Avenged Sevenfold

support Five Finger Death Punch + Avatar
author PP date 11/11/13 venue Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

Well, these bands certainly know how to milk their fan base for all it's worth. The steep ticket price at 375 DKK you can understand because it is a package lineup and this is Falconer Salen, after all, one of the most expensive venues to hold a show in Copenhagen, but charging 300 DKK a piece for a goddamn Fruit Of The Loom t-shirt that costs perhaps 20-30 DKK to produce in bulk quantities? Let's not even talk about the outright disgusting 600 DKK that a hoodie was going for at the merch table...but I guess we shouldn't be surprised: Avenged Sevenfold has consciously morphed itself from a critically acclaimed metalcore band with ambitious song structures into a mainstream business where their music has been dumbed down from its technical origins into a mainstream, easily accessible sound for the masses on their last two albums (though you could argue that the process already started on "City Of Evil", but that's another story altogether). All of this is of course reflected in their stage show tonight, but before we get ahead of ourselves, let us discuss the opening bands on the bill.

Avatar

Avatar

As I walk into the spacious Falconer Salen concert hall, Swedish experimental melodic death metallers Avatar are already well versed in crowd control having the sizable crowd chant "Hey...Hey....Hey" mid song back at the singer. It is highly unusual for a second support band to catch this much attention from the get go, but upon closer inspection it is the freaky outlook of the band that is the difference maker tonight (as well as their music, but more on that in a moment). Dressed in a top hat, horror-style make up, and holding onto a pompous walking stick as if he was the majesty of horror himself, vocalist Johannes Eckerström is a showman at heart, drinking from a gasoline canister, and acting out some of the songs vividly as they are played out. While the rest of the band aren't as all-out in their makeup as Eckerström, their long-haired stage presence is also remarkable, with everyone engaging in synchronous circular headbanging during the down-tuned, heavy riffs. They complement Eckerström's antics well, as his makeup recalls Marilyn Manson in its shock value with few references to the SAW doll as we remember it from the first movie.

Avatar

Musically, we're technically in melodic death metal territory, but the sound has been simplified towards arena metal with the occasional electronic backdrop symphonies for good measure. It's simple, but still heavy enough to leave both 5FDP and A7X sounding like pop bands in comparison as Eckerström growls his way through the set, regressing into melancholic clean vocals on a few occasions. The band originates from Gothenburg, of course, which has always been the breeding ground for awesome arena metal, and so when the band couples their eclectic performance together with a brilliant light show and fantastic showmanship, you can't get away from arguing that Avatar was potentially the most interesting show out of all three today, despite starting first. They handle themselves very well on a huge stage like this: "You love Avatar...Avatar loves you. Let's play something really fast...baaaang yoooouur heeeaaaads" screams Eckerström, as the band swerve away from their arena metal into a death metal track with the purest of serpentine riffs and blast beats to boot. It requires balls to play a song this heavy and niche oriented in front of the thousands of people present tonight, who are essentially mainstream fans, but it's a show of force and confidence, which the band has tons of thanks to people clapping and chanting along with them throughout their set.

8

Fred Durst anyone? - Five Finger Death Punch

Five Finger Death Punch

In comparison to the elaborate stage presence by Avatar just before, the testosterone fueled macho metal of Five Finger Death Punch sounds even more redneck here than it usually does on record. Lead by a Fred Durst lookalike wearing a biker gang style sleeveless vest, their intellectualism or lack thereof shows already before the first song when he yells out "Are you guys ready? Then let's burn this motherfucker down!" before commencing with "Under And Over It", which admittedly gets a worryingly big sing along going straight away. The bass is way too heavy in the mix, leaving the guitar difficult to distinguish from the soundscape, put that is probably the point anyway as the whole purpose of this showcase is to pretend like the band's sound is the most powerful one on earth, death metal bands be damned. They engage in lots of crowd control, frequently asking how people are doing up in the balcony and elsewhere in the crowd, not to mention the frankly ridiculous amount of fists and horns he keeps throwing at the audience to entice them to do the same. "I was told yesterday in a magazine article that we have the craziest fans, my answer was you're not crazy, you're just Bad Company", he says in a manner that feels almost condescending, given that his banter is fully transparent, and later on when he says "oh shit, power outage, I'm not even kidding", before asking people to light up the room with their mobile phones for last song "The Bleeding"... well, everyone knows you're full of shit since your amps work just fine in the meantime.

