After a day featuring some incredible sets from the likes of Killswitch Engage, Of Mice & Men, Ghost and two of the Big 4 in Anthrax and Slayer, the first annual Revolution Rock Festival reaches its climax with the arrival of Avenged Sevenfold, who are rolling through the East Coast for the first time in well over two years. Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that they play to the largest and loudest crowd of the night.
Kicking off their set with Nightmare to a crowd almost as loud as the band themselves, the OC megaweights proceed to smash through Afterlife, Shepherd Of Fire and Hail To The King, showing little ring rust after their time off the road. Though the production is, by their recent standards, scaled down a tad for the festival, keeping it simple with an LCD screen behind them projecting the band live, Metallica-style, and two pyro bars on either side of the stage, their performance is not scaled down in the slightest.
Axemen Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance trade leads and solos to set off massed cheers, screams and crowdsurfers, while new-ish drummer Brooks Wackerman sounds like he’s been there all along. The ballady Buried Alive causes the biggest emotional outpour of the whole festival, with a dedication to the victims of the NYC bomb blast earlier today furthering the impact of the moment. Gunslinger then brings the heavy back, before old-school cuts To End The Rapture and Second Heartbeat please the diehards, sparking circlepits on both sides of the crowd-splitting barricade. After an epic Acid Rain shows off the incredible guitar playing of Syn and Zacky, an encore sees the song that made Avenged a household name, Bat Country, followed by an extra-heavy rendition of Unholy Confessions.
“We will return in 2017! I promise!” beams M Shadows as the band take their final bow, and while no new songs and a shorter set than normal may seem like a tease, this is a show that serves not only as a welcome visit from a band that’s been dearly missed by their fans, but an emphatic statement that Avenged Sevenfold are very much still a band on form. We’re all ready for whatever they have next.