Review: Avenged Sevenfold, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena

Last night I had the great honour of seeing Avenged Sevenfold live for the second time, at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. Last time I saw them, they were performing in the O2 in London during their Hail To The King tour, so it was great to witness how the band’s performance and stage set-up has evolved over the past few years.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s my photo-dump of the few, poor quality pictures I took on my phone.

First up on the line-up were the Swedish metal band, In Flames.  Unfortunately I was unable to watch these guys perform, as we encountered a traffic accident during our drive to Nottingham which put us behind schedule.  I was pretty gutted to miss them, because I reviewed their latest album Battles in November and I really enjoyed it.  If anyone was at the gig last night and you saw In Flames, comment below and let me know what their performance was like!

Next were Disturbed, a cornerstone of American metal music over the past couple of decades.  I had no idea what to expect from this four-piece band, as I only really knew arguably their biggest hit, Down With The Sickness. However, I was absolutely blown away by singer David Draiman’s fantastic voice.  His range and performance was incredible, and was totally not what I was expecting from him.  Overall the bands’s performance was excellent, and their 45-ish minute setlist was full of high octane riff-heavy tracks which got the crowd jumping and circle pits forming.  One moment of calm amongst the storm was the band’s beautiful cover of Simon And Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence, accompanied by a live strings section.  If you’ve never heard their cover before, you can check out the music video below:

Finally, Avenged Sevenfold took to the stage, suitably enough opening their set with The Stage.  Bassist Johnny Christ was ill during this performance, which put a dampener on things slightly, but he still performed well and I certainly didn’t notice any issues with his bass playing.

The band played tracks from across their impressive discography, including a few tracks from Waking The Fallen and Sounding The Seventh Trumpet.  I can understand that Avenged Sevenfold must find it difficult to put together setlists, considering that the band has fans of their different eras of music, but I was glad that they managed to play a good number of their older songs to keep long term fans happy.  I was a little disappointed that they only played Bat Country from City Of Evil, but when you’ve got a two hour setlist to fill and seven albums of songs to choose from, something’s gotta give!

My highlights of the night included the performance of two of my favourite songs from The Stage: Sunny Disposition and God Damn.  I also really enjoyed hearing the band perform Planets followed by Acid Rain from Hail To The King: the two tracks naturally go together, and it was a great opportunity to get the flashlights out and belt along to the epic choruses.  And of course, the encore included the incredible A Little Piece Of Heaven, which singer M Shadows dedicated to The Rev’s “fucked up lyrics”, which was a wonderful nostalgic touch.

However, I think I can guess the highlight of the night from Daniel, the man M Shadows pulled up on stage to sing Johnny Christ’s backing vocals for Nightmare in his place.  He looked like he was having the time of his life singing along, and I think everyone else in the arena wished they were on stage in his place.

Overall, the band’s performance was polished and well executed, the same as it was when I saw them live in 2013.  It’s plain to see how well M Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ play together, and they’ve been a band for long enough to work together like a well oiled machine.  New Drummer Brooks Wackerman fits into the band really well, and I really enjoyed his performance of both new and old Avenged Sevenfold tracks.

If you’re planning to see Avenged Sevenfold during the rest of their The Stage tour, you’re in for a real treat. Have you already seen them live this year?  What did you think of the show? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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Review: Battles

In Flames are a Swedish group who were formed back in 1990.  Their sound started off as metal, but the group was one of a few who pioneered and developed melodic death metal as a genre in its own right.  Over the years the band have released twelve full length studio albums, the first five of which came under the banner of melodic death metal.  However their sixth record, Reroute To Remain released in 2002, marks the band’s shift towards more alternative metal.  Its clear listening to the band’s latest album, Battles, that the band has stuck to that more alternative sound, and gained more mainstream success in the process.  You can hear the first single from their latest record, titled The End, below:

Battles opens with Drained, a great track with awesome riffs throughout and a really catchy chorus.  I had no idea what to expect listening to this record, as I’ve never followed In Flames as a band, so this was a great initiation for a newcomer to the band’s sound.  This is followed by above single The End, which features a cracking guitar solo and female choir-style backing vocals which give the track a real atmosphere.

Lyrically the tracks switch between more introspective lyrics surrounding the songwriter’s personal life and his place in the universe.  In the same vein, I like how some tracks are very melodic with great clean vocals and electronic elements, and others, like Through My Eyes, have chugging riffs and harsh vocals which hark back to In Flames’ melodic death metal past.  Each track has a catchy chorus which helps to tie the album together.

For me, the highlight of the record is the epic seven-minute long Wallflower, a complex track with prog metal influences and lyrics discussing the challenges which come with growing older and reflecting on past mistakes.  This song is absolutely massive and it honestly ended too soon for me.

Battles is a 14 track record, which is a pretty hefty offering that demonstrates that the band still has a lot to offer, even after multiple line-up changes and a massive change of sound.  After listening to some of In Flames’ older music, I can understand why their fanbase is so conflicted: their sound is very different now to how it was back in the ’90s and early 2000s.

Overall, considering I went into reviewing this album completely blind, I’ve really enjoyed listening to Battles.  I’m much less into more classic metal than I used to be in my younger teenage years, so that explains why I liked this record more than I liked what I heard of In Flames’ older music.  I’ve always been a sucker for a monster chorus with catchy repetitive lyrics, and this album has those in droves.  There are also plenty of electronic elements, interesting backing vocals, creative drum fills and guitar solos to keep me interested and listening intently.

So if you’re into In Flames’ older, pre-2002 music, this album probably won’t be for you.  However if you liked the band’s newer releases, Battles is the logical follow-up to their 2014 record Siren Charms.  Now that I’ve been introduced to In Flames, I’ll be following them much more closely in future.

Highlights: Drained, The Truth, Here Until Forever, Wallflower, Greatest Greed