AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance spoke to Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station about the status of the band's long-awaited follow-up to 2016's "The Stage" album. He said (hear audio below): "We've been home for quite a while, and during that time, [we've done] lots and lots of writing — at a lot slower pacer than usual. Now that we are a little bit older, we move around a little bit slower, but [we've done] tons of writing. We've gone to the studio. It was kind of a weird time to do anything in 2020, but that's when we felt like it was a good time to go out there and start tracking all the stuff that we had in us.
"But, like I said, we're doing it at a slow pace, so we're still in the process of recording," he explained. "We're taking it really, really slow, making sure everything is the way we like it. We're not in a big rush to get anything out, mainly 'cause we wanna get on the road, and we wanna be able to bring it to life. We wanna tour, we wanna travel, we wanna play songs that people wanna hear; we wanna expose them to some new stuff. 'Cause I just feel like rushing to put something out right now and letting it dissipate because of the void, while people are worried about where their next meal is coming from or the paycheck, the last thing in the world on people's minds is, 'AVENGED SEVENFOLD's gonna put out a new album, and that's gonna be the saving grace for us all.' And I feel like we'll take it slow, let the world get a little bit back to normal, and when people are ready, we'll know — we have a good sense of that. We'll slowly finish it up, and then unleash it when the world's ready."
This past December, AVENGED SEVENFOLD frontman M. Shadows told Kerrang! magazine that he and his bandmates had "been writing a record for a while, and most of it was already written [before the coronavirus pandemic]. But then we kinda took a break on it, and then it would be like, 'Hey, let's get together two days this week,' instead of five or six. It just started getting more casual. Then we recorded really casually, and — like I said — we're still in the middle of it: we still have all these things that we can't do. We're still trying to get string sections together, and our mixer is older and I know that they don't want him to travel right now because of COVID, so even if we got it done right now, we couldn't get it mixed. So we're just not worrying about it, you know? It's like, 'When we can, we can.' But right now, we can't. [Laughs]."
According to the singer, there are no plans for AVENGED SEVENFOLD to release new music until he and his bandmates are able to hit the road again.
"No one wants to put out the record if we can't tour it," he said. "The reality is — and no-one wants to hear this — in this day and age, rock 'n' roll just takes too long to make: you know, it's going to be a three-year record to make. And if we put that record out and then we're locked down for another year, as much as people don't want to believe this, they are not going to give a shit about a record that came out a year prior when it's time to tour. And so if it's going to take us two or three years to write a record, we're not going to put it out if we can't go play it live. We know the anticipation won't be there when the tours come around. You see it every day — if you look at iTunes or Spotify and see how quickly it all turns over, it's just weekly onto the next thing and onto the next thing again. If you just imagine putting out a record in August, and then you're not touring until next August, people don't want to hear this but they're not going to care; they're going to be like, 'What's next?' Once the GOJIRA record, or the new METALLICA record, or the new MEGADETH record comes out, they're not going to care about what came out the year prior. Our whole thing is: if it's going to take us three years to do a record, we're going to make sure we can play it live and people are going to be excited about it."
As for the musical direction of the new AVENGED material, M. Shadows said: "The [new] record sounds nothing like 'The Stage' — it's a completely new direction, and it sounds nothing like anything we've done. That's all I'll say about it: it's over the top, and it's very eclectic and wild."
AVENGED SEVENFOLD kept a low profile during 2019 and will likely not return to the road until the end of this year or early 2022. A blood blister on M. Shadows's vocal cords forced the band to cancel a summer 2018 tour with PROPHETS OF RAGE and THREE DAYS GRACE.
"The Stage" was surprise-released in October 2016. The release of the disc, which was announced the night it went on sale, earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in 11 years. It sold 76 thousand copies in its first week, 73 thousand of which were physical.
"The Stage", AVENGED's debut for Capitol, sold less than half as many copies in its first week as the group's two previous efforts, 2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King".