View from the Pit: Long Live the King

Reflex Photography

Avenged Sevenfold hit the banks of Cincinnati like a sledge hammer, an army of darkness descended on our city in an armada of busses and semi-trailers. Kicking off the night was probably one of the most talked about acts to come through our neck of the woods in some time. You know you’re in for something unique when the opener gets as much word of mouth as the headliner. Of course I could only be referring to Ghost (Ghost B.C. for Pandora users). Taking the stage fully cloaked and masked the clergy of rock began a performance that can only be fully experienced in person. As far as Satanic rock goes Ghost has the look down to a “T”, led by the Papa Emeritus II the group’s mystirium grabs you quickly and is held by the powerful instrumental work of the simply known, clergy. That’s when you’re handed a much softer hand then what you’d expect from the stage theatrics. Instead of the guttural death growl that you would expect you’re hit with something closer to that operatic. A blend of fast passed instrumental work and lyrical workings that are thought through and captivating. Instead of your ears wanting to bleed they’re opened. Papa’s slow, methodical movements and well passed singing would have you believing that he is Satan’s messenger mixed with the clergy’s intensity gives that belief some credibility. Only a hand full of acts attempts this level of emersion and pull it off (In This Moment comes to mind) and Ghost does it spades.

Taking the stage with an insane level of energy the Deftones hit you hard, fast and kept you up. Longtime fans that had packed the arena blew it up when Chino jumped into the pit and straight in the crowd not long into the very first song. Literally running, skipping and jumping throughout the set, Chino kept the energy level high and fans ate it up. The intensity was impressive, non-stop, balls to the wall rock.

Then came the castle veiled in hell fire, Avenged Sevenfold took the stage and what a stage they’ve built. Stone walls, arches filled with skeleton warriors and topping it all off with fire, lots of fire, scorching the brim of my hat fire. A7X didn’t necessarily charge the castle, they owned it. The presence they bring isn’t so much run around on a sugar high, but more on the level of “We’re the baddest bunch of mother f****** in the place” type of energy. Taking ownership of the stage and crowd, M. Shadows vocal work hit its high straight off backed by the rhythm work of Vengeance, they pumped out a level music that blows you away. Adding to the mix was the impressive guitar work Synyster Gates, appearing calm and collected you’d have a hard time believing that the incredible riff was coming from him his steady form. Creating the raw and unforgiving force behind it all, Johnny Christ on bass pulled all the sound together and for those standing directly in front of the kickers liquefying our internal organs. Keeping everything together and setting the blistering pass, Arin Ilejay’s drum work was damn impressive, moving as a well-orchestrated blur watching him whale on the drums is a sight to behold, I only wished that the pit wasn’t so low.
Blending fan favorites with material from their new album “Hail to the King”, the crew gave you exactly what you came for. Intense, powerful and damn good music, Avenged Sevenfold has without a doubt become one of the best acts out there that actually produces a dynamic sound. From the high intensity “Shepard of Fire” to the complex composure of “Acid Rain”, A7X performance and sound is impressive.

That being said, I can’t exactly let this slide without comment though, M. Shadows wants to think that Rock and Roll is dying, I say let him. As long as bands like A7X, Halestorm, Ghost or Foxy Shazam create music worth listening to, I say let the old King(s) die. Here in Cincinnati Rock and Roll isn’t dying, I ‘m under the persuasion it’s sharpening a sword, preparing for a battle to take the crown from some self-imposed prince and put it on a rightful head. Whoever this new King maybe, whatever original and true sound they can create I hope that I and my camera can bear witness to it and the kingdom where originality and creativity is rewarded. I say the King is dead, long live the new King.

Check out photos from the show HERE!