Fire, Volume and Energy: Avenged Sevenfold Lights Up Lakewood
The Huntington Beach, Calif. based band Avenged Sevenfold has been on a steady path to the top of the metal charts for the past several years, and with the release of their latest album, the Billboard no. 1 Hail To The King, the band has solidified themselves as a staple of modern rock radio. Seems only fitting that they merge their huge commercial success with a huge touring stage show, which stopped at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood on Oct. 15.
The overall production was pretty massive. The multi-tiered stage resembled the front of a large, Gothic castle, with the band’s winged-skull logo worked into the design. Two of the archways also doubled as video screens, allowing for a barrage of photo and video images. A row of fire lined the top level on either side of the drum riser, and their performance was enhanced with plenty of lighting, smoke, explosives and a flamethrower or two. You know, there are militaries out there in the world that don’t even have a flamethrower…A7X has two.
The band opened the night with the first song off of Hail To The King, the excellent “Shepherd of Fire.” Lead singer M. Shadows, guitarists Zacky Vengence and Synyster Gates and bassist Johnny Christ (sporting a Clermont Lounge T-shirt) worked the entire stage from side to side while drummer Arin IIejay held down the beat behind his impressive kit. M. Shadow’s chants of “HEY!” during “Critical Acclaim” were spiked with fire bursts, while “Welcome To The Family” got the head’s bobbin’ in unison with the song’s chugging riff.
A7X has changed their style over the years, moving away from their screaming, hardcore roots and has matured into a more mainstream hard rock act. Apparently they’ve been listening to Guns N’ Roses and Metallica along the way, because “Doing Time” and “This Means War” echoed both of those classic bands. No harm no foul I guess … if you’re gonna borrow, borrow from the best, right?
The piano-based ballad “Fiction” was dedicated to the band’s original drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who unfortunately died in 2009. Ironically, it was the last song that Sullivan wrote for the band.
The only real misstep of the night was the addition of a guitar solo by Synyster Gates. His workman-like solo killed a lot of the momentum that had been building during the night and was met with a tepid response from the crowd. I much prefer the work he and fellow guitarist Zacky Vengence do together: their twin guitar soloing within the context of their songs, such as their signature, set closing song “Bat Country.”
While A7X’s sound has changed, they haven’t forgotten where they came from and traveled back to their 2nd release – 2004’s Waking The Fallen – for the encore of “Chapter Four” and “Unholy Confessions.”