By: Joseph Kathmann
Let's address the elephant in the room first: yes, I like Avenged Sevenfold. While the band has tapered off significantly in my opinion on their last two albums, The Stage and Hail to the King, there was a time back in the 2000s when the group was on top of the rock 'n' roll world for me, churning out hits from classic LPs like Waking the Fallen and 2005's City of Evil. The latter got me into Avenged Sevenfold initially, and is one of my favorite albums from that decade. I have many personal memories connected with the band's music, from jamming out to them on break while working the Kings Island Halloween Haunt back in 2008 to having a blast with the instrumentation on various iterations of Rock Band. Unfortunately for me, the feeling of nostalgia has not caught up to the band just yet.
Before we get to the crap shoot that was Avenged Sevenfold, let's talk about the opener, Volbeat. I knew very little about the band going into their set other than the fact that they are far more relevant in the metal world today than Avenged Sevenfold is. It showed-there were almost as many Volbeat shirts in the audience as there were Avenged Sevenfold shirts, and many of those Volbeat shirts disappeared after their set. (I can't hardly blame them either) While I dug their interesting mix of Irish punk music and heavy metal, and could (mostly) appreciate the vocals of frontman Michael Poulsen, the band was otherwise pretty lifeless. It may have been the timing-the band is right in the middle of a massive, nation-wide tour with Avenged Sevenfold, and the Cincy date probably felt tacked on to them because the other band on the tour, Metallica, had to skip out on the date because of Rock on the Range's proximity clause. Regardless, the band's lack of energy combined with a similarity in most of their music made every song in this set sound pretty much the same to me. They had an extended set, too, (because of Metallica's absence) so when their hour long set was done, I was ready to move on. Unfortunately, it proved to be the highlight of the night.
I was hopeful that I was going to have a fun, nostalgia-filled set going into this show. I did lower my expectations significantly when I checked the setlist and saw a total of 3 to 4 songs from their glory years, and tonight proved to be no different: almost the entire set consisted of tracks off their recent albums. I don't mind hearing new material-if a band's on tour to promote a new album, they're going to promote it. But do we really need 11 tracks off your two most recent albums? There were several times, particularly towards the end of the set when the band forced the last two tracks off Hail to the King down our throats, that the crowd was bored out of their minds. The talking around me was louder than the music, which is saying something because it was a freaking metal show. The last two songs were a complete waste of time, time that could've been spent playing tracks their fans actually wanted to hear. And that doesn't even include the totally unnecessary "drum solo" and instrumental jam that took up 10+ minutes of the band's 80 minute set. Seriously? Why waste time on a drum solo when you have seven studio albums under your belt?
The band seems to be in cruise control right now, outside of guitarist Synyster Gates, (who is still an absolute boss and can rip any guitar to shreds) which is a shame because most of these guys are still in their mid-30s. A good example of this lack of care for basically anything occurred during "So Far Away." The band has made that song the tribute song for The Rev, and during the song the band had pictures of the great drummer on the video screen behind them. Touching, right? Until the slideshow looped after exactly five photos. Really, guys? That's all you could muster up? Five photos of The Rev? I guess cameras weren't invented until 2010. Of course this made the slideshow feel half-assed as it looped 45 times during the song. Overall, though, the problems seem to really fall on vocalist M. Shadows. Undeniably the weakest part of the band, Shadows spent most of the set pulling a Jared Leto and having the crowd sing most of his parts. Why is this even a thing? I'm all for audience participation every once in a while from the vocalist, but we paid money to hear you sing, not us. All of this would've probably been forgiven had the song selection been better, but outside of some of their classic singles, which still sound good today because of how young the band is, the set was a frustrating snooze-fest. The dude next to me, who pounded almost 100 ounces of beer in the span of two hours, was more entertaining than Avenged Sevenfold. (Hopefully he's ok....he was obviously stumbling pretty good by the end of the night.) Only in the encore, which featured a personal favorite in "Bat Country" then a rendition of another strong tune "A Little Piece of Heaven," did the band sound like the Avenged Sevenfold I was hoping to see. (There was also a hilariously staged proposal in there but whatever, that's irrelevant) It looks like we still have a few more years until the band realizes that their golden years are behind them and embraces that fact versus trying to fight it. For now, though, avoid this show like the plague. Not even an over-the-hill Metallica could save it.
Hail to the King
So Far Away
Warmness on the Soul (Instrumental Jam)
A Little Piece of Heaven
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: