Avenged Sevenfold are suffering something of an identity crisis.
To thousands of metal fans, Avenged are, well, not very metal. But ask any of the guys in the band, and they'll tell you Avenged Sevenfold are a bona fide heavy metal outfit with old school punk influences. This summer, Avenged will have a chance to prove their naysayers wrong, as the band has been booked on the main stage for the 11th annual Ozzfest.
"It's our chance to prove to the world that if there's a torch to be carried, we can help participate," guitarist Zacky Vengeance said. "We're not nervous at all about it. We've been on tour long enough to know that with our fans alone, they'll be excited to come out and support us. These shows are going to kick ass." Vengeance added that talk of the band being faux metal "makes its way onto online messageboards, and that's where it originates and disappears, too. When we get onstage, people in the crowd will have a good time. There's always going to be haters, but those people are few. We're not too worried about it."
Vengeance said that Avenged plan to silence the skeptics and prove themselves worthy of a headbangin', horn-throwin' salute.
"There's people that have never heard our album," he said. "The most they've seen is either our video on 'TRL' or our picture on the cover of magazines. Every show we play is going to be a battle. Until you see us live and experience it firsthand, I don't expect you'd be a believer. After they see us, I think it won't leave any doubt in their minds that we're anything other than a metal force to be reckoned with. We go out there every night, and we fight the battle. We don't care about people who don't think we're true metal. We hope to change their minds. I have total faith.
"We can't wait to get out in front of a strictly metal audience, and prove to the world what we're about and what we can do," Vengeance continued. "We want to show the world that we think we can hang with all the great bands that we love."
This summer's Ozzfest kicks off June 19 in Seattle and is set to conclude August 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Avenged will be joining Hatebreed, Lacuna Coil, Disturbed and System of a Down in this year's mainstage lineup (see "System Of A Down, Disturbed To Headline Ozzfest"), along with the newly announced addition of British prog-metal revivalists DragonForce.
For the first time in 10 years, the festival's namesake, Ozzy Osbourne, will not be closing out all of the Ozzfest's dates; he's committed to playing 10 shows, with one as the headliner on the tour's second stage (see "Ozzy Playing Ozzfest's Second Stage For The First Time"). Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society, Atreyu, Bleeding Through, Norma Jean, Unearth, Strapping Young Lad, and Full Blown Chaos are among the bands slated for the second-stage bill.
Avenged Sevenfold's mainstage slot, although unannounced before now, has been one of the worst kept secrets in Ozzfest history. But don't blame the band for letting it slip. In recent interviews, Avenged have demurred when asked about Ozzfest, saying simply that, while an offer was on the table, they hadn't reached a decision regarding their summer touring schedule (see " 'TRL' Faves Avenged Sevenfold Want Out Of 'Teeny Magazines' ").
"We've been keeping the secret this whole time, which has been pretty much a difficult task because we are excited and we wanted to tell people," he said. "It almost slipped out a few times, but we've known for three months now. This is going to be the first time that we've ever done something other than the Warped Tour in the States."
The Avenged dudes have spent the last three years traveling the nation as part of the Warped Tour's annual caravan. And Warped has been good to the 'Fold. But it's time, Vengeance said, to tackle a new fest.
"In the last couple of years, we felt we wanted to continue our fanbase through Warped Tour, and conquer that, as last year we got a chance to headline," he explained, adding that the band is toying with the idea of including its cover of Pantera's "Walk" in its Ozzfest setlist. "For us to make an impact at Ozzfest, it had to be the right time — and this year definitely seems like the right time. Being on the main stage, especially, that's where we wanted the Ozzfest crowd to see us for the first time, because that's when we're at the top of our game. We're going to go up there and put on the best show possible. We won't hold anything back. The only thing we can do is go there and play our asses off and put on an Avenged show the best we know how. We're going to go out there and have as much as we can."
Late Thursday evening, the official Ozzfest Web site's messageboards were inundated with reaction to Avenged's mainstage revelation. The torrent of venom was similar to the vicious response that greeted last year's announcement that Wicked Wisdom, the band fronted by actress Jada Pinkett Smith, would be performing on the tour's second stage (see "Ozzfest Gets Jiggy? Jada Pinkett Smith's Band Added To Lineup"). "I hope they get booed off the stage — I surely will scream myself hoarse during their set. ... I will throw sh-- at them" read one post contained in a thread titled "F--- Avenged Sevenfold." "I hope they have to be taken off for the safety of their own ... asses," said another. "I'm skipping out on Ozzfest this year," read a third. "What do [they have] planned for 2007? Poison? Warrant? F---ing Damn Yankees?"
Check out "Avenged Sevenfold: Appetite For Destruction" to find out which metal gods are in the band's corner.