overall vibe of “what the f**k were they thinking with this”. And when an artist needs to write a post about HOW you need to listen to an album before you begin to like it (yeah…this is a thing), much like when you need to explain a joke…it’s a bad album.