Avenged Sevenfold
Life Is But a Dream...


4.5
superb

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
June 2nd, 2023 | 2955 replies


Release Date: 06/02/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A bold reinvention that goes against everything mainstream rock and metal is doing at the minute.

I feel it’s important to lay out my position on Avenged Sevenfold before we delve into what they have produced here. With the exception of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Afterlife”, I always thought the band were… not my cup of tea, to put it lightly. Before this album, I always acknowledged the high proficiency within the group, but their brand of metalcore just did nothing for me; this was largely bolstered with the fact I couldn’t stand Matt’s nasally voice which sounded more whiny and distracting than anything else. So you might be asking yourself; “Why even bother with this new album, if it’s a band you’ve abhorred for most of their career?” If you’re a fan of A7X, the answer should clarify my position on this record and how we may look at this from very opposing viewpoints. Life is But a Dream… is at times almost unrecognisable from the Avenged many know and love, but what they’ve brazenly touched on here, and in my opinion successfully achieved, is something exciting and very different from anything commercial rock and metal is doing these days. Life is But a Dream… is so vastly distinguishable from the rest of their work, it’s hard keeping your eyes off the band’s bulging brass knackers. To put some perspective on it: my wife has loved this band for twenty years but upon listening to “We Love You”, the bemused revulsion she got from hearing it was almost as entertaining as listening to the album itself.

With this, I can sympathise with any long-standing purists out there just wanting an Avenged Sevenfold record with the usual trademarks intact. However, I approach this with a different mindset, in that I think mainstream rock and metal has been in a terribly stale state for many years now. Some years are better than others for mainstream releases, but on the whole, it yearns to have new life injected into it – bands taking risks, regardless of whether they completely succeed in their endeavours or not. For me, Life is But a Dream… unabashedly disregards anything that came before it – whilst making a concerted effort to veer fervently away from any contemporary trends – to deliver a record entirely without restraint. Make no mistake; there isn’t a liminal shift into this album’s idiosyncrasies, the band go from point A and leap right over to point C, as a result, this will come as a shock to the system for some and will certainly take everyone a few listens to fully digest it all. Thankfully, the rewards are ample. The record’s first single is a prime example, and the very same track that made me re-evaluate this band. From first listening to “Nobody”, it sounded like a shockingly repetitive prog track with a vocalist half-arsing his performance. Yet, after ambivalently hearing it that one time, there was something nibbling away in the back of my brain telling me to check it out again for days after. So, I was constantly going back to it and every time I did, I would discover furtive elements you can only extract from multiple listens. By the time I’d completely immersed myself in it, I understood the track’s gamut: this was a slow-burning masterclass in subtlety, using classical and progressive rock writing as its foundation. It’s a track completely reserved, with every aspect of its creation accounted for, and a stern focus on building up to that important crescendo.

On the whole, Life is But a Dream… is antithetical to everything going on in music today: it doesn’t hold your hand, and it requires effort in order to fully appreciate everything it has to offer the listener. It dumps you in this rich, disparate, intricately layered world and leaves it up to you to absorb all of its many, capricious antics. As I touched on earlier, “Nobody” is inspired by classical music and seventies prog-rock, however, it would be a disservice to just note those elements as it takes on so much more. The record is heavy, melodic, thrashy, avant-garde – most of the time all in one track. “G” and “We Love You” may come as a shock to some, but Avenged Sevenfold trying to sound like a Mr. Bungle/Mike Patton project is simply euphoric to me, and more surprisingly, it’s executed so competently it’s hard to believe a band like Avenged can pull off this level of genre-blending madness so seamlessly. On the whole, it’s difficult defining what these tracks sound like, because there’s so much going on and how they purposefully avoid sticking to one style for long, but one of the easier tracks to pin down is “(O)rdinary” – which is an overt homage to Daft Punk and one that stays the course from start to finish, or the beautiful, classically composed title track that ends the album with its lone piano. Other than that, with the exception of “Nobody” for being far less erratic than other songs here, each chapter goes through its own unique transformation. “Beautiful Morning”, for example, is a harsh blend of nineties alt-rock and grunge, with a sprinkle of their metalcore roots and the album’s main mantra: sending you into the bowels of Life is But a Dream…’s cosmic rabbit hole.

I’m sure Avenged Sevenfold is prepared for the fan-blowback for this album. At times Life is But a Dream… sounds like it’s wilfully antagonistic, but in a sense, I feel that’s its biggest asset. It has been frequently documented that rock and metal is becoming less and less relevant, but to me it’s no surprise when the bands in these genres rely so rigidly on the myopic formulas like it is dogma. Again, maybe it’s because I was never a fan of this band, but to hear a band of Avenged Sevenfold’s venerable stature writing an avant-garde rock album and literally going against everything that’s going on today, it’s hard not to commend their daring aspirations. Matt’s voice sounds very different to what it did even one album ago, but the dullness in his voice just works so well here, delivering a wide array of performances that meet the needs of this bipolar experience. If you’re a long-time fan of the band, there are definitely hints of their signature sound in here – namely the ripping solo in “Cosmic” or the high-octane first half of “Game Over” – but Life is But a Dream… is so much more than that; it’s a complex series of moods and styles, underpinning the existential themes pertaining to the album. Life is But a Dream… feels like a stage play, brimming with grand highs and poignant, muse-filled lows, and the outcome is effective.

Ultimately, Life is But a Dream… is the real deal. Avenged didn’t come up with a half-baked idea here and got cold feet halfway through its development, they see this through to the end. This will piss people off, there's no doubt about that, but I think it’s an album that will be looked on very fondly in ten years’ time, because the quality of writing here speaks for itself. This was clearly made by music lovers, writing music they want to write because they love the craft. As I said earlier; mainstream bands that are in Avenged’s position, very few of them are taking the risks. This is a very important record because it not only challenges this talking point, it challenges the listener and gives them a very rewarding experience at the end of it, one that will broaden minds and maybe get them to check out bands like Mr. Bungle or Frank Zappa. In short, whatever your thoughts are on the band, leave your preconceived notions at the door and give it a try, Life is But a Dream… is set to be one of the best albums of 2023.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


18241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if only 20 year old me saw me now

TheAntichrist
June 2nd 2023


4053 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

sounds like a7x has been listening to cynic, alice in chains, and pop music

MoM
June 2nd 2023


5994 Comments


I wonder what would happen if they started listening to more Defeated Sanity and Benighted and Demilich

ShapeOfJizzToCum
June 2nd 2023


858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So mad that Im gonna have to listen to this whole album out of sheer curiosity at this point.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


18241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@theantichrist



Yeah, A Beautiful Morning has a massive Alice in chains vibe to it

Spec
June 2nd 2023


39363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn’t really like the singles they released but I am pleasantly surprised at how good this is. Cosmic might be their best work yet.

veninblazer
June 2nd 2023


16835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

wow i really need to pack it up this is the true review tbh, would pos if i could



album surprised me, i was hoping to finally shed my old image but these madlads roped me back in

JoyfulPlatypus
June 2nd 2023


805 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Be real cool if all the people who gave this a 1 before it actually came out would have their scores wiped...I swear at least half of the 1's were there like a weak ago.



Fantastic review!! Gonna spin this again tonight and I'm looking forward to it.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


21096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"Be real cool if all the people who gave this a 1 before it actually came out would have their scores wiped...I swear at least half of the 1's were there like a weak ago."



Agreed, and one of those users (newsteamchannel4) attacked me by name for calling out the 1s. Annoying as hell

Spec
June 2nd 2023


39363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It’s somewhat of a tradition for certain bands no matter what they release. It all balances out in the end.

PsychedelicBreakfast
June 2nd 2023


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love the irony of how a majority of Sputnik users were 1 bombing this albums rating months before its release (like it's even still cool to hate this band since 2003) only to see a staff review this positive.

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


1919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another album i was TOTALLY intending on skipping but holy crap I’m now intrigued. Putting it on now

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


18256 Comments


Woah

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


1919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Update: THIS IS SHOCKINGLY GOOD SO FAR.

sneakers
June 2nd 2023


1286 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

"I love the irony of how a majority of Sputnik users were 1 bombing this albums rating months before its release (like it's even still cool to hate this band since 2003) only to see a staff review this positive."



say it on your main bozo

PsychedelicBreakfast
June 2nd 2023


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lol, main? What are you, butthurt?

MoM
June 2nd 2023


5994 Comments


Given that there are only ten 1s and three 1.5s, if that’s a majority of the site, oh Lordy. We need recruits!

PsychedelicBreakfast
June 2nd 2023


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Suuuuuure owo

MoM
June 2nd 2023


5994 Comments


Not to 1 this, mind you. Just in general

sneakers
June 2nd 2023


1286 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

-5000/5



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