Despite announcing that their newest album wouldn’t be released until December, Avenged Sevenfold released their latest album titled The Stage. This is the band’s seventh studio album and their first with new record label Capitol Records and new drummer Brooks Wackerman (ex-Bad Religion).
The Californian band revealed the news at midnight eastern time, surprising countless fans watching their livestreamed performance on the roof of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, California. The event gave fans around the globe a chance to see Avenged Sevenfold give a live, 3D/360-degree virtual reality performance on the Universal Music Group’s new VRTGO VR platform, powered by VRLIVE’s advanced technology.
Of course, fans attended the event live in person, forming lines around the tower to experience a concert amplified by augmented reality (AR) technology. Afterward, the band mingled with the fans, taking pictures and sharing stories about the album’s release.
“The Stage” is a follow-up release to Avenged Sevenfold’s 2013, Hail to the King, which made it to number one on the Billboard 200. The new album was co-produced by the band and Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool), featuring 11 tracks tied together by the theme of Artificial Intelligence. The album itself was inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk, making it the band’s first thematic album to be released. While most people think of AI as being robots and sci-fi films, the band steers clear of any science fiction storyline. Instead, the album takes a futurist’s perspective on the rate at which the intelligence of technology is expanding and developing, and what that could mean for the future.
In an interview conducted with Rolling Stone, frontman M. Shadows said about the surprise release: [x]
“Well, man, a lot of it has to do with boredom. [Laughs] Everyone else is dropping the breadcrumbs, having four or five singles before their record comes out. It completely takes away the mystique of the record; by the time it actually comes out, you’ve already done 50 interviews about what the record’s about and is going to sound like. It’s 2016; people’s attention spans are so short at this point, who has time for three months of lead-up? You’ve got five guys over here who are very bored of that; so for us, it was about keeping the hype very short and sweet, and then executing on all levels. Here’s the record – we spent a long time on it, and it’s available for you now. And now we can all learn about the record together, after you hear it, instead of hearing all these things about it as we’re dribbling crumbs at you. We just said, ‘No BS this time — we’re just going to do everything that we want to do, from the live show to the merchandising, to how we present this thing and how we release it.'”
The album also features a guest appearance by renowned astronomer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who gives a spoken-word performance made especially for the album. M. Shadows’ stated about his involvement:
“The song came from the idea of wanting to replicate the Big Bang in a heavy-metal sort of way, like, ‘OK, this is what it would have sounded like when this happened!’ It’s like a huge classical piece. We love Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’, but no one’s really hit the Big Bang, so we did it! I wanted it to be all instrumental, and then Brian [guitarist Synyster Gates] was like, ‘Well, I think there should be some vocals on it.’ So we ended up with a compromise where it’s like, ‘OK, when the vocals come in, that’s Earth — that’s the first time that life starts after the cooling-down period of the Big Bang.’ Originally, we wanted to use a recording of Carl Sagan reading an excerpt from ‘The Pale Blue Dot’, but [his estate] isn’t really letting people use that. So we reached out to Neil.”
The band’s stealthy release was months in the making, working with Capitol Records, and kicking off a campaign that saw projections of their deathbat logo appearing throughout cities worldwide. Anticipation grew as fans speculated supposed album titles and the rumors of a December release date began to spread.
Directed by Chris Hopewell (Radiohead, the Killers), Avenged Sevenfold also released a music video for the title track The Stage. The video has since amassed over six million views on YouTube. Numerous pop-up stores have appeared in New York and Los Angeles, where fans can buy exclusive merch for the event.
Give the album a listen and tell us what you think in the comments!