This isn’t Avenged Sevenfold’s best album. That honor will always be held by City of Evil (one long guitar solo) and, to some extent, Nightmare. 

But it’s their smartest, most ambitious, and most unique album to date. Think “The Wall” by Pink Floyd…but metal.

It’s a concept album, centering around the ideas of artificial intelligence and the implications its misuse has on humanity. Sort of like the Matrix, but less sci-fi and more genuinely scientific. This was the first thing that surprised me about the record. I never would have guessed that these metal giants would make a disc based Around scientific philosophy. Computers become the new God of society, people replace their body parts with mechanical implants so much that they aren’t human anymore, and the world gets destroyed. In my mind, this record is even an allegory for Facebook, social media, and the internet in general taking over the souls of the human race. I don’t really despise social media – but I do think our obsession with it is a bit excessive.

You would think with this concept that the album would sound digital and electronic – and once again, A7x surprise us by making it sound like their older metal core efforts, particularly on tracks 2-5. Instead of going full on 80s metal like they did on their last record, the disappointing “Hail to the King”, the band seems to have gotten back to their roots. It’s a blend of City of Evil and Waking the Fallen, especially where the guitar riffs are concerned. And while it doesn’t sound electronic, it certainly sounds cosmic. You feel like your up in the stars when you listen to it, and the cover art is a very clever play on their beloved logo, the death bat. Stars make up the skull and lightning energy makes up the wings, as you can see for yourself. 

The chorus on “Paradigm” hits mercilessly hard with speed and melody, the riffs on “Sunny Disposition” explode in your face (there’s a really pretty melody in there though at a few points), and “God Damn” combines black metal tremolo picking and drums with clean vocals to a very pleasing effect. 

The final track, “Exit” is primarily instrumental with smart time changes that go on for over ten minutes. There’s more music than lyrics on this one, but when those vocals come your ears will be blown away. This song is basically a narrative for the creation of our universe, the “Big Bang”, and it’s quite possibly the group’s most innovative song. Famed cosmologist Neil Degrasse Tyson even does a spoken word part at the end which he apparently wrote specifically for this album. I wouldn’t have ever pictured him working with a hard rock band, so this was another surprise. 

Yes, the album is full of surprises. It recaptures the brutal sound of their older albums while still remaining fresh and new to the listener. 

The only two problems I have with the disc are M. Shadows’ vocals and Synyster Gate’s guitar playing. Don’t get me wrong – both musicians still sound excellent and totally professional, but their work on this one just doesn’t capture me in the same way their previous material always did.

I award this album a 4 out of 5. If you love metal, go listen to it. Like, right now. 

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Comments
  1. Anna Kopp says:

    I loved this album! Starts out with the Phantom of the Opera and ends with a reverie. Nightmare is still my favorite but this one is a close second.

    Liked by 1 person

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