Avenged Sevenfold

  • Heavy metal/Alt metal band formed in 1999 from Huntington Beach California. The primary members of the band were M. Shadows (Matthew Sanders – lead vocals, piano), Zacky Vengeance (Zachary Baker – rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Synyster Gates (Brian Haner – lead guitar, piano, backing vocals), Johnny Christ (Jonathan Seward – bass guitar, backing vocals) and The Rev (Jimmy Sullivan – drums, piano, lead vocals). All members contributed to songwriting, with M Shadows and The Rev the main contributors.
  • Sanders, Sullivan and Matt Wendt were friends from middle school with a mutual interest in hard rock music. They learned to perform their instruments in high school, and during their senior year, the formed a band, naming themselves Avenged Sevenfold. The name is a biblical term, referencing the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, in the book of Genesis. While the band was not religious, the members claimed to be kicked out of Catholic school. Soon after forming, they added high school friend Baker to the group on guitar.
  • In 1999, they recorded a demo of three songs, and the following year they added two more. They sent to demo to various record companies, and an independent label based in Belgium signed them to a contract. They contributed a song to two heavy metal compilation albums, and then Wendt left the group to go to college. He was replaced by Justin Meacham, and in late 2000 they took on their stage names (Meacham became Justin Sane). They recorded their debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, which was released in the summer of 2001. Old friend Synyster Gates contributed to one song, and by the time the album was finished, he was brought into the band as a member, taking over lead guitar duties. The album was warmly received, but with limited promotion, it did not chart.
  • Soon after the album was released, Sane attempted suicide, and he had to leave the band. He was replaced by Frank Melcom, who took the stage name Dameon Ash. Ash toured with the band for a year and then was replaced by Johnny Christ. This new lineup recorded their second album Waking the Fallen, which was released in 2003. It was more polished than their first album and it was highly acclaimed. It included the song Unholy Confessions, their first single to receive significant airplay, but despite heavy rotation of its video, it did not chart.
  • After signing with a major label, they released their third album, City of Evil, in 2005. It had more of a classic heavy metal sound, and the vocals were refined – the screams and growls from their earlier albums were absent, and they abandoned all punk elements that were part of their earlier work. With the improved exposure of a major label, the album reached #30 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it eventually was certified platinum. The single Bat Country reached #2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and #60 on the Hot 100, and its popularity on MTV helped them win the Best New Artist award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2006, beating out Rihanna, Chris Brown, James Blunt and others.
  • Now known internationally, they continued their success with 2007’s self-titled album, Avenged Sevenfold. It reached #4 on the album chart and was certified platinum. The single Almost Easy topped the UK Rock Singles chart and peaked at #3 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. The album was chosen Album of the Year at the UK Kerrang! Awards.
  • In 2009, the band announced plans to record a new album. Before the album was completed, The Rev was found dead in his home – he was 29 years old. He died from a high level of opioids and alcohol in his system. The band considered breaking up but ultimately they completed the album with a session drummer. The Nightmare album was released in the summer of 2010. It debuted at #1 on the album chart, and was certified platinum. Three singles from the album topped Billboard’s Active Rock chart – Nightmare, Welcome to the Family and So Far Away. 
  • Arin Ilejay joined the group as drummer in 2011. The Hail to the King album was released in 2013, topping the album chart. It was their fifth album to be certified platinum. Hits from the album were the title track and Shepherd of Fire – both reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. In 2015, Ilejay left the band and he was replaced by Brooks Wackerman. Their last album of the 10s decade was The Stage, released in 2016. It was a concept album about artificial intelligence, and the title track received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song. They contributed four songs to the soundtrack of various Call of Duty: Black Ops video game releases between 2011 and 2018 – the songs were released on an EP in 2018 called Black Reign. 
  • The logo for Avenged Sevenfold is called the Deathbat, and if you’re a fan, you can join Deathbat Nation and the Deathbat Club. Reportedly they have been working on a new album since 2018 – but there is no word on a release. If you want to experience metal music in the new millennium, give Avenged Sevenfold a listen. Here’s the video to Hail to the King. Very metal!

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