That’s not to say the band’s roots are ignored. In fact, Life Is But A Dream… opens with the frantic punk-meets-thrash-meets-hardcore rollercoaster of Game Over, which Shadows insists wasn’t put there to troll fans into thinking they could expect more of the same over the following 50 minutes. C’mon, this is Avenged we’re talking about here, so we just had to double-check…
“We’re not trying to fuck with people’s emotions!” Shadows grins. “It was about something that’s gonna twist and turn. The influence for us went more to something like Abbey Road – it’s Beatles-esque in the middle, and then it drives you back into this chaos. That’s where our mindset was. It wasn’t really trying to fuck with people in terms of, like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna trick you’ (laughs). But it might!”
Lyrically it does set the tone, though, as the frontman theatrically runs through a person’s life at breakneck speed (‘Changes, hormones, high school, threesome, roll call, study…’), hammering home the existential journey the listener is about to embark on.
“We’ve all been through all those things, and it shows how quickly it happens and how the only real answer is being present in all the moments, or it’ll just pass you by,” Shadows explains. “It’s like you blink one day and you’re 80 years old on your deathbed, and you go, ‘Well, how the fuck did that happen? Did I do any of the things I wanted?’”
It’s also very funny in places. One of many knowing winks on the album, Game Over contains the lyric, ‘The bestest part of waking up.’
“It was inspired by an old Folgers [U.S. coffee brand] commercial, which is so mundane and everyday, but we were like, ‘We need more syllables… the bestest!’” Shadows laughs. “We did pure stupidity for the sake of art in a cool way. Do we think ‘bestest’ is a word, no, but we think it’s kinda funny.”
“We were just having fun with certain things like that,” continues Syn. “Or there’s (O)rdinary, which is a robot that’s starting to come awake and there’s little twists of words. He’s saying things so perfectly, but then it’s like ChatGPT where it’s just brilliant but then they have a little fumbling: ‘I want to see the things that you see / I want to be the human you be.’ Or you take G, and that’s fuckin’ narcissistic God. That’s us giggling on the way to the studio like school kids while we’re going, ‘On the seventh day I thought about world peace but I decided just to take it off.’ We’re like, ‘Fuck yeah, that’s it! Fuckin’ God taking the seventh day off, motherfucker!’ A lot of those things were making us laugh and smile. Those are some of my small collaborations because the crux of this record, lyrically, belongs to Matt.”