Review: Avenged Sevenfold mix the macabre and the melodic to powerful effect
David Jackson reviews Avenged Sevenfold at the Genting Arena, Birmingham
Credit where credit’s due. Of all the bands to capitalise on the metalcore explosion of the 2000s, Avenged Sevenfold are arguably the only band to have truly risen to global superstars, headlining arenas and festivals across the world.
While mainstream interest in the metalcore peaked aeons ago, Avenged Sevenfold continue to fill arenas having broken free of the genre’s shackles and infused their early sound with hard and classic rock influences, radio station friendly melodies and heavy use of their now trademark winged-skull and macabre imagery.
Fans of their early work may bemoan the band they’ve become, but guess what - evolving and widening your appeal is how you fill stadiums and play to tens of thousands of people each night.
Avenged Sevenfold (aka A7X), are out on tour on the back of their latest album The Stage which was released last October and headlined the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Friday night.
Joining them were Sweden’s In Flames and Chicago heavy metallers Disturbed.
Openers In Flames were quick to acknowledge their happiness to be playing in the city regarded by many as the birthplace of heavy metal while Disturbed heated things up with ample use of pyro and a set littered with hits including Inside The Fire, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence and their signature hit, Down With The Sickness.
A7X walked out on stage following a full run through of David Bowie’s Space Oddity over the PA with their iconic logo dominating the multiple projection screens hanging above the stage.
They opened with album title track The Stage before heading into fan favourites Afterlife and Hail to the King.
Following the lead of vocalist, M Shadows, guitarists Zacky Vengance and Synyster Gates and bassist Johnny Christ all virtually instantly made use of the extended walkway which divided the front two dozen rows of fans.
A7X may have evolved their sound but for some time, it’s been built on a solid structure of hard rock, intricate guitar solos, lengthy songs and M Shadows’ Axl-esque vocal range – all of which were in abundance at the Genting.
Their set drew heavily form their recent album with a smattering of hits from their 2007 self-titled LP and 2013’s Hail To The King. It was only 2005’s City of Evil which was largely ignored.
Early on, Shadows addressed the audience telling them they were by some distance best crowd of their tour so far.
Highlights of their set included Nightmare and Almost Easy while God Damn proved the band still has a brutal edge to their sound.
One of the stranger moments of the night was seeing the heavily tattooed, bandana and baseball cap wearing frontman lug a crate of bottled water to the front of the walkway for fans – after promising refreshments when one bottle was thrown to a fan the song before.
He went onto the joke he’d later be encouraging the wrath of the venue’s vendors for leaving them out of pocket.
While the numerous screens above the stage flashed out devil-esque imagery at regular intervals, things only got a bit ‘Spinal Tap’ once when a large, fairly unidentifiable floating four limbed creature with LEDs on its head floated above the drum riser for a while.
The sound at the Genting was spot on with both guitarists trading solos all night while relative newcomer Brooks Wackerman (formerly of So-Cal punks Bad Religion) kept the beats thundering around the arena.
A7X ended their set with Acid Rain before returning or a trio of hits which included Bat Country and fan favourite Waking The Fallen.
Avenged Sevenfold may have their detractors, but their headline set at the Genting provided why after almost two decades in the business, they’re at the top of their game.
Avenged Sevenfold played:
Hail to the King
To End the Rapture
Warmness on the Soul
A Little Piece of Heaven
* The show took place on Friday January 13. See avengedsevenfold.com/tour for future tour dates.