Review & Photography by Jeff Kunze
It has been a while since we have seen Avenged Sevenfold. The band finally dropped the follow-up to 2016’s ‘The Stage’ with the album ‘Life Is But a Dream…’ It’s a record that has been debated and dissected among fans since its release and now the band has embarked on a North American tour to support it.
The Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota got its turn to host the tour and fans filled the venue with great anticipation. Along with the headliner, Alexisonfire and Kim Dracula were also on the bill.
I had never heard of Kim Dracula before the band took the stage. The guitarist, bassist and drummer wore purple masks while Kim looked like something from the My Chemical Romance “Black Parade” video with his attire and deep purple hair. Trying to pigeon hole what they were musically is difficult, throw in just about everything from metal, rap, hardcore, nu-metal and alternative and that’s a great beginning to describe the sound.
It was chaotic and strange set with Kim wielding a chainsaw and also playing chess against himself on a board set up next to the drums. Kim Dracula released their debut album ‘A Gradual Decline in Morale” this year and some of the songs they hit on were “Superhero,” “Killdozer,” and “Make Me Famous.” They also did a Lady Gaga cover of “Paparazzi.” It was quick and relentless set that brought a lot of energy to the crowd.
The next band on was Alexisonfire and they were absolute fire. Someway, somehow, I have never listened to this band or encountered them live despite the band forming back in 2001. From the opening number called ‘Sweet Dreams of Otherness” I was hooked.
The energy they were giving off was infectious and it swept through the crowd quickly. I was so impressed by the band having three distinct voices with George Petit providing the aggressive vocals and Dallas Green supplying the clean voice along with playing rhythm guitar.
Wade MacNeil also supplied sublime vocals with a rasp while handling lead guitar duties. The three of them together really gave the band a unique flavor and the ability to pull off so many different approaches to songs.
The bass player, Chris Steele, was the most entertaining aspect of the band with his movements and facial expressions help ignite the excitement of the unit while drummer Jordan Hastings held the beat. Some of the songs they played included “Young Cardinals,” “Boiled Frogs” and “Sans Soleil” but the caveat of the set was the cover of “When Doves Cry” by hometown legend Prince. I will be checking out the bands catalog as they dropped their fifth studio album ‘Otherness’ last year which was the first full length album in thirteen years.
The lights dropped and Avenged Sevenfold took to the stage. A lone chair sat in the middle of stage and vocalist M. Shadows, wearing a black ski-mask, sat down in it. The show kicked-off with “Game Over” and then into “Mattel.” The new album ‘Life Is But a Dream…’ is a stylistic change that tied their traditional metal DNA to a progressive soundscape of musical elements that have no boundaries.
It is clear proof of the bands musical tastes and ideas had moved forward and the new album is a representation of where the band stands today. Not only has the sound shifted but so has the live show. The stage was stripped down with video panels on three sides of it. Days of the big pyro and elaborate stage set-ups seem to be gone along with massive lighting.
The band spent much of the time in the dark under minimal lighting which further proved that the concert was truly about the songs. That being said, each song did have some elaborate images on the video panels which made for a cool experience as they played each song. It was bold statement to open with two new tracks but even a bigger one was made by closing with “G,” “(O)rdinary,” and “(D)eath” and walking off stage without a big goodbye or encore.
The set ran slightly under two hours and despite the focus being on the new album, there was plenty of time to throw in some of the classic songs that are staples of the bands catalog. Song’s like “Buried Alive,” “Nightmare,” “Bat Country,” “Afterlife” and my highlight “Unholy Confessions” still sounded thunderous after all these years. Guitarist Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance played off each other perfectly, especially during the harmonized guitar solos. The rhythm section was handled by Johnny Christ and drummer Brooks Wackerman.
Although he isn’t flashy behind the kit, I was really floored by the skill of Wackerman. The drums sounded amazing in the mix of the sound and it really allowed me to fully hear just how good he is and how much it drives the bands sound. M. Shadows sounded as good as I’ve ever heard him sing. He controlled the stage and after all the issues with his voice, it appeared that all is good now.
I really enjoyed the Avenged Sevenfold set. Sometimes you get caught up with all the keyboard warriors who hate on the album and then blast the tour for the direction they have taken with the live show so I wasn’t sure what I was walking into. For me, and I can only speak for me, this showed me why Avenged Sevenfold is still relevant and still headlining arenas two-decades after forming.
That crowd that packed the Target Center sang every word, of every song no matter if it was old or new which was proof they are still a beloved band and that people are ready to take a musical journey with no matter what direction they choose to go. That’s all I need to see.