Avenged Sevenfold is an American rock band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1999. The band consists of vocalist M. Shadows, lead guitarist Synyster Gates, rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance, bassist Johnny Christ.
Avenged Sevenfold emerged with a metalcore sound on their debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, which included primarily screamed vocals. The band changed their style on their third album and first major label release, City of Evil, which features more melodic vocals and power ballads. The band continued to explore new sounds with their self titled release and enjoyed continued mainstream success before their drummer, James "The Rev" Sullivan, died of heart disease and combined effect of drugs and alcohol in his body in 2009. Despite his death, the band continued on with help of then former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and released and toured in support of their fifth album Nightmare in 2010 which debuted on the top spot of the Billboard 200, a first for the band.
To date, Avenged Sevenfold has released five studio albums, one live album/compilation/DVD, and fifteen singles. The band themselves have received much credit for their worldwide mainstream success and were most notably proclaimed as one of the leaders and key bands in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal and were featured as second place on Ultimate Guitar's Top Ten Bands of the Decade.
Inception (1999-2004)EditThe band was formed in 1999 in Huntington Beach, California with original members M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, The Rev and Matt Wendt. M Shadows came up with the name as a reference to the story of Cain and Abel from The Bible, which can be found in Genesis 4:24, although they are not a religious band. Upon its formation, each member of the band also took on a pseudonym which were already nicknames of theirs from high school. Before release their debut album, the band recorded two demos in 1999 and 2000. Avenged Sevenfold's debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, was recorded when the band members were just eighteen years old and in high school. It was originally released on their first label, Good Life Recordings in 2001. After lead guitarist Synyster Gates joined the band, at the end of 1999 when he was 18 at the introductory track "To End the Rapture" was re-recorded featuring a full band element. The album was subsequently re-released on Hopeless Records in 2002.
The band started to receive recognition, performing with bands such as Mushroomhead and Shadows Fall and playing on the Take Action Tour. Having settled on their fourth bassist, Johnny Christ, they released Waking the Fallen on Hopeless Records in August 2003. The album featured a more refined and mature sound production in comparison to their previous album. The band received profiles in Billboard and The Boston Globe and played in the Vans Warped Tour. In 2004, Avenged Sevenfold toured again on the Vans Warped Tour and recorded a video for their song "Unholy Confessions" which went into rotation on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball. Shortly after the release of Waking the Fallen, Avenged Sevenfold left Hopeless Records and were signed to Warner Bros Records.
City of Evil (2005-2007)Edit
Can't you help me as I'm startin' to burn
Too many doses and I'm startining to get an attraction
My confidence is leaving me on my own
No one can save me and you know I don't want the attention
-Bat Country, City of Evil (2005)
City of Evil, the band's third album and major label debut, was released on June 7, 2005 and debuted at #30 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 30,000 copies in its first week of release. It utilized a more classic metal sound than Avenged Sevenfold's previous albums, which had been grouped into the metalcore genre. The album is also notable for the absence of screamed and growled vocals; M. Shadows worked with vocal coach Ron Anderson—whose clients have included Axl Rose and Chris Cornell—for months before the album's release to achieve a sound that had "grit while still having the tone". The album received steller reviews from several magazines and websites and is credited for propelling the band into international popularity.
After playing Ozzfest in 2006, Avenged Sevenfold memorably beat out R&B Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown, Panic! At the Disco, Angels and Airwaves and James Blunt for the title of Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, thanks in part to their Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-inspired song "Bat Country.”
They returned to the Vans Warped Tour, this time headlining and then continued on their own "Cities of Evil Tour." In addition, their lead single "Bat Country" reached #2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Charts, #6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Charts and the accompanying video made it to #1 on MTV's Total Request Live. Propelled by this success, the album sold well and became Avenged Sevenfold's first gold record. It was later certified platinum in August 2009.
Self-titled album (2007-2009)EditI don't belong here, we gotta move on dear
Escape from this afterlife
'Cause this time I'm right to move on and on
Far away from here
Got nothing against you and surely I'll miss you
This place full of peace and light, and I'd hope you might
Take me back inside, when the time right
-Afterlife, Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold's mainstream success got them an invitation to 2006's Ozzfest tour on the main stage, alongside other well known hard rock and heavy metal acts DragonForce, Lacuna Coil, Hatebreed, DIsturbed and System of a Down. That same year they also completed a worldwide tour, including the US, The United Kingdom (as well as mainland Europe), Japan, Australia and New Zealand. After being on tour for sixteen months in promotion of City of Evil, the band announced that they were cancelling their Fall 2006 tour in favor of recording new music. M. Shadows stated that their fourth studio album—which the band self-titled and self-produced—would not be a "City of Evil Part 2" or "Waking the Fallen Part 2," but would incorporate a new, grittier sound. To tide the fans over in between albums, the band released their first DVD titled All Excess on July 17, 2007. All Excess, which debuted as the #1 DVD in the USA, included live performances and backstage footage that spanned the band's eight year career. Two tribute albums, Strung Out on Avenged Sevenfold: Bat Wings and Broken Strings and Strung Out on Avenged Sevenfold: The String Tribute were also released in October 2007.
