Classic rock as we know it is, whether we like it or not, slowly dying. The bands are getting older, some of them are tragically passing away (thanks, 2016), and the few bands that are still trying to keep the flame alive are either dwindling in relevance as the years go by, or the new generation trying to spur a revival more often than not fall victim to needing someone to revive them.
Hope is not all lost though, a new generation of that classic sound exists, and one of the biggest flagships of that movement is Avenged Sevenfold, now firmly comfortable on their own arena tours.
It’s odd to think that a band like In Flames , easily the heaviest band on the touring bill, are opening tonight, especially considering they’ve been going at it for almost 27 years now, at least a few years (and several more albums) more than either of the other two acts. Their sound is tight and forceful, and songs like ‘Leeches’ and ‘Bullet Ride’ sit comfortably in an arena setting. It’s a shame that the Swedes aren’t drawing crowds of this size on their own on our shores, because the colossal heights of ‘Take This Life’, and their references to their love of a strong cheddar should more than do it.
There’s two things that Disturbed  seem to like an awful lot – fire, and fisting. Indeed, if there isn’t some flamethrowers doing their thing towards the back of the stage, frontman David Draiman is pacing around, exclaiming “let me see your fists” to the crowd, and, indeed, they pump their fists stronger than the cast of Jersey Shore. ‘Stricken’ and ‘Down With The Sickness’ are staple Disturbed, but other than the sombre cover of ‘The Sound Of Silence’, which sees everyone’s mobile phone torches illuminate the room, it’s more spectacle than substance, and even seeing Draiman strut down the walkway acting like he’s on Ru Paul’s Drag Race can’t quite mask that.
As the darkness envelopes and the room slowly begins to alight, a huge cube looms over the stage, and it’s not long until Avenged Sevenfold  take to the stage to dominate the evening. ‘The Stage’ sets things off, which in itself is a track that takes you on a journey, and we’re glad to be a part of the ride. The aforementioned floating cube and the draped tapestry screens to each side of it, a production created by the team behind Cirque du Soleil, each display its own unique video to accompany the song, from the war themed ‘Sunny Disposition’ to the necrophilic ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’.
What the set highlights stronger than its impressive aesthetics is just how strong, accomplished, and majestic Avenged Sevenfold have become with the latest stage of their evolution. Gone is the gritty metalcore band of yore, and here we have before us a band who’ve earned their place as arena fillers.
‘Bat Country’ is still high octane, and the fretboard tag team of Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates was born here, ‘Almost Easy’ and ‘Nightmare’ send the crowd wild, and though the brief appearance of a huge astronaut throughout ‘Planets’ and ‘Acid Rain’ seems ultimately a little pointless, they showcase clearer than before the leaps and bounds of a frontman M. Shadows has become, especially in recent years.
With how things are panning out, don’t be surprised to see Avenged Sevenfold spoken about in the same breath as metal and rock veterans Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath in just a few more short years.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)