Music / Avenged Sevenfold
Left to Right: Zacky Vengeance, Brooks Wackerman, M. Shadows, Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ. Watching them from above: The Rev.

Avenged Sevenfold is a Hard Rock / Heavy Metal band from Huntington Beach, California. They formed in 1999 while still in high school, with singer M. Shadows, guitarist Zacky Vengeance, drummer The Revnote  and bassist Matt Wendt.

The band played the underground scene in America for several years, and their first album, the very Hardcore Punk Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, got them a small but dedicated fanbase in 2001. While the album's commercial success and reception were modest, Waking the Fallen was a much more polished Metalcore album, adding melodic elements, complex structures and more singing. It's around that time that the lineup finally stabilized after lead guitarist Synyster Gates and bassist Johnny Christ joined the band.note 

After the success of WTF, the band took a somewhat different direction with their third album City of Evil in 2005. Screamed vocals disappearednote , the riffs became faster, the melody even more prominent, the solos crazier, the storytelling more epic, and more symphonic elements were introduced. As a result, most of the album has a strong Speed Metal flavor. While baffling many of the early fans, the album was their definitive breakthrough hit and remains their highest-selling record to date, as well as their most consistenly popular.

After a Self-Titled Album in 2007 that was somewhat more pop-ish and veered into various territories, from Groove Metal to Country Music, the band was going for a darker and more progressive release with Nightmare, a concept album where all the songs were gonna tie into one story… Alas, that project went down the drain when The Rev suddenly passed away on Dec. 28, 2009, just after the album's writing phase was finished, from an overdose of alcool and prescription drugs for his enlarged heart. The lyrics were mostly rewritten after that, and the last two songs "Fiction" and "Save Me" feature The Rev's last vocal recordings. Mike Portnoy covered for his spot for the album's recording and the following tour, before the band found Arin Ilejay (of disbanded Californian metalcore band Confide) who toured with them in 2011 and 2012 and became a full-fledged member in 2013.

For their sixth album Hail to the King (2013), they deliberately adopted a more straight-forward and blues-based sound, closer to Traditional Heavy Metal and reminiscent of the '90s era Metallica or classic bands from the '80s (a bit too reminiscent for some). But because of Creative Differences Arin was replaced two years later by Brooks Wackerman who had just left Bad Religion. The following year was a bit bumpy for the band, as around the same time they left Warner Bros. for Capitol Records, resulting in a lawsuit by the former for breach of contract that has yet to be resolved.

After that little incident, the next album The Stage (2016) went back to a more technical and eclectic style, albeit with a different vibe from the pre-HTTK albums, borrowing more heavily from Progressive Metal and Thrash Metal, with Brooks bringing in some of his own ideas and stylistic influences. Meanwhile, Arin joined Islander.

Avenged Sevenfold (or A7X, as they are often called) are amongst the most popular alternative/heavy bands among teens and young adults the world over, and were instrumental in the creation of the new wave of Metalcore, a genre that combines hardcore punk with extreme metal. The band was in a state of turmoil after the Rev passed away, but they keep moving forward; no easy task as the five had been friends for most of their lives. Their lyrics are inspired by a wide range of themes, including references to the dead/undead, biblical themes and strong themes such as assisted suicide. They are also very vocal in their support for American troops around the world (which includes playing a concert for the soldiers in Baghdad in 2010). Also, at least one of their songs appears to be from a vampire's point of view, whilst A Little Piece Of Heaven is the Bloody Hilarious story of a couple of murderous zombies. The Stage is the oddball in that department, as it centers on space, man's place in the universe, and the potential and risks of scientific advances like artificial intelligence.

Current members:
  • Matt Sanders - M. Shadows (vocals) (1999-present)
  • Zachary Baker - Zacky Vengeance (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) (1999-present)
  • Brian Haner (Jr.) - Synyster Gates (lead guitar, backing vocals) (2001-present)
  • Johnny Seward - Johnny Christ (bass guitar, backing vocals) (2002-present)
  • Brooks Wackerman (drums) (2015-present)

Former members and fill-ins:
  • Matt Wendt (bass guitar) (1999-2000)
  • Justin Meacham − Justin Sane (bass guitar) (2000-2001)
  • Dameon Ash (bass guitar) (2001-2002)
  • James Owen Sullivan - The Rev (drums, piano, alternate vocals) (1999-2009, died 2009)
  • Mike Portnoy (drums) (2010)
  • Arin Ilejay (drums) (2011-2015)

