hmv.com reviews... Avenged Sevenfold @ Download Festival 2014
Download Festival, the annual pilgrimage of thousands of rock and metal fans to a field just off the M1 to watch over 100 bands is here. hmv.com will be bringing you reviews and interviews from the festival across the weekend. Our opening day finishes with headliners Avenged Sevenfold, so how did they do on their debut as bill toppers?
Avenged Sevenfold, metalcore also rans turned stadium filling hard rockers. It's taken them six albums to get to the top, but on Hail To The King (which you can preview by clicking on the icon on the right-hand side of the page), they've now turned into bona fide festival headliners.
Download Festival, on the Main Stage, right at the top of the bill.
Was it full? And how were the crowd?
The crowd looked a bit thin to start with, but filled out as the set went on. As you looked back in the latter stages of the show, the crowd stretched back as far as the eye could see, and everyone was into it, chanting along, headbanging on cue, admiring when admiring was what was required, everything was just right.
So what was the set like? What did they play?
The set lasted almost two hours, but absolutely flew by. It spanned the whole of the band's career, cherry picking from all their most anthemic and most loved moments. Kicking off with new album opener 'Shepherd Of Fire', the band fired out 'Critical Acclaim' and 'Hail To The King' soon after. As the set went on they threw out a few deeper cuts from their back catalogue like 'The Beast And The Harlot', 'Seize The Day' and early track 'Second Heartbeat'. Things ended with two encores, the second of which started with the weird, Nightmare Before Christmas esque 'A Little Piece Of Heaven' and ended with a blistering run through breakthrough single 'Unholy Confessions'. It was taut and angry when it needed to be, sad and poetic when it needed to be, powerful and anthemic when it needed to be, and, it even had guitarist Synester Gates playing the UK national anthem. You don't get that every day...
The band's timing was also oddly perfect too. They played sky scraper sized ballad 'So Far Away' just as the sun was going down and launched right into 'Nightmare' just as a brief shower of rain started. They might have looked up the sun's descent timing on the internet, the rain's short-lived arrival was just pure fate.
If there were doubts about their ability to headline a major festival before, there aren't now.
Any good between song banter?
There was a little bit, but the band were in a more reflective mood than anything else. Singer Matt Shadows told the crowd a number of times how honoured they were to be there and had everyone singing along with him throughout. He also took the time to honour the band's former drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, who died in 2009, dedicating 'So Far Away' to 'Our brother upstairs', which was very apt.
Did they put on much of a show?
They brought so much! The set kicked off with more fire than you'd thought it was possible to pack onto one stage and only got more spectacular from there on out. The stage was decked out like an arena sized graveyard with a huge mechanical skeleton. As the set wore on the pyro kept coming and it ended with a massive firework display. Put on a show? Yeah, it's fair to say they did.
What was the highlight of the set?
It was a set comprised of nothing but highlights, but, the one standout moment was 'This Means War', with its chugging, deadly riff and menancing chorus, it sounded incredible.
Where can I catch them next?
They've got a quite a few festival appearances in the next few weeks and then they close out the summer with a big US tour. This may well be the last time we see them on this album cycle in the UK though.
hmv.com will be at Download Festival across the weekend of June 13th to June 15th, bringing you interviews and reviews.