Formation and Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (1999–2002)
The band was formed in March 1999 in Huntington Beach, California by Matt Sanders, James Sullivan and Matt Wendt. Although they are not a religious band, