Wailing drums with a guitar crunch of this generation usually evades this reviewer’s ears, but sometimes a delve into contemporary metal is soul-enriching. The average face-melting fire-squad erodes the conventional rock sound to its core while cracking up the tempo a few hundred clicks.
Some find the genre as the baby boomers saw punk: a general lack of musical suave and raw energy unsuited for public stage. The trick is to refine the fireball to a tolerable spark merely enough to take the eyebrows down an inch. This method shows in Avenged Sevenfold’s new album, “The Stage.”
The band released their new record earlier this month. Also known as A7X, they began their journey in 1999 at the sunny shores of Southern California. Making their way through seven studio albums with a soiree of section changes, the musical unit stands strong.
After the death of founding drummer and songwriter “The Rev” in 2009, the remaining members felt lost. The first replacement came from Dream Theater drummer, Mike Portnoy, merely to finish the album in production. Next came Arin Ilejay, the drummer known for A7X’s “Hail to the King” years. For the new album, the band looked to a new percussion virtuoso Brooks Wackerman. So far, the drummer’s debut is strong, proving to be highly skilled in his craft.
The album shifts away from the conventional screaming metal and works with a more technical repertoire. The musicianship throughout is prevalent, highlighted in the complex time signatures and classical harmonies. The title track, “The Stage,” sets a high standard for the remaining tracks.
Whipping out the old synthesizer from their uncle’s garage, the musicians fill the soundscape with deafening space chords to start the show. After the harmonic hemorrhage, the guitar flies proudly across the soundwaves, easing the painful pleasures from before. In call and response fashion, the drums pound the ground with the identical feel of the flaming fender. Rhythmic racehorses trample the fields in serene synchronicity as the wailing banshee brings the tale to tell.
After the message delivers, the guitar returns in stunning stature to steal the spotlight with a quick-handed solo. The power anthem goes on for a whole eight minutes, strapping listeners in for the long haul with ease. As the thunderous chaos fades away, two troubadours take the stage with dueling flamenco guitars to cleanse the audience palate for the next course, “Sunny Disposition.”
Beginning with what seems like a warm-up at the pace they’re going, the tune slows down the train to a feasible runaway status with this metal ballad. A contemplative aura surrounds with the help of a dancing keyboard and tapping foot on the gas pedal of tom-toms.
The brake finally slips, causing the locomotive mentioned to spontaneously combust down the musical track. Riding Valkyries of brass horns slow the fiery freight to a shuddering halt, bringing passengers safely to their next destination, “God Damn.”
Listeners will utter the blasphemous phrase after hearing the stark opposing sound stitched seamlessly by an artisan tailor. The percussive fluency found in the rear of this track only compares to the principal of major orchestras. The song takes the classic format for a metal tune and sends it off to the refinery for improvement.
The remaining tracks span the cosmos of craziness, varying in speed and sound from turtles with tambourines to cheetahs with chimes. Floating through the atmosphere, the songs became unpredictable clouds, pouring a precipitation of piercing rain darts one minute and back to a blanket of blissful droplets the next. Unpredictable music such as this piques the interest of even the most apathetic.
Overall, the album sits upon a pedestal well-earned by Avenged Sevenfold for their musical evolution. The greatest achievement one band can accomplish is a stylistic improvement such as this. Only through experience can one reap the benefits of aged music.
Like grandma’s basement cheese wheel or cultured aunt’s wine cellar, the appreciation for music only increases as the artists grow and ferment into the delectable decibel destroyers heard here. The album shows improvement on technical sound and high hopes for the new king of the drum throne.
The consensus is in favor for purchasing the album, given the effectiveness of pulling one into the genre solely based on musical prowess. If all the world is truly a stage, let us not be merely players but listeners as well.