Avenged Sevenfold pulled off the surprise of the year when they released The Stage following a spectacular campaign. The album was announced following a 3D, 360 degree virtual reality performance atop the roof of the Captiol Records building, the band's new label home following a split with Warner Bros. Records. The first week sales figures were no match for the band's two previous records, which many news outlets sensationalized. Singer M. Shadows took special note of this and penned a lengthy statement on the band's Facebook page, condemning the clickbait headlines and offered an explanation to the sales numbers with salient points.

Shadows outlined the "false narrative" featured in many headlines that pointed to the 76,000 copies of The Stage that were sold in the first week compared to 159,000 (Hail to the King) and 163,000 (Nightmare) and deemed the figures from The Stage as a bit of a flop. "Actually, 76k records on a surprise release with zero promotion and a single that had been out for 13 days with a running time of 8:30 is a failure. This kind of talk is insane and is the exact sort of narrative that plagues the failing music industry," said the singer.

"This is the sort of talk that pressures artists to write their songs around 'what works financially' and not 'what they really want to create.' People want different. People want innovation. People want art. If this wasn't a huge risk then everybody would be doing it," Shadows continued. "I haven't seen the hip hop community or country music community questioning Jeezy or Kenny Chesney about why they didn't sell more albums and crush a heavy metal band with a surprise release by more than 3k records. Sure, we sold WAY less than Hail to the King. But we feel this is a different circumstance."

The frontman pointed out the changing climate of music consumption, which now finds Apple Music with 15 million subscribers and Spotify hovering around 40 million subscribers. "You need 1,500 streams to equal one album. Who has time to stream a song like 'The Stage' or 'Exist' that many times? These two songs alone equal 25 min. So should we write 3 min. songs so we can get more streams? F--k no. Thats ridiculous," he exclaimed.

Shadows also went on to clarify his comments that he had "mixed feelings" about how well The Stage sold. "I simply meant that there is a part of me that knows a traditional release would have been easier and we could all parade around with another meaningless No. 1," the singer added. He affirmed his support for the way the band approached the record release and said he has "never judged an album based on sales. Period."

In closing, the A7X frontman stated, "I just want other artist to be themselves and not be gun-shy of new ideas just because some things work and somethings don't. Regardless of this rant I want the fans to know we will not change. Evolving album, innovative live show and playing by our rules will never waver. We have never felt so much love on a release and we truly do appreciate it. We will see you on the road!"

Read M. Shadows' statement in full here.

The Stage reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in its debut week and will embark on a European tour in January as they begin to support the record on the road. Direct support will come from rock titans Disturbed and all tour dates can be found at the A7X Facebook page.

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