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Avenged Sevenfold close out Download 2024 with a triumphant headline set 

The band make their third appearance as Download headliners, and it’s their weirdest one yet


So, this is it.

A weekend of mud, music, and madness is coming to an end, and with camp chairs sinking into the ground and various abandoned shoes swallowed up by the festival’s layer of brown sludge, it’s been an eventful one.

With the area in front of the main stage packed out for one last dose of riffs and singalongs, Avenged Sevenfold are a band who need little introductions in this setting. Making their third appearance as Download headliners, they walk onstage nonchalantly, vocalist M. Shadows taking a seat as the Spanish guitar intro of ‘Game Over’ plays.

As a spotlight surveys the stage, the frontman’s face is covered by a ski mark as he delivers the track’s quickfire vocals, standing up for the racing follow-up of ‘Mattel’. Opening with two cuts from experimental 2023 album Life Is But A Dream…, the vocalist later remarks that this may be the only stop they’ll be making in the UK during this touring cycle, taking the opportunity to debut a generous selection of the record’s expansive cuts on these shores.

Seasoned veterans of Download, Avenged Sevenfold feel delightfully at home. Fire blazing around them as they expertly churn through tracks from their two-decade-plus discography, 2007 single ‘Afterlife’ and throwback City Of Evil cut ‘Bat Country’ get some of the night’s biggest reactions. The frontman remarks that it’s Father’s Day in the UK, so the anthemic ‘Hail To The King’ is dedicated to the dads in the audience, with the mulleted vocalist nodding that, “There is nothing cooler in this world than being a good dad and being there for your kids”. Technical issues strike after the guitar solo of ‘Nightmare’, but the fields of Download carry them, banding together for a singalong of the final chorus. 

A set packed tightly with such defiant singalongs; fists spend an impressive portion of the near two-hour set firmly pointed towards the sky. With old cuts, new cuts, and deep cuts, even during more downbeat moments such as Nightmare tracks ‘Buried Alive’ and ‘Fiction’ (the latter dedicated to the band’s late drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan), the crowd’s focus is firmly fixed on the Californian riff-makers.

With such a long history at Donington Park, it’s hard to think of anyone more fitting to close out this year’s festivities. Dealing out head bangers and head scratchers in equal measure, this evening is a tribute to a band who refuse to stop growing. Evolving on each new release and challenging themselves to push the boundaries of metal, there’s a reason why Avenged Sevenfold still hold such a firm place in the hearts of heavy music fans. As tens of thousands of festival goers prepare to make the final journey back to their tents after another weekend of metal magic, there’s no other band they’d rather have spent their last night with.


Tickets for next year’s Download Festival are on sale now here.