The Stage (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Stage
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 28, 2016 (2016-10-28)
Avenged Sevenfold chronology
Hail to the King
The Stage
The Best of 2005–2013
Singles from The Stage
  1. "The Stage"
    Released: October 13, 2016
  2. "God Damn"
    Released: March 21, 2017[1]
Deluxe edition cover
Singles from The Stage (deluxe edition)
  1. "Wish You Were Here"
    Released: October 6, 2017[2]

The Stage is the seventh studio album by American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. It was released on October 28, 2016, through Capitol Records, their only release through the label. It is the first Avenged Sevenfold album to feature drummer Brooks Wackerman, who joined the band in late 2014[3] but was not revealed as Arin Ilejay's official replacement until Ilejay's departure in 2015, because the band wanted to "make sure that it was a correct fit".[3]

Written and recorded throughout 2016, The Stage was musically different for the band, marking a progressive metal sound. It is Avenged Sevenfold's first concept album, with its main theme being based on artificial intelligence and self-destruction of society. It is the band's longest studio album at 73 minutes and 35 seconds, thus beating 2005's City of Evil by almost a minute. In addition to being their longest album, The Stage features their longest song to date, "Exist", with a run-time of 15 minutes and 41 seconds.

Upon release, the album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. It received positive reviews from critics. The title track was nominated at 60th Annual Grammy Awards (2018) in "Best Rock Song" category.[4] The Foo Fighters won the award with their track "Run".


In March 2016, Avenged Sevenfold held "March Mania", a tournament to find the most fan loved Avenged Sevenfold song voted each week by fans. On March 31, 2016, Avenged Sevenfold released a video on their YouTube channel and announced "A Little Piece of Heaven" was the winner, then gave an update on the new album, even giving a small clip of a new song, "Exist".

In October 2016, the band's logo, the Deathbat, was projected on major buildings around the world eventually leading up to the release of the first single entitled "The Stage" along with the music video.



In interviews prior to the album's release, rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance described the album as "pretty much completely aggro".[5] The Stage has been described musically as progressive metal[6][7] and heavy metal.[8] The band continued to experiment with this album; "Sunny Disposition" features a section accompanied with brass instruments, while "God Damn" is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and has one of the most aggressive and fast-paced thrash metal riffs. The song also has a melodic bridge led by acoustic guitars, with M. Shadows' aggressive vocal style over it, creating a contrast. "Creating God" utilizes a D major scale over a D minor progression in order to give the chorus and solo a unique sound. "Paradigm" shifts between 12/8 and 4/4 time signatures, while "Simulation" uses 15/8 for the verses.

"Roman Sky" includes several orchestrated arrangements, similar to the ones throughout various songs appearing on "City of Evil". "Higher" is one of the album's most melodic and progressive tracks. It features a female choir near the end, creating a very unusual and atmospheric outro harmonized with synthesizers, piano and a drifting bass line. The band's longest song to date, "Exist", in which Neil deGrasse Tyson makes an audio spoken word appearance at the end, which he wrote specifically for the album, showcases the band's further experimentation in progressive metal. Other songs also show elements of thrash metal and progressive metal, with some songs using fast drum patterns, blast beat and rapid riff structure, along with thrash-style shouting at some points. The album also includes an influence from their earlier metalcore style, including metalcore-style riffs and breakdowns, with "Paradigm" going as far as to include screamed vocals. The song "Fermi Paradox" has a black metal influence in the instrumental, with the blast beats and guitar work, but the band chose to put clean vocals over it.[9]


The Stage is Avenged Sevenfold's first conceptual album (2010's Nightmare was planned to be a concept record, but such plans were nixed following The Rev's death). The album's concept is based on the future, having such themes such as artificial intelligence and self-destruction of society. It includes a variety of science-driven themes including nuclear warfare ("Sunny Disposition"), a failed NASA test ("Higher"), Giordano Bruno's death sentence ("Roman Sky"), space exploration ("Fermi Paradox"), simulation hypothesis ("Simulation") and religion ("God Damn", "Angels"), all of these themes and events taking place on the same "stage": Earth. Thematically, the album deals with mankind's relationship with technology. Lyrical content of the album was inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk.[10]

In an interview with Rolling Stone, vocalist M. Shadows commented as examples: "The song "Paradigm" talks about nanobots – and how they can potentially be used to cure diseases and help you live forever. But how much of a human being would you be at that point? If you're 70 percent machine and 30 percent human, are you going to lose yourself? Or a song like "Creating God" – computers are getting smarter and smarter, and all of a sudden they're becoming your god; they're so much more intelligent than you, you seem like apes to them, or ants".[11]

The title-track "The Stage" talks about humanity and the way people have treated each other throughout history. It speaks from the perspective of a man growing up and realizing corruption of the world.

Closing track "Exist" was made as the band's approach to sonically represent The Big Bang, with the instrumental part in the first section (0:00-6:55) representing the creation of the universe and the second section (6:56-15:41) of the song representing the creation of Earth.[11]

Release and promotion[edit]

On October 28, 2016, the album was available for purchase on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify, following the band's live-streamed performance at the rooftop of the Capitol Records Building. Special bundles of the album were also made available on the band's webstore.

The band decided not to announce the album before its release, as vocalist M. Shadows stated "it completely takes away the mystique of the record" in an interview with Rolling Stone.

It was also announced on Chris Jericho's podcast "Talk is Jericho" that 7 new songs would be added via streaming services at some point.[12] In a later interview with Kerrang!, the band said that 6 songs are cover songs, while there is one original song that was unfinished for the album.

The first additional track, a cover version of the Mexican folk song, "Malagueña Salerosa" premiered on Sirius XM Octane on June 8, 2017.[13] The second track, a cover of Mr. Bungle's "Retrovertigo" was released on June 30, 2017. The third track "Dose", an original song, was released on July 12, 2017, as a part of a Dungeon Hunter 5 easter egg. On August 4, 2017, a cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway" was released. The song features rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance on lead vocals, and The Vandals guitarist Warren Fitzgerald on additional guitar. A cover version of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" was released on August 25, 2017. A cover version of The Rolling Stones' hit song "As Tears Go By" was released on September 8, 2017.

Along with the release of a cover of Pink Floyd's song "Wish You Were Here" on October 6, 2017, the band announced a deluxe edition of the album that includes all additional tracks and 4 live tracks, that was scheduled for a December 15, 2017 release.[14] The release was later pushed back to December 22, 2017, due to unforeseen circumstances.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Alternative Press[17]
Classic Rock
Metal Injection[18]
The Guardian[6]

The Stage received positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream music critics, the album received an average score of 74, based on 9 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Music critics praised the new progressive style adopted. The album was described as a mix of Iron Maiden's anthemic style and Dream Theater's progressive songwriting.[20] Ultimate Guitar wrote "with a renewed focus on sonic experimentation, speedy metal riffs, and deeper lyrical themes, Avenged Sevenfold release a very fine record with The Stage.

Metal Injection even went on to say that The Stage is a "masterpiece", stating 'with its brilliant composition, vast and strong collection of sounds, this is the Avenged Sevenfold record that shines the brightest amongst the stars. The Stage isn't just a great step up from their previous work, but an outstanding addition to the halls of metal and rock that will forever be remembered.'[18]

"What they did do was stick to their guns. And as the old guard of arena-filling hard rockers begin to diminish (physically, artistically), it's good to know there's someone dedicated to keeping the bar high." cited Jason Pettigrew for Alternative Press.[17] NME's Anita Bhagwandas wrote that "it's evident the band have begun a new chapter where they appreciate rather than become their influences. They've truly arrived."[19]

The album was also praised for its dynamic range and mastering quality. Angry Metal-Fi called The Stage "the best sounding metal record of 2016", noting how Avenged Sevenfold managed to break free from the loudness war.[21]

In a mixed review, PopMatters' Chris Conaton wrote "Despite being a concept album, The Stage doesn't break much new ground for Avenged Sevenfold. They sound like the same band doing pretty much the same thing."[22] Also in a mixed review, Exclaim!'s Bradley Zorgdrager cited "Though Hail to the King failed to live up to the royal expectations of its titular disguise, The Stage's grandiosity smells of overcompensation; Avenged Sevenfold's crown lies somewhere in between."[23]


Publication Accolade Year Rank
Revolver Magazine Top 20 Albums of 2016 2016
Loudwire 20 Best Metal Albums of 2016 2016
Alternative Press 30 Best Albums of 2016 2016
Ultimate Guitar Top 25 Albums of 2016 2016
Rock Sound Album of the Year 2016
The List Best Albums of 2016 2016
Kerrang! The 50 Greatest Records of 2016 2016

"-": denotes an unranked list

At the 2017 Loudwire Music Awards ceremony, the album won Metal Album of the Year.[31]

Commercial performance[edit]

Despite being a surprise release, The Stage debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with 76,000 units, with 72,000 of that figure being pure album sales.[32] As of January 2017, the album sold more than 170,000 copies in the US alone.[33]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by M. Shadows, all music composed by Avenged Sevenfold.

