By VINNY CRAIG, Staff Writer

“As I arrived, naked and cold.” That is how “The Stage” starts out, both for the metal band Avenged Sevenfold and for us as humans.

Avenged Sevenfold, or A7X for short, is well known for starting out their albums with emphasizes. “The Stage” is no different, with an organ leading the way right into a nasty guitar solo. From there, each member of the five-person band introduces themselves when their instrument enters the first song on the album, also called The Stage.

The Stage is the band’s first concept album of their seven studio albums with the main subject being artificial intelligence. The album talks about the start of humans, how we have evolved, what could happen in the future as we become A.I. and ends with end of humanity.

The band’s usual hard heavy sound with strong, booming vocals took a back seat for the sake of the conceptual ways. If fans are looking for the classic A7X sound with hard driving drums, fast guitar riffs and heavy vocals, look to “God D***.”

Since the death of their drummer, Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, in 2009, the band had been looking for a consistent drummer. For their next album, Hail to the King, they went back to their heavy sound with rock hits and a heavy sound throughout. A7X changed their drummer between albums, grabbing former Bad Religion Drummer Brooks Whackerman in the process.

That change was all they needed for a change of sound. The simple drum sound from an album ago changed to a lighter, faster, more technical sound for an album that called for lighter, more technical sound.    

This album is not for everyone as it shows a more technical side of the band that some fans haven’t appreciated since their drummer died in 2009.

“This is the album where people either love it or hate it, there is no between with this one,” said the band’s lead singer, M. Shadows in a behind the scenes of the album.

The album’s eleven songs fit together, but the ending track tells the entire story of

the album from the big bang to the end of humanity. The 15-minute song has a speaking part with Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson.    

Upon first listen, the album wasn’t for me as a fan of theirs. It took several listen-throughs before it grew on me and I appreciated the musicality of what they were playing. After a few months of continuous listen-throughs, and hearing a handful of the songs live, the album made its way to my second favorite by A7X.

An extended version of the album with covers of classic songs like “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd and “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, will be released on CD, vinyl and streaming on December 22. The extended album will include the original 11 songs, the seven covers the band recorded and some live versions of song of the albums most popular songs.