Die Mitglieder von AVENGED SEVENFOLD waren gerade dabei, das Album ihres Lebens zu schreiben. Doch plötzlich veränderte ein Ereignis alles. Ihr Drummer Jimmy „The Rev“ Sullivan starb.
Sie hatten nicht nur ihren Drummer verloren, sondern auch ein Familienmitglied – einen Menschen, der seit Kindheitstagen der beste Freund des Sängers M. Shadows und Gitarrist Synyster Gates war und der im Laufe der Zeit als einer der erstaunlichsten und talentiertesten Schlagzeuger im Rock Genre angesehen wurde. Er wurde nicht nur von seiner Band, sondern auch von seiner erweiterten Familie, den Fans, geliebt.
„Nightmare“, das Album, an dem die Band arbeitete, als Jimmy Sullivan Ende Dezember letzen Jahres starb, schien schon damals ein sehr dunkles Meisterwerk zu werden, ein Konzeptalbum, welches eine Reise durch Wahnsinn, Verzweiflung und den Tod antritt.
Genau genommen begann diese Reise bereits 1999, als AVENGED SEVENFOLD gegründet wurde und 2001 ihr Indie-Metal Debut „Sounding the Seventh Trumpet“ (bei der Aufnahme waren die Mitglieder erst 18!) veröffentlichte. Es folgte 2003 das grandiose „Waking The Fallen“, das konstant überraschende und grenzüberschreitende „City Of Evil“ (2005) und im Jahre 2007 schließlich das selbstbetitelte „Avenged Sevenfold“. Außerdem kann man sich auf der 2008 veröffentlichten CD/DVD „Live in the LBC & Rough Diamonds“ ein wunderbares Bild von den Live Qualiäten der Band machen.
Doch das echte Leben und der entsetzliche Verlust, den die Freunde erleiden mussten, ließ die Weiterarbeit am neuen Album unmöglich für Shadows, die Gitarristen Synyster Gates und Zacky Vengeance, sowie Bassist Johnny Christ erscheinen.
“We were going to see if we could write another song or two,” sagte Shadows über die Tage nach Jimmy’s Tod, “And we couldn’t. We weren’t in the mood for it. Sitting there trying to figure out chord progressions and guitar parts felt ridiculous.
Jedoch erkannte die Band nach einiger Zeit, dass es in der Tat unmöglich für sie war, NICHT an dem Album weiterzuarbeiten, wäre dies doch fast ein Verrat an Rev’s Erbe.
Die meisten Texte wurden umgeschrieben, Dream Theater Drummer Mike Portnoy spielte die anspruchsvollen Drumparts ein und Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem, Regina Spektor) übernahm die Rolle des Produzenten. Synyster Gates schrieb das erste Mal an den Lyrics mit, so dass er in dem Song „So Far Away“ in textlicher Hinsicht seine volle Trauer zum Ausdruck bringen konnte. Man kann sagen, dass „Nightmare“ im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes das wohl schlimmste persönliche Erlebnis der Band dokumentiert.
“It’s about how we were feeling at the time and are still feeling,” sagt Shadows. “When it first happens it’s much more intense. I realize now that we’re going to have to live with it and it’s never going to go away. The record is a lot different than if we hadn’t opened ourselves up right when it happened. We were more vulnerable and willing to put it out on the line.”
“‘Victim’ is about the first day we found out,” sagt Shadows, der gerade unterwegs war, als er von Jimmy’s Tod erfuhr. „I came back, stuck in traffic, crying, talking to his mom. And everyone came to my house. So it’s about that, everyone gathering. Pretty deep but transparent at the same time. Very much describing everything without any holding back. We did that so many ways on this record. Syn wrote 'So Far Away,' an open letter to him. And 'Buried Alive' is how we were feeling at the time — Can't breathe, the whole world has changed.”
Schlussendlich ließ der Song “Fiction”, den Jimmy zuletzt schrieb, alle Zweifel an der gemeinsamen Weiterarbeit verschwinden.
“He wouldn’t have wanted us to stop, and if it had been any one of us, it would be the same”, sagt Bassist Christ. “Especially since he had written the song. ‘Fiction’ is one hundred percent his. You want people to hear how brilliant Jimmy really was, his songwriting as well as drumming. A lot of people know how great a drummer he was, but few know what a big part he played in the writing.” “Fiction” ist sicherlich der gefühlvollste und emotionalste Song auf dem Album, auch wenn der Titel und die Lyrics nun wie traurige Ironie scheinen:
“I know you’ll find your own way, when I’m not with you tonight” schrieb Sullivan
“This song is the proof that every aspect of our friend and every aspect of Avenged Sevenfold is more than just a regular band,”, sagt Vengeance. “Jimmy, talented guy that he was, wrote one of the most clairvoyant songs ever, basically telling everyone goodbye and finishing it days before he died and wanting it to be called ‘Death.’ It’s just a song unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. That’s what we call a true artist, who tried to create something that’s never been done, in a way that touches people. And his voice is on it – the only song with his voice on the album.”
