IT was the year of the surprise albums in 2016, and in October, Californian heavy-metallers, Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) dropped their seventh.
Showing off a more progressive sound, concept album, The Stage, took in themes such as artificial intelligence. This went hand in hand with this year’s live shows, in part produced with those behind Cirque du Soleil, featuring a projections on a moving rotatable cube and a massive skull-faced astronaut which appeared towards the end of the night above the drum riser.
The tour also brought together two of the finest metal vocalists in the world and Disturbed, band of the moment in part due to their phenomenal cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence pushed the headliners all the way for highlight of the night.
Brutal and brooding, and short on speaking between tracks, frontman, David Draiman, cloaked in black orchestrated the crowd like a dark conductor. His Chicago four-piece used their hour-long set to put on a heavy rock masterclass, complete with enough pyrotechnics to warm those at the back of the vast arena.
With a double helping of fan favourites, Ten Thousand Fists and Down With The Sickness to close their set, it set the bar high for what was to come.
As previous Download Festival headliners and one of the few metal bands to have a number one on both sides of the Atlantic, A7X draw comparisons with Iron Maiden and Metallica.
With three years since their last appearance in Manchester, from the off they show the confidence and swagger needed to be at the top of their game.
The band make full and immediate use of the walkway which takes them into the middle of the crowd, with energetic vocalist M.(Matthew) Shadows reaching out to as many fans as he could.
Under fields of stars and changing videos guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates are larger than life while newest member, Brooks Wackerman excels at the back on drums.
Counting Manchester United star, David De Gea as one of their biggest fans in attendance, the non-partisan crowd was mixed to his name as A7X dedicated Hail To The King to him, such is the nature of sport.
The sound went up a notch for anthem track Nightmare but new tracks such as God Damn and Sunny Disposition (with a brass section) are some of the most well received tracks with the crowd singing along to a set list again, spanning their whole career back to 2001’s Sounding the Seventh Trumpet.
The night was a highlight for fans of heavy metal, with two very different outlooks on the genre and its dynamics.
With many of the older iconic bands reaching their swansongs, the future of rock music is in safe hands. All hail the new kings.
This review was featured first on the Warrington Guardian website here (20/1/17)
Many thanks to APB PR for arrangement.