English poet John Lydgate famously said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” California hard rock band Avenged Sevenfold have been dealing with this exact situation, after releasing their eighth studio album, Life Is But a Dream… last year. In fact, at least one music critic has ripped the project for being the “worst album of 2023.”
In his rundown of the worst albums of the year — which also includes albums from Hardy and Macklemore — The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano placed A7X’s most recent album in the not-quite-coveted No. 1 spot. “Let’s move on to number one and honestly that would be the Avenged Sevenfold album Life Is But a Dream… which I do truly think is the worst album of the year,” he said in a YouTube video. Curiously, he then added, “There’s a silver lining to this cloud because I feel like Avenged Sevenfold landed this No. 1 spot because they dared to do something different. They really experimented on this LP.”
“They pulled out all the stops. They refused to let the sound and style and direction of their previous records to find them,” he continued, “but it just so happens that every weird random experiment or musical idea they employ on this album is horrendously bad and unintentionally hilarious. Like, going back to this record for this video, I was almost pissing myself laughing at some of the weird guitar parts and terrible vocal performances across the entire thing, many of which sound like the band got really into Mr. Bungle, Mike Patton and System of a Down for a very short period of time and just like took away every wrong idea from their music that you possibly could. It’s like all the zaniness but none of the musical talent poured through.”
Notably, while Life Is But a Dream... hasn’t been as commercially successful as their past efforts, Avenged Sevenfold has still found some critics appreciated the experimenting and risks they took.
“In the process of shedding any lingering preconceptions about genre, consistency and the basic rules of songwriting, [Avenged Sevenfold] haven’t just made an album that’s more out-there than any they’ve put their name to before,” wrote Kerrang’s Sam Law, “they’ve delivered a set of songs that are simply far more fun.”