The band's discography is:

  • Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001) note 
  • Waking the Fallen (2003) note 
  • City of Evil (2005)
  • Avenged Sevenfold (2007)note 
    • Diamonds in the Rough (2008) note 
  • Nightmare (2010)
  • Hail to the King (2013)
  • The Stage (2016) note 

They have shown examples of some Tropes:
  • Aerith and Bob: M. Shadows, Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance, Johnny Christ... Arin Ilejay and... Brooks.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Creating God" is about how men are starting to be dominated by their own inventions.
    Never held a high regard for Darwin, selection takes too long.
  • Album Intro Track: "To End the Rapture" and "Waking the Fallen" are only 1'30 long and open the first two albums. They stopped doing this with City of Evil for some reason.
  • Album Title Drop: City of Evil is dropped in "Beast and the Harlot".
  • All Drummers Are Animals: The Rev was the resident cloudcuckoolander. Watch him in any video. Arin could get pretty bestial too on stage.
  • Always Identical Twins: Michelle Dibenedetto-Haner and Valary Dibenedetto-Sanders, who are Brian and Matt's respective wives.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The band's name is lifted from Genesis 4:15, when God curses Cain not to be killed after he kills Abel by saying: "Shall Cain be killed, he shall be avenged sevenfold". The Cain and Abel story also serves as the basis for the lyrics of "Chapter Four" off Waking the Fallen.
    • "Beast and the Harlot" lifts many passages from Revelations 17 and 18.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Their stage names.
  • Berserk Button: Don't make jokes about Jimmy's death around a fan. Just don't.
    • If "Critical Acclaim" is any indication, bashing on soldiers is this for the band.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: M. Shadows and Synyster Gates are respectively married to Valary and Michelle DiBenedetto, who are twin sisters, thus making them both friends and in-laws.
  • Bloody Hilarious: "A Little Piece of Heaven"
  • Book Ends: Three instances.
    • Sounding the Seventh Trumpet starts and ends with the sound of rain and distant thunder.
    • "Beast and the Harlot" on City of Evil opens and closes with the same slow and epic melody reminiscent of a bell ringing, in contrast with the speed of the rest of the song.
    • "God Hates Us" on Nightmare does this with a quiet clean guitar melody, while the song itself is heavy and dark.
  • Butt-Monkey: Johnny Christ seems to be this for the rest of the band.
    Zacky Vengeance: You can't spell bass without ass.
  • Call-Back: The video for "Nightmare" has two, both referencing "Afterlife". One has a tarantula crawling on The Rev's drum kit, a call back to the tarantula on The Rev's face. The other is Zacky dancing with a skeleton, where he was dancing with his girlfriend in "Afterlife".
    • The Rev wrote "Fiction", which has the line, "Promise me you'll never feel afraid." After his passing, Syn wrote "So Far Away", which has the line, "Sleep tight; I'm not afraid."
    • Similarly, "Fiction" has the Rev singing "I know you'll find your own way when I'm not with you." The final track "Save Me" has M. Shadows sing "Help me find my way."
    • The video for "Shepherd of Fire" can only be described as Bat Country meets the Willy Wonka demon tunnel.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Bat Country", "A Little Piece Of Heaven", "Beast And The Harlot", "Trashed And Scattered," "Crossroads", "Almost Easy" (Especially in the CLA Mix), Most tracks on Waking the Fallen and Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, and about two-thirds of The Rev's vocals. Usually a Metal Scream, and when M. Shadows does it, expect it to be accompanied by an Evil Laugh.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Rev.
    The Rev: There's one tattoo on my body that I can't show, that...Sometimes at night I feel like demons are attacking me, and I claw at it and try to get it off me. I might get it covered up. But I don't know, I don't even know why I brought it up. Next.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Trashed and Scattered" from City Of Evil has a pretty… colorful language in the chorus. It's actually censored in some copies of the album.
  • Concept Album:
    • Nightmare started out as one before it largely became a tribute album to The Rev. You can nevertheless make out general themes in the songs that aren't directly about him (mostly in the first half): they all feature someone dying one way or another and revolve around madness and/or retribution. Though according to M. Shadows, "Nightmare" and "Danger Line" were the only two songs left untouched.
    • The Stage is one about artificial intelligence and the self-destruction of society.
  • Cool Shades: M. Shadows is rarely seen on stage without them.
  • Conspicuous CG: "Buried Alive"'s music video uses rather cheap 3D animation representing squelettons in hellish caves above a sea of flame.
  • Cover Version: Two major instances.
