Avenged Sevenfold (sometimes abbreviated as A7X) are an American rock band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1999. The band's members are lead vocalist M. Shadows, rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Zacky Vengeance, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Synyster Gates, bass guitarist Johnny Christ, and drummer and percussionist Arin Ilejay.
They are known for their diverse rock sound and dramatic imagery in album covers and t-shirts.Avenged Sevenfold emerged with a metalcore sound on their debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet but their style had evolved by their third album and first major label release, City of Evil into a hard rock/heavy metal sound. 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 in 2009. Despite his death, the band continued on with help of now-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, their first number one debut.
Formation and early recordings (1999–2000)
The 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. Matt Wendt was later replaced by Justin Sane who was originally the bassist for Suburban Legends.
Before the release of their debut album, the band recorded two demos in 1999 and 2000.
Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and Waking the Fallen (2001–2004)
In the mid-2001, former bassist Justin Sane was reported that he had a suicide attempt performed by drinking excessive amounts of cough syrup.However, he was still alive. His suicide attempt had an impact on the band's Take Action Tour. He then was in the hospital for a while and was in poor condition and had to leave the band and was replaced by Dameon Ash. In an interview during the middle 2001s with lead singer M. Shadows about it, he said "He perma-fried his brain and was in a mental institution for a long time," Shadows said. "When you have someone in your band who does that, it ruins everything that's going on all around you, and it makes you want to do something to prevent it from happening to other people."
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, 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, the group released their second studio album titled 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 (2005–2006)
City of Evil, the band's third album and major label debut, was released on June 7, 2005 and debuted at No.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 positive 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 & 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 No.2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts, No.6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts and the accompanying video made it to No.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.
Avenged Sevenfold and death of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan (2007–2009)
Avenged Sevenfold was invited to join Ozzfest tour on the main stage, alongside other well known rock/heavy metal acts such as DragonForce, Lacuna Coil, Hatebreed, Disturbed and System of a Down for the first time in 2006. 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 a sixteen month promotion of City of Evil, the band announced that they were cancelling their Fall 2006 tour to record new music. In the interim, the band released their first DVD titled All Excess on July 17, 2007. All Excess, which debuted as the No.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.
On October 26, 2007, Avenged Sevenfold released their self-titled album, the band's fourth studio album. It debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 with over 90,000 copies sold. Two singles, "Critical Acclaim" and "Almost Easy" were released prior to the album's debut. In December 2007, an animated video was made for "A Little Piece of Heaven." Due to the song's controversial subject matter, however, Warner Brothers only released it to registered MVI users over the internet. The third single, "Afterlife" and its video was released in January 2008. Their fourth single, "Dear God", was released on June 15, 2008. Although critical reception was generally mixed the self-titled album went on to sell over 500,000 copies and was awarded "Album of the Year" at the Kerrang! Awards.
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".
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.
On December 28, 2009, the band's 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 later posted a message from Sullivan's family which expressed their gratitude to his fans for their support.
Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates live in 2011. The band members admitted in a number of interviews that they considered disbanding at this point of time. However, 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.
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. Mixing for the album had been completed in New York City, and Nightmare 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. After finishing recording, in December, Portnoy and the band posted simultaneous statements on their websites stating that he will not be their replacement for The Rev. However, Portnoy did travel with the band overseas in December 2010 for three shows in Iraq and Kuwait sponsored by the USO. They played for U.S. Soldiers at Camp Adder, Camp Beuhring, and Balad Air Base. On January 20, 2011, Avenged Sevenfold announced via Facebook that former Confide drummer Arin Ilejay will tour with them starting this year. Whether or not he will be joining the band on a permanent basis has not been decided yet.
In May 2011, it was confirmed that the band had written a new song to be included in the Escalation DLC pack for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. The song is the first time developers Treyarch have commissioned an outside band to contribute a song since the franchise began. The song, titled "Not Ready to Die", was released on iTunes on May 2, 2011.
Avenged Sevenfold performed 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.On April 2011, the band headlined the Golden God Awards held by Metal Hammer. The same night the band won three awards for "Best Vocalist" (M. Shadows), "Epiphone Best Guitarist(s)" (Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance) and "Affliction’s Album of The Year: " for Nightmare, while Mike Portnoy won the award for "Drum Workshop’s Best Drummer" for his work on the album.
Avenged Sevenfold headlined the 2011 Uproar Festival with supporting acts Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, Escape The Fate, among others. In August 2011, vocalist M. Shadows stated the band would finish the Uproar Festival, then go home to take a break for six to seven months before starting a new record. He also roughly stated that Arin Ilejay and the band are getting along great, but they have to make sure he's comfortable writing music with them, but he hopes everything works out. In November and December, 2011, the band went on their "Buried Alive" tour with supporting acts Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria, and Black Veil Brides.
