Cosmos (Image: Fox)

The members of Avenged Sevenfold made a surprise announcement last night, dropping a new, science-heavy concept album on the universe. Titled The Stage, the album is a noted departure from the band’s usual brand of heavy metal, with a press release describing it as being “inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk,” and focused on themes of artificial intelligence. To emphasize the album’s cosmic scope, the band went to one of the biggest names in the celebrity astrophysicist game today, recruiting the Hayden Planetariums’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson to lend his dulcet tones to one of its songs.

DeGrasse Tyson appears on the album’s 15-minute finale, “Exist,” a song which ”came from the idea of wanting to replicate the Big Bang in a heavy-metal sort of way,” according to band frontman M. Shadows. According to an interview Shadows gave to Rolling Stone, the band originally wanted to use an excerpt from Carl Sagan’s The Pale Blue Dot for the song, but were turned down by the late cosmologist’s estate. So instead, they contacted DeGrasse Tyson, the man who filled Sagan’s role on Fox’s recent revival of Cosmos.

According to Shadows, DeGrasse Tyson was perfectly happy to lend his voice to the band’s cosmic journey, as long as it was for the good cause of teaching Avenged Sevenfold fans about space. “We explained to him that we wanted to educate our fans, and we wanted to a voice of science in another art form, and he was like, ’Yep – if it’s for education, let’s do it!’”

The Stage features production from Joe Barresi, known for his work with bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and The Melvins. It’s currently available online, and in physical release via Capitol Records.