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Avenged Sevenfold released a surprise album a few months back, but I hadn’t listened to it until this week… when iTunes dropped the price into a reasonable range. New drummer Brooks Wackerman is a huge improvement over Arin Ilejay, bringing a punch to A7X’s music not heard since Mike Portnoy was drumming for them following the tragic death of Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. Personally, I’m more of a fan of early Avenged Sevenfold, but I enjoy music from across their catalog.

Well, with their most recent album, The Stage, the band finally embrace their inner prog metal souls. They have always been great musicians, and “The Rev” was one of the best drummers in metal. His style was heavily influenced by Portnoy, and it always showed in his playing. This is why it is so awesome to hear these progressive influences worn on their sleeves with their new album. The final song happens to be the longest song the band has ever written, and it almost sounds as if Dream Theater wrote it. It is over 15 minutes long, but the way it is written makes it fly by. As you sail into the new year, enjoy this little piece of brilliance by A7X: