AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance has slammed the band's former record company Warner Music Group as "imbeciles."The label announced an AVENGED greatest hits package just days before the surprise unveiling of AVENGED's new studio effort, "The Stage", scheduling it for a December 2 release after initial rumors hinted at a December 9 arrival for the group's Capitol debut. "As far as our old label is concerned," Zacky told The National Student, "we had no idea they were even going to attempt any of that. We didn't know about that until the album was coming up; we actually thought it was quite hysterical when they were misled by a fake tweet that [FOZZY singer and close friend] Chris Jericho sent out, and that just kind of shows what kind of a label they were in the first place that they were led on by that rumor. And that's, obviously, why we wouldn't want to be with a team of people that were — I mean, I hate to use the word 'imbeciles,' but I'll go ahead and use the word — imbeciles." AVENGED SEVENFOLD lead singer M. Shadows was equally critical of Warner Music Group, telling the 101.1 WJRR radio station last November: "We're not promoting [the greatest-hits album] at all. That has nothing to do with us. They, basically, saw the [rumored release date] and, from what we understand, they are trying to undercut our new record, so they were trying to put it out the week before. And as childish as things can be behind the scenes with lawyers and stuff, as I'm sure you can imagine, this is childish on a whole new level." Shadows added: "You're gonna try to put this record out right before our new record just to undercut us and try to confuse the casual fan, like, 'Is this the new record? Or is that the new record?'… It's a record label basically digging themselves into a deeper hole, as far as I'm concerned, 'cause it doesn't look good to other bands who are potentially gonna sign there, and it doesn't look good to fans." AVENGED SEVENFOLD is locked in a legal battle with Warner Music Group over what the label claims is a breach of contract. "The Stage" debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 album chart last November. The surprise release of the disc, which was announced the night it went on sale, earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in eleven years. It sold 76,000 copies in its first week, less than half the tally of its previous two efforts. The group made the album available at midnight on October 27 with almost no promotion beforehand, save for the arrival of a new song one week earlier. "For us, it was about surprising our fans," Zacky told The National Student. "Because, for [the band's previous album] 'Hail To The King', we did the three-month roll-out and we could sense the boredom in our fans: 'Oh, AVENGED is trolling us. They're doing the campaign and doing scavenger hunts, just release the fucking songs already! We just wanna hear the album!' This time, we gave them nothing and then we gave them the album, like, 'Here you go. Make up your mind!'" He continued: "Album sales weren't as good, but at what point do people critique success on how many fucking albums you sell in a week rather than how big your balls are? So for us, I think we had some pretty big fucking balls and we did some exciting shit. I think the fans appreciate that too."
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