Avenged Sevenfold headlined the 2008 Taste of Chaos tour with Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, Blessthefall and Idiot Pilot. They used the footage from their last show in Long Beach for Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough, a two-disc B-sides CD and live DVD which was released on September 16, 2008. They also recorded numerous covers, including Pantera's "Walk", Iron Maiden's "Flash of the Blade" and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". They will also be releasing a Guitar Tutorial DVD, which include the five tracks, Afterlife, Almost Easy, Bat Country, Beast and the Harlot and Trashed And Scattered, breaking down the guitar solos and riffs in each song. During a sold-out festival performance in Leeds and Reading, the band were forced to shorten their Leeds performance and cancel their Reading performance due to a vocal strain sustained by M. Shadows. A few days later, the band was forced to announce the cancellation of the remaining September shows, with the tour set to resume again on October 15.
You should have known
The price of evil
And it hurts to know
That you belong here, yeah
No one to call
Everybody to fear
Your tragic fate is looking so clear, yeah
Ooh, it's your fuckin' nightmare
-Nightmare, Nightmare (2010)
In January 2009, M. Shadows confirmed that the band was writing the follow-up to their self-titled fourth album within the upcoming months. They also announced that they will be playing at Rock on the Range, from May 16–17, 2009. On April 16, they performed a version of Guns N' Roses' "It's So Easy" onstage with Slash, at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. M. Shadows was featured on Slash's debut solo album Slash in the song "Nothing to Say".
They announced that they plan to start writing in June 2009 and recording in October 2009. M. Shadows also said in an interview with Loveline that the next record would be a more traditional heavy metal, more rock-oriented record, since the self-titled record was very experimental. He also said it would feature more progressive, longer songs and would be the "biggest Avenged Sevenfold record ever." Additionally, he said they were possibly thinking about a concept record. On July 15, 2009, their website and MySpace profile were updated with a statement from M. Shadows implying that work on the next album had begun and they were still "throwing around ideas". The update was on the same day that Waking the Fallen went Gold in America.On November 5, 2009, Zacky Vengeance posted a message on the official website stating that they had returned from their tour and immediately started focusing on forming a production team in order to start recording the album. "We will continue finalizing our songs until we feel every note does both you as well as us justice. We are also in the final stages of solidifying our production team, studios and engineers so that the second the axe falls and the album is written we will spend day and night in the studio until it is complete. This album will definitely take you on a very dark journey..."
On December 24, 2009 it was announced that Avenged Sevenfold had come in second place on Ultimate Guitar's Top Ten Bands of the Decade, losing the top spot to Metallica. The December 31, 2009 edition of Kerrang! magazine included an interview with M. Shadows, in which Shadows stated the following about the album; "It’s a dark record. The music is emotional. Our goal is to make every single part memorable, we want to evoke reactions live and at home. It’ll have big rock ballads, the big fun stuff, the piano, the choir, the orchestra and all the visual things you expect but with a different, moodier vibe. Lyrically, I’ve been inspired by everything from the ways kids are brought up nowadays, to schooling, the economy, religion, war and the behaviour of our government. It all plays into how kids are so emotionally detached from the real world right now."
Death of The Rev and joining of Mike PortnoyEdit
On December 28, 2009, drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead at his home at the age of 28. Autopsy results were inconclusive, but on June 9, 2010, the cause of death was revealed to have been an "acute polydrug intoxication due to combined effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Diazepam/Nordiazepam and ethanol". In a statement by the band, they expressed their grief over the passing of The Rev and asked that his family's privacy be respected:
- It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world's best drummers, but more importantly he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy's family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time.
Shown on Avenged Sevenfold's official website was a message from Sullivan's family which expressed their gratitude to his fans for their support:
- "We would like to thank all of Jimmy's fans for the heartfelt comments that have been posted — it is comforting to know that his genius and antics were appreciated and that he was loved so much. Our hearts are broken — he was much too young to fall. Óg agus saor go deo (forever young and free)"
In addition to comments made about the death of Sullivan, the band's manager Larry Jacobson expressed how Sullivan was a kind figure to all. Jacobson stated within the interview that;
- He was expressive. He'd tell you how he felt about you — you didn't wonder because he'd put his arm around you", he said. "He knew how to tell his friends he loved them."