    • The B-side album Diamonds in the Rough includes two straight covers of Pantera's "Walk" and Iron Maiden's "Flash of the Blade". There's also a lesser known cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid".
    • In 2017, following up on The Stage, they started to release a whole series of covers, including Chingon's "Malaguena Salerosa", a metal version of Mr. Bungle's "Retrovertigo" ,a punk-rock version of Del Shannon's "Runaway", as well as rock covers of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By", and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". They deliberatey chose non-metal songs this time to have more leeway in covering them, as they find it "boring" to cover songs that are already metal.
  • Crowd Song: Many of their singles, but "This Means War" warrants this mention as it's actually used for the music video. The entire Hail to the King album was explicitly written with this in mind.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arguably with Nightmare, being an entire album about Jimmy's passing, with pretty heavy songs like "God Hates Us" and the very depressing "Victim" and "Tonight the World Dies". Similarly, Hail to the King is surprisingly grim-faced and straightforward compared to the theatrical, over-the-top productions that came before it, with only "Planets" breaking up an otherwise solid lineup of completely serious metal songs.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The song "Dancing Dead", of course, on Diamonds in the Rough.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Hail to the King".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Sounding the Seventh Trumpet is mostly a Hardcore Punk album. Johnny isn't in the band yet, Synyster Gates' guitar solos are nowhere to be found (besides "To End The Rapture" on the re-release) since he joined the band just after finishing recording, The Rev is pretty much doing fills constantly for the whole album, M. Shadows barely sings (And when he does, well...), and "Streets" is a leftover punk song from one of M. Shadows' first bands.
  • Easter Egg: Watching certain parts of All Excess, the DVD, will unlock a number of hidden videos.
    • Especially "Unholy Confessions".
  • Emo Music: Started out as one of the first metalcore bands (or maybe metal bands in general) to take influence from emo bands like AFI and Thursday. In fact even when they were a metalcore band on their first two records they sounded more like a heavier, more metal influenced version of the darker emo bands at the time like Thursday, Thrice, and early My Chemical Romance rather than other metalcore contemporaries like Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall. Even after they changed to pure heavy metal elements of emo were still clearly influential on their sound. As of "Hail to The King" these influences have been almost completely dropped (YMMV on whether this is a good thing or not).
  • Epic Rocking: They are known to do this on occasion, but most notably on the album City of Evil, on which only one song is under five minutes and four are over seven, "Save Me" from Nightmare which is almost eleven minutes, and "Exist" from 2016's The Stage which is almost sixteen minutes, making it the longest A7X song to date.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: M. Shadows has this reputation.
  • Every Episode Ending: The closer for their sets is almost always "Unholy Confessions".
  • Evil Laugh: Matt seems fond of these. Also The Rev throws in a few during A Little Piece Of Heaven and Afterlife.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Beast and the Harlot" ends with a little bit of guitar violence (if it can be termed as such), which then takes a backseat for the drum opening of "Burn It Down".
  • Famous Last Words: The Rev's last appearances and writing credits were on "Fiction", written three days before his death, and come off eerily as this (The song is specifically written about accepting death and saying goodbye and is named after one of his old nicknames). His last recording ever was the "Skull!" in the intro to "Save Me". Nobody's really sure why he recorded it or what it was for.
  • Filk Song: "Bat Country".
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Leader: M.Shadows, the voice and main businessman of the band.
    • The Lancer: Synyster, the melodic heart of their music and main backing vocalist.
    • The Smart Guy: Zacky, well-read and self-proclaimed "nitpicking guy" in the studio.
    • The Big Guy: Brooks, the tallest member and drummer.
    • The Heart: Johnny, the prankster-in-chief who's always laughing.
  • Foreshadowing: A musical foreshadowing. While Waking the Fallen was mostly pure melodic metalcore, the last track "And All Things Will End" featured an intro, rhythmic parts and even some vocal parts that were already pretty close to what the next album City of Evil would sound like, especially in the first half.
