No other musical act has brokered a truce between heavy metal and screaming punk quite like the heavily tattooed chaps of Avenged Sevenfold, who are set to perform in the capital on Friday. For the unacquainted, here's a primer on their thrashing brand of sound.
Commonly shortened to A7X, the band's name is a reference to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, although they stress they're not a religious act.
The group is composed of M Shadows (vocalist), Zacky Vengeance (rhythm guitarist), Synyster Gates (lead guitarist) and Johnny Christ (bassist). Former members are James "The Rev" Sullivan (drummer), Matt Wendt (bass), Justin Sane (bass) and Dameon Ash (bass). They claim their pseudonyms were their high school nicknames.
Four 18-year-old high school students from California came together in 1999 to form a hardcore punk band, influenced by Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and Deftones.
They officially emerged on the scene two years later, with their debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet.
As the boys matured, so did their sound. Their follow-up album, Waking the Fallen, featured more refined melodies - and the new bassist Johnny Christ. It caught the attention of The Boston Globe, which gave the band their first profile. "Dramatic flair, impressive harmonies, a muscular melody," the paper wrote.
In 2005, the band sought a more classic metal sound. In their DVD film All Excess, the producer Andrew Murdock explained: "After Sounding the Seventh Trumpet had come out, M Shadows said to me, 'This record is screaming. I don't want to scream anymore. And the record after that is going to be all singing'."
Let go of the growls they did. M Shadows worked with the vocal coach Ron Anderson, who trained the Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose to fuse grit with tone.
Their third album, City of Evil, released under their first major label Warner Bros, was a triumph. Credited for propelling the band to popularity, it went on to become their first platinum record.
Sound of success
A musical coup occurred in 2006 when the band memorably beat the more commercial James Blunt, Rihanna and Chris Brown for the Best New Artist award at the MTV Video Music Awards. Additionally, their single Bat Country reached number two on Billboard's mainstream rock chart and its music video made it to number one on MTV.
After embarking on their first world tour in 2006, with stops in the UK, Japan and Australia, the band released their fourth album, the self-titled Avenged Sevenfold.
On stable ground
In December 2009, The Rev died of a drug overdose. After briefly considering disbanding, the band went back in to the studio two months later.
The result was their fifth album, Nightmare, which gave them their first number-one debut on the Billboard 200 charts.
Now, with more than four million albums sold worldwide, the band continues to produce exciting punk rock.
Ultimate Guitar, the authoritative online guitarist community, placed them second in their Top Ten Bands of the Decade list.
Songs to listen to
Verse yourself in A7X's language with these punk picks: Bat Country, the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-inspired song that won for them the MTV citation; A Little Piece of Heaven, an avant-garde metal song influenced by Broadway show tunes, using brass instruments and a stringed orchestra instead of lead and rhythm guitars; Not Ready to Die, the song they wrote for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops; and Buried Alive, which was recently nominated for Revolver magazine's Song of the Year.
Avenged Sevenfold are performing at the Flash Forum, Yas Island, tomorrow. Tickets, priced at Dh315, are available at www.thinkflash.ae and Virgin Megastore outlets.
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