In 2005, I discovered Avenged Sevenfold. I was at home for the weekend, saying hi to my folks, hanging with my dog (may he rest in peace), and probably playing something I rented from Blockbuster. Because those still existed in 2005. Netflix was around, but it wasn’t even close to being the titan it is now. Also during this time, MTV2 was a lot more watchable, and near as I can tell, tried to be the white people alternative to MTV1 being all gangsta and shit. Music videos were still few and far in between, but they were usually rock videos. Which unfortunately meant there were a lot of faggotty emo videos, because emo was all the rage then.
On Saturday nights, MTV2 aired The Headbanger’s Ball: a throwback to an older show on MTV1. And on that show, I discovered “Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold. My world… Was… Obliterated. Words couldn’t begin to describe what I experienced that night.
One thing led to another, and I found myself buying “City of Evil”. Naturally, the moment I decide I like something is the exact same time the indie crowd cry like little fucking babies about how a band sold out because more than three people know they exist, but whatever. Frankly, after listening to their older stuff from 2000, I really think “City of Evil” was a tremendous step in the right direction.
The years went by, and with the releases of their self-titled album, and “Nightmare”, I remained loyal. Admittedly, bands like Blind Guardian, Sabaton, Manticora, and others came to my attention, and demanded my more immediate attention, but I still held A7 in high regard.
Right up until “Hail to the King”. Sometime after “Nightmare” hit the shelves, A7’s drummer, The Rev, passed away. It was a tragedy, and I feared that it would effect the band significantly. And if “Hail to the King” was anything to go by, I’d say that it definitely did just that.
While not a bad album, “Hail to the King” was… Boring. “Shepherd of Fire” was good, but the rest of it just didn’t seem to have the same kind of inthusiasm behind it that previous albums had. Part of it was the band in general trying for a more old school sound, and significantly less of a metalcore sound. Because I guess metalcore was going out of style, and djent was becoming the new thing or something. All I really know is the album just disappointed on virtually all fronts for me.
Also, “This Means War” sounds suspiciously like “Sad But True” by Metallica. It’s barely even subtle!
So when A7 announced their new album, “The Stage”, was coming out… Well, needless to say, I went in with my expectations set pretty low. All I can say is this: after listening to it for the better part of a week, I can say with one-hundred percent certainty that “Hail to the King” was a dud.
Let’s face it, every good band has had a dud in their career. Metallica had “St. Anger”, Korn had “The Path of Totality”, Gwar had “We Kill Everything”, Cradle of Filth had “Thornography”… The list goes on. Even a good band like Avenged Sevenfold is capable of farting out a subpar album every now and then. As long as they don’t CONTINUE the trend, all is forgiven.
Thankfully, “The Stage” is a glorious comeback. The music is way more intense than it was in 2013. The drummer is a lot more psychotic with his beats, too. The music doesn’t sound like it’s ripping anybody else off, as far as I can tell. Thus far, there hasn’t been a single skipworthy track on the entire album! Suffice to say, “The Stage” is excellent through and through.
It may take longer for A7 to put albums out anymore, but if they’re all as excellent as “The Stage” from this point onward, I won’t be complaining any time soon. I’ll just be looking forward to 2019 that much more.