I am not objective.
I have great respect for Avenged Sevenfold and consider them one of the best bands to come out of NWOAHM. There are many things I like about this band, but one of them is that they do what they want creatively, not feeling the need to cater to anyone other than to their creative need at that moment in time when they are writing new material.
Having dropped an artistic bomb on us this morning, giving us no indication they were going to be releasing their new album prior to the rumors started just a few days ago, here we all are now ingesting, processing, and determining if what we are listening to is something we love, hate, or something in between.
Here’s my take.
This is one of the most intelligent albums I’ve ever listened to, something along the lines of Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime, Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son, or Trivium’s Shogun. Those were all highly cerebral, melodic, heavy, and epic albums. The whole concept album approach of A7x’s new release is something that has caught me completely off guard. Not to say I questioned their ability or creativity, quite the contrary, I always knew they had it in them, but after their last release, which was their most boring and commercial album to date, one that didn’t take risks, and attempted to be their version of Metallica’s Black album (by that I mean a simplified version of A7x), I expected something along those same lines.
Luckily, they kept true to their career form of doing something different every album, and they hit it out of the ballpark with this one. This is an album that will go down as one of their best for many reasons. I’ll try and describe a few.
First, the thematic whole of the album. It’s a great concept, a deep study into the potential advancements/problems of A.I., and the questions that they brings up. Maybe a future of eternal life but what does it really mean to exist if we aren’t truly men anymore but more synthetic. As a whole, it is not a concept album in that it tells a story so much as it is a concept about what A.I., the future, and our use of it will actually bring. Is it a tool, or will it become a digital god? It’s a thought piece in the form of an album.
The songwriting is full of so many things that it’s hard to nail down, but it is without a doubt some truly creative work, with a raw mix that brings out the natural elements that make this band so good. There are dissonant jazzy chords mixed into the heavy riffs, the vocals are always good and here there is no exception, the creativity of their vocal melodies has always been one of their strongest points. On this album they really play with slight offbeats more so than any other album, which brings shades of Master Of Puppets/And Justice For All era rhythm sections.
There are no weak songs on this album, but a few of my favorites are Creating God, Fermi Paradox, and Higher. Fermi Paradox and Higher are great showcases for new drummer Brooks Wackerman, he really nails on this album, his style and creativity show why this guy was chosen to replace the rather boring work of Arin Ilejay (not necessarly his fault).
The song Higher showcases the bands ability to drift between softly melodic, aggresively Voivodish dissonant heavy, with the addition of the futuristic spacey feel of the album (despite its raw mix). Fermi Paradox provides the dissonant extremes within the same musical space, contrasting such things as slow melodic vocals with blast beats backed by fast single string guitar riffing. A creative masterpiece.
There’s alot more I can write about this album, but I can sum it up by saying this will go down as one of their best, and in my mind, arguably their best. There’s just so much to this album musically and lyrically, and the way they packaged the sound, having a much more raw feel to the mix yet adding in effects that add to the futuristic vibe of the album, it creates a unique feel to this album that is a joy to listen to.
Remember the movie Alien? How it was set in the future but had a raw industrial feel to it? Clearly advanced technology to our own at the time of its release, but it connected due to the technology not so much farther removed than our own in terms of the elements that it used. This is how this album feels – Futuristic but raw and grounded in the thought processes of our time.
As listened to the album, absorbed the musical genius of it, I wrote these thoughts down about it:
Blast beat tempos with slow melodic vocal melodies that work tremendously well.
Solos filled with feel and precision.
A cross between Queensryche and Voivod.
Mature, full of vigor, life, and a band in their artistic prime.
Dissonant progressive tones mixed with Thrash aggression, adding in the epic vocal elements of the greats.
Compositionally exciting, twists and turns, bringing to mind some of the compositional approach to some of the songs from City Of Evil.
A very unique sounding album.
This is a band in their prime.
This might be their best album.
8 Pompous Puckered Lips
2 Snotty Nose Flare
Do the math dummy.
Pompous Puckered Lip = 1 point
Snotty Nose Flare = .5 point
Carlos, the Mexican King of all Metal
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