REVIEW: Avenged Sevenfold, 3.15.24, Wells Fargo Arena

Twenty-five years in, Huntington Beach’s Avenged Sevenfold can afford to take some chances.

Take their latest album released in 2023, “Life Is But A Dream.” The band’s hardcore fan base loved its quirkiness and refusal to be painted into any one genre’s corner. Others? Not so much. Eclecticity buys you only so much street cred.

Fortunately, the Avenged fivesome of vocalist M. Shadows, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zachy Vengeance, bassist Johnny Christ and drummer Brooks Wackerman have a catalog deep enough to even out their occasional musical dips in the road.

Take Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The staging was top notch, with large video screens flanking the fivesome that, instead of  being used to simply make the band members larger than life, added dimension with imagery of towering flames, burning houses, and other eye-poppers. And while the band eschewed the usual black leather garb for a more straight-off-the-racks-of-Salvation-Army vibe, it didn’t detract. If anything, it gave off an anti-rock star vibe, relating to the everyman more than anything. Props to that.

Musically, naturally wanting to promote the new product, the band rolled out five songs off “Life Is But A Dream.” The reaction was mixed at best from the smallish crowd of around 3,500.

Songs like show openers “Game Over” and “Mattel,” while having their A7X moments, were but were merely lead-ins to what the fans truly wanted, that being rippers such as the guitar-filled, joyous hysterics of  “Afterlife” and the ever thumping “Hail To The King,” a nod to one of the band’s biggest influences, Metallica.

The band dusted off “Shepherd of Fire” and had a solid showing with deep cuts “Roman Sky” and “Blinded In Chains.” But again, it was the foundational songs that displayed the most heft. “Bat Country” had the crowd going, well, batty, as did the title track to their 2010 album, “Nightmare.” “Unholy Confessions” and the Uber-heaviness of “Save Me” kept the momentum going before band closed things out with the trippy,\ “Cosmic.”

Most of the crowd dug the entirety of it all, and it’s hard not to with that amount of talent on the stage.

But until this dice-rolling gets out of their system (including selecting questionable openers such as King Sullivan and Poppy), only one thing is certain when in the realm of Avenged Sevenfold: expect the unexpected.

Setlist, 3.15.24, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
1. Game Over
2. Mattel
3. Afterlife
4. Hail To The King
5. We Love You
6. Shepherd Of Fire
7. The Stage
8. Roman Sky
9. Blinded In Chains
10. Bat Country
11. Nobody
12. Nightmare
13. Unholy Confessions
14. Save Me
15. Cosmic