In addition to Jacobson, over 50 musical artists have commented upon the death of Sullivan.
The January 13, 2010 edition of Kerrang! featured an article about the death of The Rev, in which fans and stars paid tribute to him. Simultaneously, Zacky Vengeance expressed his own feelings about the passing, stating that "Jimmy will always be with me in everything I do. Except sitting at home being sad, so today I'm going to try to start living again. foREVer."
In an interview with M. Shadows about the death of The Rev, Shadows confirmed a July release for Avenged Sevenfold's fifth album. "I have so much to say but can't find the words so I will wait until time can allow me to find a way to express myself. As for the rest of us, it has become clear what we need to do. We had just finished writing a record with Jimmy. I can’t promise what the future holds because right now it’s too painful to think about, but we know we need to record and put out this record in honor of Jimmy, for Jimmy. He would call me every night to talk about songs and tell me 'this shit is gonna change the world.' I agreed with him, unfortunately I didn’t know it would be on these terms. Please be patient with us for we cannot imagine how hard this is gonna be to get through, we just know we have to do it for his legacy. After that, who knows?"
Along with an interview conducted by the Huntington Beach Independent newspaper, Jimmy Sullivan's parents, Babara and Joseph revealed the following information about Avenged Sevenfold's new album: “Most important to him, Jimmy had just finished writing songs for Avenged Sevenfold’s new album — he even called one his ‘masterpiece.’ When he wrote songs, he would record tracks of his singing, playing the piano and drumming — then, when he played them for me, he would sing the orchestra or guitar parts that would be added later. I am thankful that I got to tell him how much I liked and admired his music. Later, Barbara commented that, "Jimmy wrote some really good songs. I was so proud of him, and I know that even though it will be very hard for them, the band will do a great job getting them recorded soon. Needless to say, these ‘all Jimmy’ recordings are almost impossible for me to listen to yet, but what a blessing to have them.”They plan to dedicate their new album to The Rev.
On February 17, 2010, Avenged Sevenfold stated that they had entered the studio, along with now former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, to drum for the record, in place of the Rev. "I want our fans to know that with Jimmy in our hearts, our journey to record has officially began. Jimmy helped leave this world an amazing gift and now it's our job to make sure to deliver that gift to our fans. We asked Jimmy's all time favorite drummer Mike Portnoy to record on behalf of him. Mike said it would be an honor and without question that’s what Jim would have wanted. It's comforting to us that someone like Mike, who is undoubtedly revered as one of the best drummers in the world, held such respect and adoration for the Rev's abilities. Even though it will never be the same without our brother by our side, his essence lives in our hearts and through the music he helped create. He was a legend before any of the success or any of that bullshit and we are fucking excited to lay this down for our fans, and especially for Jimmy."
On April 17, 2010, a short message from Zacky Vengeance was posted on the official Avenged Sevenfold Twitter: "Tracking is complete. There are no words that will ever describe the feeling of listening to this album while driving home alone at 4 am."
The single "Nightmare" was digitally released on May 18, 2010. A preview for the song was released on May 6, 2010 on Amazon.com, but was removed soon after for unknown reasons.
On May 12, 2010, M. Shadows and Synester Gates stopped by HardDrive (radio show) where they explained details on Nightmare prior to its release:
- [...] The new album, Nightmare, is dedicated to The Rev memory and although it's not exactly a concept album, it does center around The Rev. The eeriest thing about it is there is a song on the album called "Fiction" (a nickname The Rev gave himself) which started out with the title "Death". And the song was the last song The Rev wrote for the album, and when he handed it in, he said, that’s it, that’s the last song for this record. And then 3 days later, he died.
Mixing for the album had been completed in New York City, and the album was finally released worldwide on July 27, 2010. It met with mixed to positive reviews from music critics but was well received by the fans.Nightmare beat sales projections easily, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 163,000 units in its first week.
Departure of Portnoy and new drummer (2010-Present)Edit
On December 16, 2010, Portnoy announced via Facebook that he would no longer be working with Avenged Sevenfold. The band posted a statement on their website on December 17, 2010 stating that Mike Portnoy will not be their replacement for The Rev. A new, yet unnamed drummer has been selected for trial during the shows in 2011 to potentially become a permanent member.
On January 20, 2011, Avenged Sevenfold announced via Facebook that former Confide drummer Arin Ilejay will tour with them starting this year. Whenever he will be joining the group in a permanent position is not yet known.
Avenged Sevenfold will perform at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals on June 3–5, 2011 alongside other bands such as Alter Bridge, System of a Down, and In Flames.