Hail to the King (2012–present)
On April 11, 2012, Avenged Sevenfold won the award for "Best Live Band" and "Most Dedicated Fans" at the Revolver Golden Gods awards. The band toured through Asia into April and early May, and played at the Orion Music + More, Festival on June 23 and 24 in Atlantic City, New Jersey alongside Metallica and Cage the Elephant among many others.
On September 24, 2012, Avenged Sevenfold released a new song, titled "Carry On", it was featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. On November 15, 2012, vocalist M. Shadows said that the band has been working on a new album since the recording of "Carry On" in August 2012. In December, the band said that it plans to begin recording material for their next album in January 2013, with release planned for later in the year. In January 2013 the band started recording their new album. The band started streaming snippets of their new album in May 2013 on their new radio app. There Arin Ilejay is confirmed as an official bandmember and replacement of their deceased The Rev. In an interview with Metal Hammer about the new album, M. Shadows said that the album would sound more blues rock-influenced and more like classic rock and classic metal like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
The band was confirmed to play at the 2013 Rock in Rio festival on September 22, 2013. On May 24, 2013, the band have announced dates for their European tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Device serving as their support bands.
On June 26, 2013 the band revealed the title, album art and release date of their sixth studio album, entitled Hail to the King. Their new album will hit stores August 27, 2013. This is also the first Avenged Sevenfold album without any musical contributions from deceased drummer The Rev. The albums lead single & title track was released on July 15th, 2013.
Style and influences
The band has cited bands such as Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Bad Religion, Dream Theater, Motorhead, Megadeth, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, NOFX, Alice in Chains, Black Flag, Corrosion of Conformity, Suicidal Tendencies, The Misfits, Slayer, The Vandals, Rage Against the Machine, Korn, Deftones and AFI as their artistic influences.
The band has been categorized under many genres of music. Mainly considered heavy metal, hard rock and metalcore, Avenged Sevenfold's music has evolved over most of the band's career. At first, the band's debut album Sounding the Seventh Trumpet consisted almost entirely of metalcore sound; however, there were several deviations to this genre, most notably in "Streets" which shows a punk rock style and "Warmness on the Soul," which is a piano rock ballad. On Waking the Fallen, the band displayed the contemporary metalcore style once more, but added more clean vocals as well as more mature and intricate musical elements. In the band's DVD All Excess, producer Andrew Murdock explained this transition: "When I met the band after Sounding the Seventh Trumpet had come out before they had recorded Waking the Fallen, M. Shadows said to me 'This record is screaming. The record we want to make is going to be half-screaming half-singing. I don't want to scream anymore. And the record after that is going to be all singing.'"
On City of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold's third album, the band chose to abandon the metalcore genre, using a more hard rock style. Avenged Sevenfold's self-titled album, however, has some experiments with other music genres than that from City of Evil, most notably in "Dear God", which shows a country style and "A Little Piece of Heaven", which is circled within the influence of Broadway show tunes, using primarily brass instruments and stringed orchestra to take over most of the role of the lead and rhythm guitar. Nightmare contains further deviations, including a piano ballad called "Fiction" and a heavy metal sound with extreme vocals and a heavier sound on "God Hates Us" and "Not Ready to Die". The band has changed considerably since their first album, in which during that time they have been characterized as a heavy band with a screamed vocal style combined with a little bit of clean vocals, chugging guitar riffs and parts similar to breakdowns that one can expect from the metalcore genre. The band has also been described before as emo, post-hardcore, gothic rock, alternative metal, thrash metal, screamo and pop punk.
The band has been criticized for "not being metal enough".Vocalist M. Shadows responded to this with, "we play music for the sake of music, not so that we can be labeled a metal band. That's like telling us we aren't punk enough. Who cares?" Avenged Sevenfold is one of the notable acts for New Wave of American Heavy Metal.
M. Shadows – lead vocals (1999–present)
Zacky Vengeance – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1999–present)
Synyster Gates – lead guitar, backing vocals (1999–present)
Johnny Christ – bass (2003–present)
Arin Ilejay – drums (2013–present)
The Rev – drums, vocals (1999–2009; died 2009)
Matt Wendt – bass (1999–2000)
Justin Sane – bass (2000–2001)
Dameon Ash – bass (2001–2002)
Former session and live members
Mike Portnoy – drums (2010)
Arin Ilejay – drums (2011–2013)