by Andrew Miller

Avenged Sevenfold

Thurs May 13

Nocturnal

1800 E Burnside

Like Black Sabbath's Iron Man, who swore vengeance from the grave, this generation's Iron men pursue retribution with punishing perseverance. Avenged Sevenfold, whose name betrays its revenge-driven intentions, aims to return Iron Maiden-style hard rock to a place of prominence. But the group has used a Trojan horse to recruit its following, and not the literal variety that the real Maiden might use as a killer stage prop. These Warped Tour veterans pass as a punk act, even though its members clearly bleed metal like melting androids.

Take singer M. Shadows, who's so metal that he lives in constant fear of industrial-strength magnets. From his James Hetfield-like phrasing, which turns "time" into a two-syllable word and makes "grrr" an omnipresent prefix, to his upper-octave explorations, Shadows proves he can snarl and shriek with the best of the Headbanger's Ball bunch.

Then there are guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates, who can just forget about flying because there's no way dudes this metal could clear the detectors. While his name plays like a Saved by the Bell episode synopsis (Belding gets his come-uppance!), Zacky Vengeance lands some robust riffs. Gates' solos, as morose as they are melodic, make a compelling case for the revival of that moribund art.

Occasionally, Avenged Sevenfold loses sight of its mission. Shadows starts barking "Who the fuck are you?" as if he's auditioning for everyone's favorite nihilist clown collective, and the group follows his dubious lead by tying its tunes in knots. Then there's the 14-minute, two-part power ballad "I Won't See You Tonight," which should at least swap titles with "An Epic of Time Wasted" for warning purposes.

Avenged Sevenfold seems completely unrepentant and humorless about reviving some of the baroque instrumental exercises that punk pioneers sought to destroy. It's an all-business assassin, a ninja in Hot Topic disguise that stuns confused crowds with long-abandoned deadly techniques. Either embrace this metal messiah, or run to the hills.