AVENGED SEVENFOLD — Life Is but a Dream (review)

AVENGED SEVENFOLD — Life Is but a Dream album cover Album · 2023 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Kev Rowland
I first came across Avenged Sevenfold at the time of ‘City of Evil’ and soon went back and grabbed the earlier albums, loving their sound and approach. However, for some weird reason I lost track of what they were doing after 2010’s ‘Nightmare’ and this is the first album I have heard since then. We still have the same core quartet of M. Shadows, Johnny Christ, Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance along with drummer Brooks Wackerman who joined the band in time for their last album, “The Stage’, and who is probably best known for his long tenure with Bad Religion. Seven years between albums is a long time for any band, but of course there was the small matter of a worldwide pandemic which impacted everyone on the planet. This has also allowed the band to reflect and ensure they have delivered exactly what they wanted. and the result is something which is far more expansive and simply bigger than I would have ever have expected from them. We also have a nod to the past with some lyrics and a bridge included on this which were written by The Rev.

This is a modern metal album which is a long way from their roots, but somehow is also tied to them. There is a passage on “We Love You” which is pure Freddie Mercury and Queen, but it soon switches into Nine Inch Nails and some blistering riffs. I mean, they worked with the 78-piece San Bernardino Symphony orchestra, there is also acoustic guitar, but also plenty of the riffs and attacks we have come to associate with them over the years. To me this is an album where the band have massively changed yet somehow have kept tied to their roots so while the sheer breadth is quite astonishing, they have also ensured older fans will still find plenty on here to enjoy. M. Shadows is singing the best I have ever heard from him, no strain whatsoever and a wonderfully emotional performance which is perfectly suited to the arrangements behind him, although when they decide to go hard, they do just that. In some ways this is reminiscent of the latest Slipknot album in that they also have refused to be pigeonholed and only time will tell as to which will have the biggest impact in the long run. Given that the core quartet have been together since 2002, they are solid in what each of them can achieve and have grown and changed organically, growing up along the way and there is no doubt in my mind that this is their best release to date which should both satisfy old fans and gain them many new ones.
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