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Avenged Sevenfold – Life Is But A Dream

It has been 6 long years since Avenged Sevenfold released The Stage. Over the last 4 years they have given away precious little, saying only that they were working on their 8th studio album. As the release date approached, I found myself wondering: what direction would a band that has achieved it all, choose to take? Would they return to their roots to satisfy their fans’ sense of nostalgia or modernise their sound to appeal to a more contemporary audience? Well, I am pleasantly surprised to tell you my friends, that the answer to that is neither of those. So with a drumroll and a parting of the curtains, I invite you to take a journey with me into the highly anticipated opus from Avenged Sevenfold, Life is But a Dream.

Game Over opens the album with a beautiful classical guitar arrangement reminiscent of a Stephen Sondheim musical. Just as you settle in and lower your guard, the song thrusts you into a blistering Thrash metal segment that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Slayer record. Now I know how jarring the juxtaposition of musicals and metal might sound but trust me this actually works. Like the mad scientist who first combined ingredients to invent maple bacon ice-cream, this is one of those rare moments where two worlds collide and make something new and magical.

The next track is Mattel and the musical/crushing-metal theme continues. It blooms into a multi layered tapestry of impossibly tight and precise rhythms, creating a backdrop for vocals that traverse seamlessly between lush bathroom reverbs and filthy grinds.

Nobody was the first single released off this new album and the first time I heard it I was intrigued. Now, after multiple listens I can assure you that I have been converted. I have to take a second to pay my respects to Brooks Wackerman and Synyster Gates for the ridiculous level of musicianship that they have displayed on this track. Machine like precision yet still overflowing
with human emotion. In an age where there is much chatter about AI replacing us, I am put at ease by these musicians, that humans still have the edge in an unquantifiable, intangible way.

The second single released was We Love You. To my ears it continues the themes and variations that have already been established but fuses in little elements of Euro Trance into the mix. At 7:31 in length, Cosmic is a strong contender for my favourite track of the album. A painfully beautiful and grandiose epic, it has so much depth and is so considered in its arrangements as it invokes David Bowie influences.

Easier opens with a modulated vocal chorus line that reminds me of Imogen Heap. The creativity and experimentation continue as the song progresses and Johnny Christ showcases some really great bass lines on this track, perfectly complimenting the Hendrix-esque guitar lines. G takes us into Prog Rock territory with phrasing and grooves that one would usually expect to hear from a band like Liquid Tension Experiment. Despite me using many different bands and
artists to describe this album, it still retains a strong identity and originality of its own and maintains a coherence throughout.

(O)rdinary opens with a synth arpeggio pattern that is accompanied by funky clean guitars and modulated vocals. I get a strong Daft Punk influence from this track, specifically the Random Access Memories album.

(D)eath enters with more orchestral arrangements taking me back to the golden age of Hollywood. Imagine a crooning Frank Sinatra number that drifts off into a dark and ominous direction.

Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that the first letter of the last 3 songs in the track listing come together to spell, GOD. An interesting Easter egg that might give us more clues into the concepts of this album. I’m always impressed when artists go the extra distance to pay attention to such little details.

The grand finale concludes with the instrumental, Life is But a Dream – an extended piano movement that is elegant and alluring while maintaining a sense of morose as it builds to a frenetic climax. Production on the album is excellent and kudos has to given to Joe Barresi and Andy Wallace for bringing this mammoth vision to life by capturing vast and varied nuances found across the record.

Lyrically, the album is inspired by the writings of French philosopher, Albert Camus. A moralist whose views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. Such a choice in subject matter shows the band maturing in not just their craft but also in how they think. Perhaps they are giving us a tiny peek into the inner sanctum of their minds or maybe even urging us to delve into ours?

Commercialism is the antithesis to art and Avenged Sevenfold have thrown caution to the wind as they dive deep into this exploratory endeavour to bring us a genuinely original creation. Doing what is brave and what is easy are seldom the same thing, and I for one am grateful for the courage and vision the band has displayed in the writing of this latest album. It may not please everyone but it has most certainly left me enamoured and more importantly, it has made a powerful statement and set an example that I hope will inspire more bands to keep the hunger and the drive to continuously push the boundaries of music and art. l'art pour l'art

Life Is But A Dream… is set for release on June 2nd via Warner Records. Pre-orders are available now and can be purchased here.

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