M. Shadows Reveals What Inspired Existential Concept of New Avenged Sevenfold Album
Avenged Sevenfold have already shared that their upcoming album Life Is But a Dream explores existentialism throughout it, but why did they decide to go down that path conceptually? During a new episode of their Trax podcast, frontman M. Shadows revealed what inspired the band's philosophical perspective.
Upon releasing the song "Nobody" earlier this month, Avenged described the new album as "a journey through an existential crisis; a very personal exploration into the meaning, purpose and value of human existence with the anxiety of death always looming." A quick glance at the lyrics to "Nobody," and it's obvious that the song captures the essence of that existential crisis.
"If you were to take like a black hole of the record and all the fringes of it, I think 'Nobody' sits right at the center. And I think it sits right at the center because the riff is huge, we are experimenting with tones and the production on it, but it also... Like, listen, nothing on the record sounds like anything else on the record — they all have their things — but 'Nobody,' for me, sounds like this solid... It's very depthy in the lyrics, it represents fully where we are coming from in terms of the concept and the headspace we are coming from," Shadows explained of the song, also calling "meaningful" and "weighty."
So, what "headspace" was he referring to?
"Me and [Synyster Gates] were exploring deeply in psychedelics through the last few years. One of those things, in particular, was 5-MeO-DMT. And I had a very tough experience in Type A personality, ego gets completely demolished, you see yourself kind of leave your body... One thing that I came out of that realizing was that life is so short. Don't put anything out unless it's bold," Shadows recalled.
"Bold was like, don't just play within your genre. Like yeah, there's a huge difference between Waking the Fall and City of Evil, but they were both playing within a genre. Yeah, it was different, but it was all within a... there was a sphere there," the vocalist continued. "And on this record, we didn't want to be a part of any of that, we wanted to just put out art that just... If we saw something or heard a sound, we wanted to figure out how to get that, and not with our normal tools."
According to an article Forbes published in 2020, 5-MeO-DMT doesn't create the typical experience once would imagine is created by other psychedelics. It's fast-acting, rather than lasting for hours, and has been shown to help with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The substance is nicknamed "the Toad," because while it can be found in plants, it's actually a type of venom secreted from a species of toad.
"It comes with such baggage when you talk about psychedelics. 5-MeO-DMT is, to me, just a medicine... I knew that when I took it, I was gonna be freaking out, I knew I would be losing myself. And when I took it, that's exactly what happened. I rose above my body and I saw the shaman putting me on my back, and I watched myself," Shadows described of the experience taking the psychedelic.
"But once you broke through, and then you realized you had died, then you realized there was no 'you' to begin with. That's where all of this, this whole thing, if you look at the lyrics... The lyrics are actually very on-the-nose, but they seem very not-on-the-nose if you don't know what this is that we're talking about."
Though the singer said the album tells the story of his experience, he assured they aren't trying to "promote a bunch of drugs" — he wants to educate people about it.
Listen to the full podcast episode below for more on "Nobody" and Life Is But a Dream. Avenged Sevenfold just announced their first set of tour dates in five years. See the dates and get tickets here, and pre-order the album through this link.