After pulling out of their support slot for Metallica, the band made good on their promise to come back
There’s two things we know about Avenged Sevenfold – they are one of the most powerful heavy metal bands on the planet, and they keep their promises. The band was forced to cancel their support appearance in Philadelphia on Metallica’s WorldWired Tour back in May. Lead guitarist Synyster Gates had to fly home unexpectedly for the blessed birth of his first child. His wife, Michelle, went into labor early. Last night, the band kept their promise and returned to the BB&T Pavilion a month after their cancelled gig and gave their Philly faithful an explosive dose of redemption.
The band came out to AC/DC’s “Back In Black” – an appropriate entrance given the nature of the performance. They kicked things off with “The Stage,” the title track from their latest studio LP. After there long, sweeping opener, A7X tore into their old-school anthem “Afterlife” from their self-titled 2007 effort. Before the third song, lead vocalist M. Shadows pointed to a fan in the crowd holding up a sign. “Its your 21st birthday?” Shadows asked rhetorically. “Well, everyone is gonna help us sing this next one for you. This is your song tonight. It’s called ‘Hail To The King.’“
Avenged focused on their new material, Other highlights from the set included “Buried Alive,” “So Far Away,” the face-melting “Almost Easy,” and the transfixing “Acid Rain.” The band’s ultimate gem “Nightmare” was tucked nicely in the middle of the set, but stood out like an encore. Aside from being A7X’s arguably finest hour, the song has become a staple on the soundtrack of the heavy metal genre. Notably absent from the set were hits like “Welcome To The Family,” “Critical Acclaim,” “Natural Born Killers,” and “Shepherd of Fire.” However the absence of tracks like that only signify that the band’s catalog is to a point where its getting tough to chose a setlist, a goal for any band worth their salt.
The band returned after the 14-song set for an encore of “Bat Country,” one of their early signature classics that helped establish them as a mainstream juggernaut. Then, a “Why We Love Music Today” moment occurred. A successful marriage proposal took place on stage, followed by “A Little Piece of Heaven.” It reinforced the band’s vibe of family and togetherness. The evening ended with “Unholy Confessions.”
Avenged Sevenfold were Avenged Sevenfold last night. M. Shadow’s vocals were on-point. The searing guitar licks of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance were hotter than the pyro on stage. Since the Nightmare Tour wrapped up a few years ago, the band has seemed tired. They appear to have new life on this trek, though. Much of that may be due to being on tour with the mighty Metallica. Both bands are similar in sound and story.
Metallica lost bassist Cliff Burton in a tragic bus accident shortly after making what would arguably end up being the best album in their discography Master of Puppets in 1986. In 2o09, Avenged Sevenfold drummer The Rev passed away shortly before the band could record what would end up being their greatest achievement – Nightmare. Bassist Jason Newsted replaced Burton in Metallica. While the band thought they had found their forever bass player, Newsted would not be a permanent fixture in Metallica as Robert Trujillo took over in 2003 after Newsted’s departure. Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, ex- Adrenaline Mob, The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors) played drums for Avenged Sevenfold on Nightmare.
After than, Arin Ilejay stepped behind the kit but not for long. Now, the band has former long-time Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman handling percussion. After the passing of band members, both Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold have never really found a permanent replacing for their respective deceased members. One can only assume that making peace without permanence has been the catalyst for Avenged Sevenfold’s revitalization.