VII: Sturm und Drang is the first album after lead vocalist Randy Blythe's manslaughter case and a brief hiatus after finishing the Resolution touring cycle. Randy Blythe stated that people shouldn't expect a prison record and that instead, he would "write about things that affect me very deeply", such as going to prison in a foreign country and being charged with manslaughter, as stated by Blythe.
The album's subtitle, literally translated as "Storm and Stress", indirectly refers to Blythe's experience. Blythe says he and Mark Morton were talking about how the record's theme relates to the psychology of humans reacting under extreme conditions, and they wanted a word that reflected such situations. Morton, whose mother is German, came across the term while researching German vocabulary. After which, the band agreed to the title.
Blythe calls the album "the most cohesive record" the band has done in a long time, with Blythe writing "90 percent" of the lyrics as well as main songwriters Mark Morton and Willie Adler working in collaboration on all of the tracks instead of writing complete songs individually. Blythe also stated that due to these reasons, "The record is much, much stronger for it" and is less "schizophrenic" than previous albums.
There was a guillotine
right down the hall from me, from when the Nazis
had the prison. From 1943 to 1945 they executed almost 2,000 people by the guillotine, because it was cheaper than shooting and quicker than hanging... They call it the Pankrác 'Saw Room' or the 'Axe Room'. I sat there at night, and I'd think about all those dudes that got their heads chopped off – men and women – in that place not too far from me.
— Randy Blythe talking about the inspiration behind "Still Echoes".