Angry Metal Guy and Metal-Fi have compiled a list of their best and worst sounding albums of 2016. Avenged Sevenfold’s “The Stage” made the ‘Best Of’ list being called “the best sounding metal album” of 2016.
The production calculus here was quite simple: A7X explicitly wanted The Stage to sound as dynamic as possible without sacrificing a single ounce of its progressive glory. So they tasked two of the greatest living engineers, Bob Ludwig and Andy Wallace, to get the job done. And of course, these gentlemen delivered in spades. But even outside of this record’s obvious high caliber production pedigree, you have to give it up for A7X and their commitment to dynamics. First off, this isn’t their first dance with dynamic metal. Their last, 2013’s Hail to the King, was also quite dynamic, and really proved that you don’t have to be insanely loud to be commercially viable. In other words, The Stage’s high dynamic production wasn’t an accident. Secondly, as my interview with Mr. Ludwig revealed, A7X had several masters to choose from, one more compressed than the next since there was still some concern within the band that The Stagemight get lost in the playlist shuffle if it wasn’t mastered loud enough. But the band choose the most dynamic one anyway because ultimately they wanted to release the best sounding product regardless of any pseudo-industry volume requirement, and that takes guts! Finally, A7X have been very vocal about their disdain for the Loudness War and in my humble opinion, are currently serving as the de-facto evangelists for high-fidelity metal. These guys are really committed to the cause and with The Stage, it most certainly shows. If you are looking for the best sounding metal record of the year, this is it.