As previously rumored, Avenged Sevenfold released its seventh studio album, titled The Stage, on Friday (October 28th), becoming the first-ever rock band to issue an unannounced album in both digital and physical form. The quintet revealed that their album was out during their live-streamed performance from the rooftop of the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, California on Thursday evening (October 27th). The band give a 3D/360-degree live-streamed virtual reality performance, enabling fans around the globe to view the show.

As for The Stage, it is a 71-minute, 11-song concept album centered around the theme of artificial intelligence and inspired by the work of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk. Instead of a science fiction storyline, however, The Stage takes what a press statement called “a futurist’s look at the accelerated rate at which technology’s intelligence is expanding and what that means — good and bad — for the future.”

  • The album’s epic 15-minute-plus closing track, “Exist.” features a guest appearance by award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, giving a spoken-word performance he penned specifically for the album.
  • Avenged Sevenfold has changed its sound from album to album, something guitarist Zacky Vengeance told us a while back has met with resistance from some fans: [“It’s difficult, you know, to take a step forward when you know you’re gonna be criticized by first and foremost, your own fan base. Any time you do anything different, everybody has an opinion on it. But you have to know exactly what you want to do as an artist.”]
  • Asked by Rolling Stone why they released the new album with no advance notice, singer M. Shadows said, “A lot of it has to do with boredom . . . everyone else is dropping the breadcrumbs, having four or five singles before their record comes out. It completely takes away the mystique of the record; by the time it actually comes out, you’ve already done 50 interviews about what the record’s about and is going to sound like.”
  • Shadows added, “It’s 2016; people’s attention spans are so short at this point, who has time for three months of lead-up? . . . for us, it was about keeping the hype very short and sweet, and then executing on all levels.”
  • The marketing plan and launch of the album, the band’s first for Capitol Records, was months in the making, starting with the projection of the band’s logo, the Deathbat, on buildings in cities around the world.
  • The campaign even included some misdirection, as the group had its friend Chris Jericho “accidentally” leak a fake album title and release date.