Interview: Avenged Sevenfold
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Like them or not, the past four months have been nothing short of fantastic for Avenged Sevenfold. Back in October 2016, the hugely popular five-piece shocked the world when their seventh studio album, The Stage, dropped quite literally out of nowhere. In the age of social media – in which bands love teasing new releases as much as possible in order to get some sweet pre-order cash – the Californians defied all convention not only in how abrupt their record’s delivery was, but also in the music itself. Supplying over 70 minutes of pure metal, with some tracks alone clocking in at a quarter of an hour long, The Stage may have been the surprise of the year for metal fans worldwide. And, much like an immense rock dropping into an expansive lake, its effects are still being felt long after the initial impact. This year, The Stage led the way to Avenged headlining a trailblazing arena tour across the UK with support from fellow rock darlings Disturbed and In Flames. Before his band’s penultimate show of the tour at a sold-out O2 Arena, guitarist Zacky Vengeance reflects on the success of the record that led him and his four brothers in arms to this point. “For us, it was about surprising our fans,” he recalls. “Because, for [the band’s previous album] Hail to the King, we did the three-month roll-out and we could sense the boredom in our fans: ‘Oh, Avenged is trolling us. They’re doing the campaign and doing scavenger hunts, just release the fucking songs already! We just wanna hear the album!’ This time, we gave them nothing and then we gave them the album, like, ‘Here you go. Make up your mind!’ “Album sales weren’t as good, but at what point do people critique success on how many fucking albums you sell in a week rather than how big your balls are? So for us, I think we had some pretty big fucking balls and we did some exciting shit. I think the fans appreciate that too,” he concludes with a laugh. One of the defining factors of The Stage has been its concept and central ideas: the entire record tackles themes of artificial intelligence, the human condition and looking to the stars for answers. “We were looking at and reading about stuff about outer space and the universe,” says Zacky.
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