  • Genre Shift: Avenged Sevenfold does this thrice, with "A Little Piece Of Heaven" suddenly being composed mostly of brass and showtune instruments and is composed in a style more similar to Danny Elfman than any of their previous songs, then immediately. Another one includes "Dear God", which has more in common with a country blues song than a metal one. Then there's also "Gunslinger" — which can best be described as a blend of country, blues, and rock. They also do this a few times on the "Nightmare" album: particularly with the strictly piano-based ballad "Fiction" (which was the last song Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan wrote, and the one song on the album to feature his vocals) and the heavily blues-based "Tonight the World Dies" (with slide guitar to boot). Then, on "Hail to the King", the album ends with the blues ballad "Acid Rain".
  • Grief Song: So Far Away, which was written for Syn's grandfather. When Jimmy died, the lyrics changed to being about him. Fiction is also about Jimmy, despite being written and sung by him....
    • It's safe to say Nightmare is all of this.
    • "I Won't See You Tonight, Parts I and II", written for former bassist Justin Sane, who left the band after a failed suicide attempt (and medicines prescribed to prevent another) left him psychologically unfit to tour.
  • Guyliner: A few of them have used it, but especially Brian during their pre-Nightmare period.
  • Harsh Vocals: On earlier releases, and on "God Hates Us" from Nightmare.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: "Strength of the World"
  • Heel Realization: After his girlfriend came back from the dead to kill him in "A Little Piece of Heaven".
    Now that it's done I realize the error of my ways // I must venture back to apologize from somewhere far beyond the grave. // I gotta make up for what I've done // 'Cause I was all up in a piece of heaven // While you burned in hell, no peace forever
  • Hellfire: The whole Hail to the King album has a recurring evil fire motif, be it "Shepherd of Fire", everything burning down in in "Requiem", the theme of "Heretic", or the "gates of fire" in "Coming Home"., among other things. Since the album is largely an homage to the Traditional Heavy Metal of the 70's and 80's, you could say this is par for the course.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The group as a whole has this relationship with each other, but special mention goes to Brian, Matt, and Jimmy, and within that trio, Jimmy and Brian. Bit of a Downer Ending there. They have stated that even if they stopped being a band, they would still be just as close with each other.
  • I Love the Dead: "A Little Piece of Heaven"
  • I Meant to Do That: For Brooks' first concert with the band in 2016, he got on stage a bit late and missed the first beats of "Nightmare", creating some confusion. M. Shadows tried to pass it as a "warmup show" and they started over.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Again, "A Little Piece of Heaven".
  • Intercourse with You: "Girl I Know" on Diamonds in the Rough.
  • Large Ham: M. Shadows and The Rev, though with M. Shadows it's only when he's performing or singing, in person he's pretty calm, nice, and down-to-earth. The Rev on the other hand, was just like this always.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "And All Things Will End" ends in a solo that's increasingly off-key and slows down into a nightmarish cacophony.
    • "Nightmare" seems to end in silence for a few seconds, before an ominous echo fades in a the last moment and stops abruptly.
  • Long Runner Lineup: Matt and Zacky are the only two members who were there from the start, but ever since Johnny Christ joined in 2002, the band's lineup has remained exactly the same… or would have if not for The Rev's untimely passing. After which Mike Portnoy temporarily filled in, Arin Ilejay took the seat for a few years before Creative Differences kicked in, and now they seem to have found a stable replacement with Brooks Wackerman. Time will tell.
  • Loudness War: Many albums are brickwalled, though Nightmare and Waking The Fallen have the most obvious clipping. Hail to the King and The Stage inexplicably avert this.
  • Meaningful Name: Justin Sane, their second bassist, who attempted suicide via drinking cough syrup, and ended up in a mental institution for a long time, with it becoming apparent that he'd suffered brain damage.
  • Metal Scream: Quite a few songs start with or have these. The Beast And The Harlot, Bat Country, Natural Born Killer, to name a few. He also does this quite often with the first two albums.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "To End the Rapture" and "Waking the Fallen", which serve as Album Intro Tracks, are only 1'40 long. The band stopped doing those after their second album, though.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They've pretty much covered the whole scale, save for the highest levels. Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and Waking the Fallen were in the 8 range (with "I Won't See You Tonight Part 2" bordering on 9), and their later material usually borders on 7, sometimes going down to 6. "Nightmare" (the song) teeters somewhere between a 7 and an 8. While a couple other songs, like "God Hates Us", are a pretty solid 8. The Hail to the King album lowers the hardness down significantly. "This Means War" and "Planet", the heaviest songs on the album are only about a 5 (or maybe a 6, if you want to be generous). The power ballad "Crimson Day" dips down to 2 - while the blues-heavy ballad "Acid Rain" drops all the way down to one. The rest would be about a 4 or 5. The songs in The Stage go back and forth between 5 and 7, sometimes 8 (except for the power ballad "Angels" and the orchestral ballad "Roman Sky").
