Here at The Neversphere, we find the current format of album reviews to be dated. However, when our collective idols Avenged Sevenfold released their thoughtful, meticulously arranged surprise-album The Stage, we knew we had to offer our thoughts on it. We also thought of a way to once again make album reviews interesting…
By loading them full of
drama, suspense and intrigue…
“Dare we admit that our thoughts and behaviours spring from a belief that the world revolves around us?” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Enter: Our despairing protagonist, rediscovering his favourite band, having unsubscribed some albums prior…
…He hesitates before pressing play.
The heaving organ that introduces The Stage fills him with intrigue but before he can look any closer, the song breaks loose, charging forth like cavalry replacing any caution with a rush so rarely felt. He withdrew…but only for a moment. The demanding wail of M. Shadows gives an already sprawling chorus the wings to soar. If only he could do the same, he yearns. He clenches his fist throughout the righteous guitar solo, ‘How can this even be?’ he mutters to himself.
A soulful bridge gives safe passage as the pre-emptive strike draws to a conclusion. As the smoke clears, leaving naught but the gentle flicker of life, no sharper than a classical guitar…He thought of her.
Perhaps this wasn’t the safe place he had anticipated. The distracting thoughts were soon drowned out amongst the chattering drums that lead in Paradigm. He is once again immersed. The song builds itself into a powerful fury just in time for the chorus, before collapsing under it’s own pressure, tumbling into a breakdown. He can’t help but relate.
He braces for the inevitable impact, the hard reality that has broken his fall so many times in the past. But the impact doesn’t come. He relaxes as he brings a half-smoked cigarette to his mouth, ‘I’m going to need the rest of this’, he says out loud.
The creeping gloom of Sunny Disposition is unsettling, yet manageable. It’s not until the cyclonic drama of God Damn, with its toxic, unbreakable bond between guitar and vocal, that he realises half a cigarette simply won’t suffice.
The operatic commotion of Creating God is a relieving experience. ‘Finally’, he thinks ‘Someone with more drama in their life than me’. But it is short lived. As Angel builds, so does the sense of familiarity. Audioslave? No…Pearl Jam. It sounds just like Pearl Jam; Her favourite band. He hangs his head. If only he had been a Better Man. But could he have been?
Simulation provides a rare moment of reprieve; in the album and in his hectic life. Despite the demonic assault that kicks through his speakers, and the schizophrenic assortment that encompasses him, the calming feeling that Simulation brought doesn’t fade. Higher, by name and nature takes his feeling of stability by the scruff, raising it off the ground.
By Roman Sky, he’s euphoric; transcendent. Encouraged by the songs motif of inevitable loss, he takes inspiration. The strength and conviction he sees before him…there’s no wavering in the voice, no confusion; just a final parting question before the conclusion. “Shine forever true” the song calls out and deep, deep down, he feels a response.
Fermi Paradox is a welcomed distraction from the exposing, raw Roman Sky, but the urge to overcome remains in and around him, flourishing with the digital bloom that beckons album finale Exist. By this point, all that remains of The Stage is ashes and aftermath, yet strangely, all he can feel is hope; a new sense of wonder that has awoken within.
And to the illuminating, spoken-word closing contribution from Neil deGrasse Tyson, he emerges from the album experience more defeated, more fragile and more human than ever before.
If only she could see him now…