Hail to the Kings as Avenged Sevenfold aim for the top of the metal pile
The California metallers have the chops to be the biggest metal band in the world
It is a long way to the top if you want to be the biggest heavy metal band in the world. Only Guns N’Roses nailed it first time. For the rest, it is a relentless slog. Most are not good enough and even the ones who have a chance give up, split up or fall out of fashion.
Into the void comes Avenged Sevenfold. The stakes are high, the expectations are great for Hail to the King, their sixth studio album. They have a genuine shot of joining the behemoths who have dominated the genre for so long.
There is only one contemporary band with the crossover appeal, the fan base and the back catalogue to become as big as the likes of Metallica or Iron Maiden. That band is Avenged Sevenfold and they know it.
“I honestly feel like we’re that band,” their guitarist Synyster Gates recently told Metal Hammer, which sounded liked a declaration of intent. “Our fans are fucking loyal. It’s just a question if we’ve got the songs to attract a billion more of them.”
Synyster Gates is one of the reasons why they are where they are; the other is lead singer M. Shadows, known to his friends as Matt and to his fans as Shadows, one of the most compelling characters in hard rock.
Avenged Sevenfold started out in Huntington Beach, California, in 1999. For a long time, it was a “slow underground swell” as Shadows put it. The switch from metalcore to mainstream metal with their third album City of Evil opened up a whole new fanbase, but it was their last album Nightmare which made them global.
Crafted in the trauma that followed the tragic death from a drink and drugs overdose of their drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, in December 2009, Nightmare topped the US Billboard 200.
More importantly, the record had staying power because it contained some of the best work that the band has done to date.
The title track, Buried Alive, So Far Away and Welcome to the Family showcased Avenged Sevenfold’s ability to mix tough with tender and to go from ballad to thrash metal, often in the same song.
“What we were really happy about is that, once the dust settled, all of our fans enjoyed and embraced Nightmare and they still embrace it to this day,” says Shadows.
“This is really way more important than the first-week sales. The reality is that if a Kanye West or a Lady Gaga puts out a record the same week, you’re not going to be number one.”
The metal press have been talking up the band’s prospects. They too are desperate for a marquee name to inspire a new generation of hard rock fans.
“Metal Hammer have Brian (aka Synyster Gates) quoted as saying we are going to carry the flag. The reality is that the fans are going to decide that. We’re just going to write the best music that we can,” says Shadows.