Über den Song „Save Me“ hat Shadows folgendes zu sagen: „It's my favorite track. Very Rush, Dream Theater, but with our own twists. We don't play too much and try to keep it focused. If you're going to make an 11-minute song you can't bore people. The riff is the first riff we made for this record. That dund-dund-dund thing, Jimmy was playing that, such a cool off-time thing. Coolest ever. That kick-drum pattern and then when he speeds up the snare, all over the place. We tried to write a song around it. Jimmy wrote a lot of the song – it was 15 minutes long and we started cutting it down. It was the first one we wrote and the last we finished. We had to get to the point where everything worked. I'm so proud of this. The ending is hard to listen to, but it’s a perfect thing. If you listen to it and let it go straight back to the beginning with 'Nightmare,' it comes full circle.
Zusammengefasst ist dieses Album ein Mix aus der gesamten Geschichte von AVENGED SEVENFOLD. Man kann sowohl die frühesten Einflüsse und Inspirationen der Band heraushören, als auch das breite Spektrum der individuellen Geschmäcker, die sich über die Jahre entwickelt haben.
Die beiden Mikes – Elizondo und Portnoy – sind jeweils über ihre Rollen hinausgewachsen.
Produzent Elizondo war schon vor Rev’s Tod mit an Bord. Eine für Außenstehende zugegebenermaßen merkwürdig anmutende Kombination, jedoch nicht für die Band: “He came to us wanting to do the record as a fan of the band and as a fellow musician,” sagt Vengeance. “His repertoire consisted of massive rap, and some country, pop, hip-hop.”
Mike Portnoy hingegen betrat ein emotionales Minenfeld, hinsichtlich der bandintern vorherrschenden Trauer, als er auf die A7X traf. Er meisterte den Spagat zwischen respektvoller Zurückhaltung und dem eigenen herrausragenden Talent als Schlagzeuger jedoch perfekt.
“Mike is the sweetest person, a vessel for us to use and transfer Jimmy’s legacy through onto tape,” sagt Gates. “He said, 'I’ll spend three days giving three or four takes of each song. It ended up taking two and a half weeks, and he did it with a smile. He hung out, shared stories. He was our knight in shining armor.”
Vengeance fügt hinzu, “He really helped us a lot, making sure every note was true to Jimmy. He made no apologies. He said this is how it had to be, note for note the way it was intended to be. He was an absolute pleasure to be around and a true fan of music and our band.”
We count down the 20 best Avenged Sevenfold songs of all time and hear the real stories behind how they were made in this ultimate career-spanning guide to the band's best work
‘ You can feel my strength destroy you, straight to the heart from the venomous bite ’ hisses Shadows, using up as many snake references and metaphors as he possibly can in what seems to be a song written about an unnamed subject who is, to be frank, a bit of a slimy cunt.. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)Avenged Sevenfold were never really ones to wind their necks in, were they?. ‘They’ve never contributed a fucking thing to the country they love to criticize’ he rages.. You may not be too surprised that this song, like so many of Avenged’s more unique moments, came predominantly from The Rev.. Whenever there was a fucking piano, he’d always be playing it and it would always be original stuff.. Jimmy wasn’t the guy who needed a pat on the back, but he was really proud of that chorus.
From 2001’s Sounding The Seventh Trumpet to 2016’s The Stage, we rank Avenged Sevenfold’s best tracks...
The first single released from 2005’s game-changing City Of Evil wasn’t just an exuberant signal that Avenged were leaving metalcore behind in favour of a more gleeful brand of heaviosity; it’s one of the most breathlessly enjoyable cuts in their catalogue, full stop.. Showcasing their vision and ambition in early, unrefined form, Sounding The Seventh Trumpet can feel slightly schizophrenic in its switches between full-blooded, goth-tinged metal and fist-swinging hardcore aggro, but there’s a delicious purity in their unhinged intent.. A 15-minute musical interpretation of the Big Bang and the beginning of universal existence, gunning for the profound grandeur of classical masterpieces like Holst’s The Planets as much as anything from the history of heavy music, this was mainstream metal on another plane.. It’s time for something real !’ Although the sub-Call Of Duty mindset of its Iraq-war era politics – calling out those with the temerity to criticise American foreign policy on the domestic stage – mightn’t look all that righteous in retrospect, the bold musical motifs (an organ intro that evokes Ozzy classic Mr. Crowley), outside-the-box songcraft (The Rev nailing a mischievous chorus) and the sheer courage of its convictions mean that Critical Acclaim remains an unmissable listen.. A stomping heavy metal banger (barely) masquerading as metalcore, its duelling leads, bludgeoning riffage and lyrics as unapologetically mighty as ‘ I've come here to kill you, won't leave until you've died / Murder born of vengeance, I closed my brothers eyes tonight !’ would’ve fit as well on the main stage at Wacken as the cramped clubs they were about to explode out of.. Sure, Avenged had exhibited the audacity, skill and dexterity to be metal’s next big thing for the best part of a decade, but by 2013 many doubted whether they could distil their deceptively complex formula enough to claim their place in metal’s top tier.. Throwing gasoline on the hellfire and brimstone of their early work, a chorus of groaning brass and tolling bells bursts into a snarling masterclass of classic metal: guitars alternately stabbing through the heart and stripping flesh from bone as a hammering percussive performance rises up from the depths below.. Although there’s plenty of unbridled ambition at play on the album version – the unhinged composition blueprinting a vision that wouldn’t be fully realised for a few more years – the shorter, sharper demo version featured on 2011’s WTF: Resurrected might be even better.. One of The Rev’s standout compositions – on which he also contributed vocals – the subsequent tragedy lent the song extra layers of poignancy in the years that followed, but there was something special right off the (death)bat.. The second single from 2007’s self-titled opus feels like a perfect balance of all the elements that make the band great, with piano and soaring six-strings slingshotting into one of the munchiest riffs they ever unleashed before rising through an uber-memorable vocal hook (‘ I’M NOT INSANE!. Focusing on the five core elements of their sound, deliberately pumping the brakes to allow time to breathe, then polishing them to the point of perfection – all the while delivering a regal concept every bit as extravagantly grandiose – Avenged delivered a metal anthem for the ages.. As both album opener and lead single for their fifth album – a record loaded with expectation and emotion, dropping just seven months after The Rev’s untimely passing – Nightmare felt like a definitive roll of the dice at a point where Avenged were on the precipice of superstardom.. Although a shortened single version was released, the near six-minute opener on City Of Evil was a non-stop showcase of the complexity, colour and ambition of a third album that was less about breaking free from the constraints of the Californian metalcore scene that had spawned them than changing the course of heavy metal for good.. The standout track from their breakthrough LP remains an infectious marriage of their metalcore roots (its screams and breakdowns feeling like relics from a more primitive time) and the grander metal influences they would strive towards, with runaway guitar leads, harmonised choruses and melodramatically overblown lyrics (‘ Constrict your hands around me, squeeze till I cannot breathe / This air tastes dead inside me, contribute to our plague ’) the order of the day.
From Sounding The Seventh Trumpet to The Stage, here are Avenged Sevenfold’s seven albums ranked from worst to best
Orange County's Avenged Sevenfold have undoubtedly been the biggest breakout stars in metal in this Millennium.. Over seven studio albums they have evolved from a underground goth punks, to arena filling hard rock superstars to festival headlining A-listers.. Every album has exhibited daring new ideas and continual creativity, so it's a challenge to crown their greatest moment, but we took it on regardless.. Here is A7X's back catalogue ranked from worst to best.. Released on Belgian punk label Good Life back in 2001, STST is by no means a bad first go at releasing a record, even if it is very derivative of the goth-leaning metalcore that was bubbling up through the underground courtesy of 18 Visions, xCanaanx and more, but the band would go on to outstrip it considerably with pretty much every release they recorded after that.. Brilliant opener Shepherd Of Fire is the exception, but Hail To The King is more remembered for the huge stage show that accompanied it.. The first album to be released in the aftermath of the death of drummer and band architect Jimmy “ The Rev ” Sullivan, Nightmare is a hugely emotional record and features some exceptional moments.. There are many reasons why City Of Evil is the definitive Avenged Sevenfold album.
Over five years on from The Stage, we’re finally getting closer to album eight from Avenged Sevenfold. And there’s a lot to get excited about…
While 2022 will undoubtedly bring a whole lot more uncertainty to the world, one thing that is for sure this year is that new Avenged Sevenfold music is finally on the way.. “We have all these things we can’t do,” M. told Kerrang!. in December 2020 .. So we’re just not worrying about it, you know?. “It’s going to be a three-year record to make.. And so if it’s going to take us two or three years to write a record, we’re not going to put it out if we can’t go play it live.”. And so we have all these things going on where we’re not gonna come back onstage and have the stage from The Stage record and then just go, ‘Well, same show four years later.. The record’s not done ’cause we couldn’t finish it.’. “So I would just say starting in January, we are gonna put our nose to the grind and we are gonna finish this record.. Surely this is how they’ll start teasing out new material when the time comes, too?. “The record sounds nothing like The Stage,” M. told K!. in December 2020 , “it’s a completely new direction, and it sounds nothing like anything we’ve done.. …from Kanye to jazz.. “The thing about Kanye is that he is pulling from such great soul music.