Avenged Sevenfold is an American rock band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1999. The band has achieved mainstream success with their 2005 album City of Evil, which included singles such as "Burn It Down", "Bat Country," "Beast and the Harlot" and "Seize the Day." The band's success followed with their self-titled album, with singles such as "Critical Acclaim", "Almost Easy", "Afterlife", "Scream" and "Dear God".
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, although it is 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 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)
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 epic, 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 screaming 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".
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. They would go onto win "Best New Artist" at MTV's Video Music Awards, beating out artists like Rihanna, Panic at the Disco and Chris Brown.
Self-titled album (2007-2008)
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, the band's fourth album, was released on October 30, 2007, debuting at #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 September 30, 2008. The self-titled album went onto sell over 500,000 copies and was awarded "Album of the Year" at the Kerrang! Awards.
Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough (2008?2009)
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" (the first two of which were included on "Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough"). 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.
New album (2009 onward)
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In January 2009, M. Shadows confirmed that the band is 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. In 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 has also been confirmed to be a featured vocalist on Slash's forthcoming solo album Slash & Friends.
M. Shadows and the rest of the band has expressed interest in making a follow-up to Avenged Sevenfold. 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 classic 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 page updated with a statement from Shadows implying that work on this next album has started, but they are still "throwing around ideas". This update was on the same day that Waking the Fallen went Gold.
In an interview, vocalist M. Shadows has revealed that after the band will complete their tour with a final performance at the Sonisphere Festival on August 2, they will get in the studio to write and record a new studio album, a follow-up to their self-titled album.
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In general, Avenged Sevenfold is classified as an important and influential band in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Their material spans multiple genres and has evolved over the band's ten year career. Initially, Avenged Sevenfold's debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet consisted almost entirely of metalcore sound; however, there were several deviations to this genre, most notably in "Streets" which adopts a punk style and "Warmness on the Soul," which is a piano-oriented ballad. On Waking The Fallen, the band displayed a more refined and fluent metalcore album that was able to harness the rawness of the first album and add more mature and intricate musical elements. In the band's DVD All Excess, producer Andrew Mudrock 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, developing a more punk metal/thrash style. Also, the drumming on both these albums is played in a more thrash-influenced alternative metal style. Avenged Sevenfold's self-titled album, again, consists of several deviations to less consistent genres and styles from the album's main hard rock and heavy metal songs, most notably in "Dear God", which adopts a country style and "A Little Piece of Heaven", which includes elements of Broadway show tunes, using primarily brass instruments and stringed orchestra to take over most of the role of the lead and rhythm guitar. The band has changed considerably since its first album, which since then they have been characterized as a heavy band with screams and growls combined with clean vocals that one can expect from the metalcore genre.
Band name and lyrical content
The band's name is a reference to the Book of Genesis in the Bible - specifically Genesis 4:24, where Cain is sentenced to life in exile for murdering his brother. God marked him so that none would kill him on account of his sin; the man who dared to kill Cain would suffer "vengeance seven times over" (KJV). The abbreviation "A7X" for their band name was the idea of guitarist Zacky Vengeance. The title of Avenged Sevenfold's song "Chapter Four" refers to the fourth chapter of Genesis, in which the story of Cain and Abel takes place. The song's subject also appears to be this story. "Beast and the Harlot", yet another song derived from the Bible, comes from the Book of Revelation only it is written in the first person and refers to the punishment of Babylon the Great, world empire and seat of false religion. Another biblical reference occurs in the song "The Wicked End". In this song, several times it is said "dust the apple off, savor each bite, and deep inside you know Adam was right." making reference to Eve eating the forbidden fruit. Although the band's title and members' stage names make references to religion, Shadows stated in an interview that they are not a religious band. "Anyone that reads the lyrics and really knew anything about us, they would know we're not promoting either," he said. "That's one thing about this band that I love is that we never really shove any kind of, like, political or religious beliefs on people. We just, the music's there to entertain and maybe thought-provoking on both sides, but we don't try to, like, really shove anything down anyone's throat. There's too many bands that do that nowadays, I think." The band has a few songs that are somewhat political in nature like "Critical Acclaim", "Gunslinger" and "Blinded In Chains". The song "Betrayed" off of their album "City of Evil" was written about "Dimebag" Darrel's, of Pantera and Damageplan, death.
The band sports a logo known as the "Deathbat". It was originally designed by an artistic high school friend of Avenged Sevenfold, Micah Montague, as seen on the band's first DVD, All Excess. The Deathbat has appeared on all of the band's album covers, many of which were done by Cameron Rackam, a close friend of the band. The Deathbat has developed from just being a skull with bat wings, to sometimes appear as a full "man size" skeleton with bat wings, as it can be seen at the cover of City of Evil. On Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, there are pictures of two people (Presumably Cain and Abel), another angel-like human and a semi-opaque Deathbat below it. It also appears on covers of a number of singles such as "Bat Country", "Warmness on the Soul" and "Critical Acclaim."
M. Shadows ? lead vocals, keyboards, guitars, synth, organ (1999 - present)
Synyster Gates ? lead guitar, backing vocals, piano, keys, synth, organ (2000 - present)
Zacky Vengeance ? rhythm guitar, backing vocals, acoustic guitars, piano (1999 - present)
Johnny Christ ? bass, backing vocals (2002 - present)
The Rev ? drums, percussion, backing vocals, piano (1999 - present)
Dameon Ash ? bass (2001?2002)
Justin Sane ? bass, piano (2000?2001)
Matt Wendt - bass (1999?2000)