The Stage

by: Avenged Sevenfold

The seventh studio long-player from the veteran California-based metal ensemble, and their first new collection of music to feature ex-Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman behind the kit, The Stage sees Avenged Sevenfold rolling up their sleeves and delivering an ambitious concept LP. Dropped with little to no promotion -- WWE superstar and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho leaked the album's original title, Voltaic Oceans, via his Instagram account a month prior to the release -- the narrative concerns itself with the Orwellian consequences of a world struggling to adapt to the myriad complexities of artificial intelligence -- there's even a spoken word appearance by celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Despite some forays into Floyd-ian space rock -- the soloing in the orchestra-driven "Roman Sky" is positively Gilmour-esque -- the 11-track set mostly sticks to the kind of propulsive, melodic carnage that fans have come to expect from the group, albeit with a progressive metal twist. Avenged Sevenfold may have expanded their sonic horizons, but The Stage is more Operation: Mindcrime-era Queensr├┐che than it is Muse, and for all its opining on nanotechnology and interstellar travel, it still feels rooted in heavy metal tradition. ~ James Christopher Monger

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