Standard Edition
1."The Stage"8:32
3."Sunny Disposition"6:41
4."God Damn"3:41
5."Creating God"5:34
9."Roman Sky"5:00
10."Fermi Paradox"6:30
11."Exist" (narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson)15:41
Total length:73:35
Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc
1."Dose"  4:58
2."Retrovertigo" (Mr. Bungle cover)Trevor DunnDunn4:39
3."Malagueña Salerosa" (traditional cover)Elpídio RamírezPedro Galindo4:15
4."Runaway" (Del Shannon cover, featuring Warren Fitzgerald)
  • Shannon
  • Crook
5."As Tears Go By" (The Rolling Stones cover)
  • Jagger
  • Richards
  • Loog Oldham
6."Wish You Were Here" (Pink Floyd cover)Roger WatersDavid Gilmour5:14
7."God Only Knows" (The Beach Boys cover)Wilson3:34
8."The Stage" (live from The O2 Arena in London)  9:16
9."Paradigm" (live from The O2 Arena in London)  4:43
10."Sunny Disposition" (live from The O2 Arena in London)  9:32
11."God Damn" (live from The O2 Arena in London)  4:43
Total length:56:37


Avenged Sevenfold[edit]

  • M. Shadows – lead vocals, additional guitars on "Sunny Disposition"
  • Zacky Vengeance – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Runaway"
  • Synyster Gates – lead guitar, backing vocals, co-lead vocals on "As Tears Go By", classical guitar on "The Stage", 12-string guitar on "Wish You Were Here"
  • Johnny Christ – bass, backing vocals
  • Brooks Wackerman – drums

Session musicians[edit]


Management and label[edit]

  • Larry Jacobson – management
  • Samantha Tripses – management
  • Mitra Darab – Capitol Records marketing
  • Hannah Keefe – Capitol Records marketing



  1. ^ "Rock Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on March 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "iTunes". Apple.
  3. ^ a b "A Message From Avenged Sevenfold Regarding Auditioning Drummers. - Avenged Sevenfold". October 1, 2015. Archived from the original on July 13, 2016.
  4. ^ "Nominated For 2018 Grammy Award". Avenged Sevenfold. November 28, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  5. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Guitarist Says New Material is 'Aggro'". Loudwire. December 3, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Lawson, Dom (December 8, 2016). "Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage review – stadium metallers make a forward leap". The Guardian. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  7. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage - Reviews @". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "The Stage - Avenged Sevenfold - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows Talks 'The Stage' Album + More". November 10, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  10. ^ "Listen to Avenged Sevenfold's New Album 'The Stage'". Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Avenged Sevenfold Talk Wild New AI-Themed LP, Neil deGrasse Tyson Cameo". Rolling Stone. October 28, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  12. ^ Jericho, Chris. "Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage - on Talk Is Jericho - EP295 - Talk Is Jericho". Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  13. ^ "Instagram post by Jose Mangin • Jun 8, 2017 at 9:57pm UTC". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  14. ^ "Releasing Deluxe Edition Of "The Stage."". Avenged Sevenfold. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  15. ^ ""The Stage" Deluxe Edition Release Date Pushed Back. - Avenged Sevenfold". November 9, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Stage Reviews". Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Avenged Sevenfold's sci-fi tinged 'The Stage' keeps the bar high for hard rock - Reviews - Alternative Press". October 28, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Album Review: AVENGED SEVENFOLD The Stage - Metal Injection". October 31, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Avenged Sevenfold - 'The Stage' Review - NME". December 7, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold's The Stage is the best concept album of 2016 - The Post". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Angry Metal-Fi Calls "The Stage" The Best Sounding Metal Album of 2016. - Avenged Sevenfold". January 6, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  23. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold The Stage". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  24. ^ "Top 20 Albums of 2016". Revolver Magazine. December 7, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  25. ^ "20 Best Metal Albums of 2016". Loudwire. December 8, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  26. ^ "30 Best Albums of 2016". Alternative Press. December 23, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  27. ^ "Top 25 Albums of 2016". Ultimate Guitar. December 23, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  28. ^ "Album of the Year". Rock Sound. December 27, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  29. ^ "Best Albums of 2016". The List. December 28, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  30. ^ "The 50 Greatest Records of 2016". Kerrang. December 6, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  31. ^ "2017 Loudwire Music Awards Complete Winners List + Photos". Loudwire. October 25, 2017.
  32. ^ Caulfield, Keith (November 7, 2016). "Jeezy Earns His Third No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With 'Trap or Die 3'". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  33. ^ Pasbani, Robert (January 5, 2017). "Six Metallica Albums Made The Highest-Selling Metal Albums of 2016 List; Here's The Entire List". Metal Injection. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  34. ^ "Brian Haner - Timeline - Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  35. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage". Discogs. October 28, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  36. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  37. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  38. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  39. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  40. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  41. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  42. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  43. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  44. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  45. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2016. 46. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  46. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 44, 2016". Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  47. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  48. ^ 14, 2016/ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: November 14, 2016" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  49. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  50. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  51. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  52. ^ 4, 2016/40/ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  53. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  54. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  55. ^ " – Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  56. ^ 4, 2016/7502/ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  57. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  58. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  59. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Top Hard Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  60. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  61. ^ "Top Rock Albums – Year-End 2017". Billboard. January 2, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2020.