Avenged Sevenfold have returned after a seven-year hiatus with their new album Life is But A Dream… The band has created a new and more diverse sound and listening to this record, I can already picture the fan base will be divided on the band’s new avant-garde progressive metal sound. With elements of Queen, Faith No More & The Beatles all over this release, along with the band’s current take on New Wave of American Heavy Metal, they are taking a risk in trying new things and adding new elements to their sound. Some elements work and some are, lets just say, different.
The album opens with “Game Over,“ a nice acoustic guitar opening section with a subtle orchestral strings section accompanying the guitar, and sets a relaxing intro for the track. Drums kick in with the electric guitars, adding a punch with definite impact and adds to the guitar playing. The guitar solo by lead guitarist Synester Gates adds that classic Sevenfold sound with the driving drums behind it. The song, along with the whole album, also showcases vocalist M. Shadows new direction in vocal range. His vocals on this track are more reigned in on the yelling and screaming and takes more of a deeper, more bass heavy sound to it along with a lot of choirs behind him backing him. The song is their attempt at a Queen song and is a unique blend and a good track. Giving the listener the idea of where they are taking this record, and what the listener is in store for.
The following track “Mattel” starts off with atmospheric guitars and effects over the verse section creating a unique dynamic to the song. With the vocal reverb effect on the second verse section, along with the guitar playing, is reminiscent of classing Avenged Sevenfold. Shadows’ clean vocals shine again with pianos and keyboards, showing off his clean vocal range before being brought back to the gritty guitar riff. There is a heavy growl section with fierce double bass halfway through the song with leads done by dueling synth solos that segues into guitar harmonies. The song does end with a nice guitar solo by Gates near the end of the track with pounding drums and double bass into the classic Sevenfold clean vocal & drum section delivery.
“Nobody”, the album’s first single, has a up-tempo hi-hat, almost drum machine-esque intro, with a simple guitar riff. Causing the listener to instantly have that stank-face feel to the riff. Synth pads add unique dynamics, along with the vocals, into the guitar section. An addition of a brass section shows the band’s attempt to add more unique instrumentation, but sometimes Shadows’ vocals get overshadowed or are lower in the mix so it makes his vocals a little hard to stand out. The song ends with a string section building tension with subtle bass playing and wailing guitars into a nice solo with strings playing behind it before it seems like the song just abruptly ends.
“Easier” opens with a heavily vocal effected Shadows singing. A unique decision since Shadows’ voice is a standout of the band, and to bury it behind effects is kind of a tough pill to swallow, like covering Dio’s legendary vocals with Autotune. The song does have one of the heavier riffs off the entire album and the band is on point with this track, but then I feel the momentum gets stopped or tripped up by the vocal effects of the song. “G” starts off with a Rush-esque intro guitar opening section. The addition of female vocals add a nice dimension to the song. The vocals also give off a Monster Magnet feel to the talking/vocal singing style.
Now we start to get more into the experimental sound the band is attempting on this album. “(O)rdinary” starts off with a funky opening riff, sounding like something out of the 70s-80s with synths and matching guitar playing. There’re the continued vocal effects on the vocals like on “Easier” and is part one of the band’s unique new direction. The song “(D)eath” is a weird classic 50’s sounding song that reminds the listener of the Rat Pack-era style of big band music, with corresponding orchestra and piano playing sections in the opening of the song. Almost a combination of Sinatra with Shadows’ vocals, creating a “Sinatrafold” kind of sound. There is random dramatic orchestration and a build with ominous tone to it, before going back to the mellow 50’s sound to the track, before doing it one more time and then the song ends. The album closes with a piano instrumental title track and wraps up this complex and diverse album.
Overall, this record will definitely take some getting use to or will take a couple listens to grow on you. If you were expecting Hail To The King or City of Evil era Avenged Sevenfold, this is not that kind of record. The band is taking their sound into new directions and new frontiers, and I think this record could be a tough pill to swallow for some die-hard fans. With the avant-garde elements the band attempts to try to include in their sound, and the lack of metal elements in most of the album, this will be a very divisive record, making fans wonder if this album was worth the wait.