A7x Critically Acclaimed – 4/5/12
A week ago, time seemed to have slowed down. On the 4th of May, as we were waiting at the barricades with the rest of the crowd, a couple of hours before the doors of the Flash Forum, Abu Dhabi opened; it seemed to have stopped completely. But we do know this; somewhere between the cheering and chants of “Sevenfold” & “Fo’REV’er”, it seemed to have re-started with a vengeance as one of the greatest metal bands’ concert began.
Avenged Sevenfold was formed in 1999, and it consists of 5 members. M. Shadows on vocals, Synyster Gates with the lead guitar (a beautiful one, that too), Zacky Vengeance on rhythm and Johnny Christ, who slaps the bass. The Rev, their original drummer, who is one of the most talented people the world has seen, passed away in 2009. Being a very tight knit band, this was extremely shaking to the members, who considered breaking up the band as an option. However, they chose to carry on doing what they did best and within a few months of working with Mike Portnoy (former Dream Theatre drummer) created the Album of the Year; Nightmare. And we haven’t slept soundly since.
So coming back to the Forum, all of us had made it inside alive, and were queuing at the merchandise stall where shirts were available. But the sound of some insane guitar riffs and beats reminded us of why we were really there. Anuryzm, a band originating from Lebanon, were given the honor of opening the show – to which they did complete justice. Their solos and energy drove the crowd wild, and set the mood for what was to come.
There was a sense of impatience once Anuryzm took their bow. The level of anticipation was growing exponentially and soon chants grew to uproar. And just when we thought the meaning of deafening had been defined, the intro to Nightmare showed us otherwise. Within moments, the Synyster outline of the legendary Gates was visible and a Shadowy voice declared that it had begun.
Nightmare turned to Critical Acclaim to an extremely star struck crowd; it was unbelievable. Then M Shadows took a pause and appreciated the posters and artwork. He even took one of the posters that said Welcome to the Arabic family while saying “It’s not you welcoming us to your family, it’s us welcoming you to the Sevenfold family!” And with that, Arin llejay (their touring drummer) kicked off Welcome to the Family. After that, the Shadows claimed sanity by repeating “I’m not Insane” as Almost Easy proved how difficult it was to control a crowd. Buried Alive followed suit, and then the background changed from the album cover of Nightmare to something that touched us all; a huddle with The Rev, taken during the early days of the band. Shadows told us all how much they missed him, how he was watching from above and wasn’t So Far Away if we called to him loudly enough. We sincerely hope he heard us.
The band’s chemistry was unmistakable. We’d seen it so many times on video, but the real thing was just remarkable. Synyster Gates’ trademark expressionless face while pulling off some of the most exotic solos, Zacky Vengeance’s smiles and cheers mid-song, M Shadows asking us to sing along while Johnny Christ was in his own world told us just a little bit about how comfortable they were, in their natural habitats. Arin seemed to have the same characteristics as The Rev, with the need to spin one drumstick in the air from time to time. Afterlife, one of their most famous creations came next, and Synyster showed us how to have a conversation with Shadows while playing the solo. Beast and the Harlot opened the crowd up into numerous pits and, for the sake of confidentiality; I’ll leave it at that. “The next song is a love song” said M Shadows, as he narrated the story of two lovers in A little piece of Heaven. He then took a headcount of those coming from the states, especially those from Las Vegas, what A7x like to call Bat Country.
Suddenly, the lights went out and fog filled the stage. All of them seemed to have disappeared, and the panic began almost instantly. There was no way we were letting them leave that easy, while we had breath in our lungs. The roar for “We want more” and “Encore” seemed to have reached their ears as the intro to Fiction cured the shock. Second Heartbeat followed soon after, and energy levels seemed to have reached maximum, with a lot of activity from the crowd.
Security guards didn’t seem to want to join the fun as they watched from a … safe distance. The last song they performed was Unholy Confessions, and M Shadows personally asked to see the biggest pit possible, saying “The security knows that you’re all friends and won’t hurt each other, right?” so how could we refuse?
Some insane headbanging, flying guards and a couple of minutes later, they bid us goodbye, while flinging guitar picks and drumstick into the crowd. Some of us were lucky enough to get a few, while others, take one of our own TR members for instance, had to fight for it. But no worries, he emerged victorious with Johnny Christ’s guitar pick firmly in hand.
All in all, it was one of the most memorable evenings of our lives and we thank Think Flash for organizing the event. Hope to see you at the next concert, but till then – ROCK ON! m/