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, an album with dirty heavy guitars and screamed vocals, screeches to a halt when comes "Warmness on the Soul", a sweet love ballad, before going back to the screaming. You might think a song from another band accidentally ended up on the album.
    • On the contrary, God Hates Us, an angry metal song that brought back their former metalcore sound comes between So Far Away and Victim (two power ballads) on the album Nightmare.
    • Buried Alive starts out as a power balad but gets more hardcore after the guitar solo.
  • Murder Ballad: Again, "A Little Piece of Heaven"
  • New Sound Album: Pretty much every album adopts a different style, though some more drastically than others.
    • They started as pure metalcore on Sounding the Seventh Trumpet before adding more clean vocals on their sophomore album Waking the Fallen. But their biggest change came on "city of Evil" which contained only clean vocals and musically mixed old school thrash metal with the melodic ferocity, breakdowns, and Pop Punk/Post-Hardcore elements of modern day metalcore.
    • Their self titled album continued with this, although it was much more polished which rankled some fans, as well as having many examples of an out of genre experience such as the Danny Elfman style "A Little Piece of Heaven" and the country ballad "Dear God".
    • Nightmare was released after the death of their drummer "The Rev" and so was more sad and reflective, as well as featuring a piano ballad called "Fiction" and full on return to pure Metalcore (screamed lyrics and all) on "God Hates Us".
    • Then there's Hail to the King - which has been described by lead singer M. Shadows as "more blues rock-influenced and more like classic rock and classic metal in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin".
    • Finally, The Stage is a Concept Album that takes a more progressive approach, with more elaborate drums, a somewhat "colder" atmosphere than HTTK, a more extensive use of violins, horns and synthesizers, lyrics about space and technology, and a 70% instrumental, 15 minute long closing track ("Exist") that's probably their most experimental song to date.
  • The Nicknamer: When the band formed, Matt, Brian, Zack, and Justin all had to come up with cheesy stage names that they thought would piss people off. The Rev was already just "The Rev." Or Fiction, or Rat Head, or The Reverend Tholomue Plague,
  • Nightmare Face: Made by multiple people in the video for "Bat Country". Also, when the girl comes back as a zombie and face in the background of hell in "A Little Piece of Heaven".
    • Not to mention the videos for "Almost Easy" and "Nightmare". Hell, you can just about expect every other video to have at least one of these.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Nobody's sure how Arin Ilejay's last name is supposed to be pronounced. Syn pronounces it the Spanish way in an interview ('Ee-leh-high') but can also hear 'Eel-jay' or 'Ile-jay' depending on the person.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: The band torments Johnny over this all the time (all in good fun, of course), but averted by the fandom for the most part.
  • Power Ballad: Every album features at least one, though the love song "Warmness on the Soul" is notable for seeming completely out of place in the middle of Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. Nightmare, being a Tribute Album, is the most ballad-oriented album with "Buried Alive" (first half), "So Far Away", "Victim", "Tonight the World Dies" and "Fiction".
  • Pre-Order Bonus: The track "Lost It All" can only be acquired through pre-ordering the Nightmare album on iTunes.
  • The Quiet One: Compared to The Rev and his goofy antics, Brooks is more the composed and no-nonsense type. Even on stage, he's much less of a showman than The Rev or Arin.
  • Rated M for Manly: Surprisingly averted, given the style of music they play. Which is probably why the band has an unusually large female fanbase.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Carry On", as part of Call of Duty: Black Ops II They even get to rock with some of the cast in the epilogue. Later, they returned to Call of Duty: Black Ops III to provide a musical score for the game's multiplayer mode, called Jade Helm.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Critical Acclaim" is basically a 5-minute rant about people who blame the US army and the US's foreign policy a bit too much for their tastes. Needless to say it rubbed some people the wrong way.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "A Little Piece of Heaven".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: "Strength of the World"