Today’s Track Of The Day is “Exist” from Avenged Sevenfold‘s 2016 album The Stage.
“Exist” goes for a massive fifteen minutes and forty-one seconds, but you barely notice it. Why? Because M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates, Johnny Christ, and Brooks Wackerman, take you on a journey that has you captivated for every second of it.
“Exist” is the creative result of the band watching scientific documentaries and having a subsequent curiosity relating to the mind-boggling fact that our planet being nothing but a speck floating through space. By way of our existence, everything and everyone we have ever known or will know, have loved or hated, has saved or destroyed, has existed on this speck. Avenged Sevenfold have taken these concepts and presented them in this track.
Musically, “Exist” skillfully plays out the experience of the Big Bang and all that comes before and after. At times we are plummeting, colliding and chaotic, and others we are suspended in the serene stillness of space. Guitar, horns, strings, bass, drums, and vocals are sheer perfection throughout “Exist” in their storytelling, with guitar potentially ‘singing’ more than M. Shadows on this track.
When the vocals begin, we are on terra firma and life has begun. Just one blue dot, without any other life (if it exists) communicating with us or being there to guide or save us. Our only hope being contained on our planet.
“Sailing away, beyond the reach of anyone
Far beyond the dreams of everyone
No light to follow
A shot in the dark
Does anybody know?”
M. Shadows shared in a Metal Hammer interview that he wanted to include Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” speech, but that it wasn’t available for use. This led him to reaching out to Neil deGrasse Tyson who contributed his own speech to the closing of the song (along with an incredibly awesome drumming and guitar piece). Tyson speaks powerfully of the same observations and perspective that Sagan spoke of; just how tiny we are, and how all of us combined are our only hope, as well as being the source of all that is destructive and creative in our lives. We are all ‘sailing away’ through space together, for better or worse.
Here’s a powerful excerpt from Tyson’s speech:
“Each fabricated conflict, self-murdering bomb, vanished airplane, every fictionalized dictator, biased or partisan, and wayward son, are part of the curtains of society’s racial, ethnic, religious, national, and cultural conflicts, and you find the human ego turning the knobs and pulling the levers.”
“Exist” is an epic of a song of The Stage. I am inspired and wowed with every listen of this track and will play it for anyone that sits still long enough.