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This rare video of Avenged Sevenfold at Warped 2003 is chaos and we love it

M Shadows at Vans Warped Tour 2003
(Image credit: YouTube)

Years before Avenged Sevenfold became one of the single biggest heavy metal bands of their generation, they were a bunch of contrary, lairy Orange County kids making a racket and mixing it up in a scene dominated by emo and pop punk mainstays and emerging metalcore heroes-in-waiting. 

With early albums Sounding The Seventh Trumpet and, in particular, classic 2003 breakthrough Waking The Fallen, the five-piece's scintillating blend of punk rock velocity and heavy metal histrionics was winning them fans across all corners of the 00s rock spectrum. They played festivals all over the place, from Reading and Leeds in the UK to the legendary Vans Warped Tour in the States - and it was perhaps on the latter where they truly cut their teeth in the early days.

Between 2002-2007, Avenged showed up on no fewer than five Warped tours, racking up an impressive 110 gigs in the process and solidifying themselves as one of the definitive Warped bands of their era. It's why they were attracting such impassioned crowds from the get-go, as this classic footage from way back in 2003 shows.

Taken from an official 03 Warped Tour DVD, the clip shows a youthful and eyeliner-ed Avenged smashing their way through a scrappy rendition of Waking The Fallen anthem Second Heartbeat, causing absolute bedlam in front of them as the entire song threatens to fall off the rails from the start and a rabid Warped crowd descends into a sea of moshing, crowdsurfing and windmilling.

With only The Rev's reliably tight-as-a-gnat's-pisshole drumming keeping things on course, the rest of the band stomp and swagger their way around the stage, frontman M. Shadows even jumping into the front row at one point to incite further shenanigans.

It's an awesome - if heartwarmingly messy - window into a time where Avenged Sevenfold weren't an arena-straddling, festival headlining 'event' band. They were, simply, the hottest young metal band in the world, and about to explode. And explode they did.

Merlin Alderslade
Merlin Alderslade

Merlin stepped into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.