Five Finger Death Punch

Yes, the band play a few catchy songs like "Never Enough", "Coming Down" and "Far From Home", the latter of which sees him start out in a capella mode and letting the crowd sing half of the parts with him. Yes, the crowd is into it evident in the trampoline-style up-and-down pouncing on the Falconer Salen floor. And yes, the band has a decent amount of energy as Ivan Moody paces the stage left and right to sing to different parts of the audience, but honestly? This set is juvenile and geared for teenage audiences rebelling against the world. It's too see-through and dumbed down for a serious music fan to enjoy on face value without tremendous amounts of alcohol in their system. These guys can be good in small venues, but the whole testosterone vibe on massive stage just rubs me off the wrong way tonight.

Setlist:

  • 1. Under and Over It
  • 2. Burn It Down
  • 3. Hard to See
  • 4. Lift Me Up
  • 5. Bad Company
  • 6. Burn Motherfucker
  • 7. Coming Down
  • 8. Never Enough
  • 9. Far from Home
  • 10. The Bleeding

A7X in their usual formation

Avenged Sevenfold

If the obvious flaw in Five Finger Death Punch's set just before was it's apparently simplicity and macho attitude that makes them difficult to appreciate aside for superficial guilty pleasure reasons, Avenged Sevenfold deal with an entirely different problem tonight which is becoming more and more apparent as years pass by. Ask yourself if you were at this show: were there not moments when you thought you're watching a glorified boy band live, with the exception of real instruments and technical guitar playing ability? The more poppy Avenged Sevenfold go, the more this is becoming a problem for them, unless their whole point is to conquer the mainstream airwaves which seems apparent based on the setlist tonight. They're of course already seasoned veterans when it comes to playing arena-sized shows, so the oi! oi! oi! crowd control comes naturally to them, as does the continuous solo battling between their two guitarists against each other; there are lengthy passages of the show that I remember solely as their two guitarist either leaning against each other, or dueling against each other as a white spotlight is burning towards them. This of course all amidst singer M. Shadows utilizing the platforms to his advantage to stand well above the crowd.

A7X

There's an enormous dead bat set up behind the band, which the band comments on by asking how on earth their crew managed to fit it in through the doors of the venue tonight. This type of imagery, alongside the consistently admirable fretwork, is capable of diverting attention away from the boy band vibe, as is the heartfelt and genuine longing for their late drummer The Rev, whose voice can still heard as playback on many of the songs. But more importantly, "Fiction" is dedicated to him with M. Shadows performing the song almost as a duet on stage, with a spotlight shining on an empty spot in the stage next to him, with the rest of the band clouded in darkness in the meantime. It's a chilling way to pay your respects to a passed away comrade, and a definite thumbs up from this critic, even if the song itself is a fairly boring ballad.

Some of the big songs are truly electrifying tonight. "Nightmare", for instance, has the crowd humming along to the guitar melody before the song even gets going properly, and "Doing Time" sees a couple of circle pits form on request from M. Shadows. "Afterlife" is sung along to loud and clear, but it is the sublime guitar solo in "Bat Country" that steals the spotlight before the encore - everyone in the crowd is waving their hands left and right during. Oh, and right before "Requiem" earlier, we're treated to a guitar solo display of what can be done with effects pedals, but what starts out as a curious experiment quickly begins feeling like "this is taking forever, please get on with it and play some songs" especially when it's the drummers turn to do the same right after.

A7X

A short while after the band returns for a couple of oldies from "Waking The Fallen", namely "Chapter Four" and "Unholy Confessions", both which as tracks leave the majority of material leaving completely in their shadow in terms of song quality. They might not be mainstream crowd pleasers like "Critical Acclaim", "Nightmare" or "Afterlife", but fuck me they are brilliant tracks that draw a passionate response from the old guard present tonight. Overall though, Avenged Sevenfold deliver a solid arena show with big crowd response throughout, but one that is also missing the passion and the dynamic that really makes for a great show. Their showmanship on stage simply needs to include more than dual solos and M. Shadows on a platform before it'll be more interesting than this if they are to focus their setlist around their last couple of albums. For inspiration on how to engage a crowd with an inspired stage show, see Avatar's set from earlier.

Setlist:

  • 1. Shepherd of Fire
  • 2. Critical Acclaim
  • 3. Welcome to the Family
  • 4. Hail to the King
  • 5. Doing Time
  • 6. Buried Alive
  • 7. Fiction
  • 8. Nightmare
  • 9. This Means War
  • 10. Afterlife
  • 11. Requiem
  • 12. Bat Country
  • --Encore--
  • 13. Chapter Four
  • 14. Unholy Confessions

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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