After being trapped in an excruciating legal battle with Warner Bros Records, Avenged Sevenfold surprised fans in 2016 with the release of their self-funded seventh album The Stage, via Capitol Records. With their new album in hand, the Californian metal heavyweights performed at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton proving that not even a major setback can slow them down.
A7X kicked off their show with a ‘bang!’ as they opened up the night with ‘The Stage’, revealing their new production for the tour. The past couple of times I’ve had the chance to catch A7X, their stage set up contained the likes of a giant deathbat and a lot of pyro – but this time around it was different as it featured 8 massive screens playing animations behind them. They didn’t waste any time as they pulled out some of their heavy hitters such as ‘Hail To The King’ and ‘Nightmare’. As someone who has been listening to the band since 2005, it was nice to see that the set list highlighted every aspect of the band’s career as they played things like ‘Beast and the Harlot’ and ‘Burn It Down’.
I won’t lie; I was a bit disappointed to see the new stage set up for this album cycle given how theatrical it used to be. But what A7X lacked in their theatrics, they most definitely made up for in their stage presence. M.Shadows is just fierce live as he is on the albums between his clean, melodic vocal lines to his intense metalcore growls, he managed to hit every nail on the head showing Hamilton how versatile his voice is. Synyster Gates’ skills are undeniable as he constantly delivered finger-twisting licks while shredding through the songs. Paired up with the melodies of rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance and heavy bass lines of Johnny Christ, the band had Hamilton under their spell. Watching Brooks Wackerman perform with the band, you would have never of guessed he was a new member. Between his fast double bass kicks, blast beats and his on stage chemistry with the band, it felt as if he has always been apart of A7X – which is something I felt was lacking since The Rev passed away in 2009.
During the performance of ‘So Far Away’, Shadows spoke about living in the moment and appreciating those around you, as you never know when your time on this planet will be up. As he spoke, images of the The Rev appeared on the screens behind them. I’ve always admired how they always make sure to still include him in everything A7X continues to do.
As the set was coming to an end, Shadows was seen joking around with the crowd asking them what they wanted to hear for the encore. He even stopped what he was doing to sign something for one of the fans in the front row. When someone shouted ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’, Shadows teased them about peeking at their set list as the intro began to play. The band left Hamilton in awe as they closed out the night with ‘Unholy Confessions’, proving that no matter what tries to get in their way, A7X is a powerhouse that cannot be messed with.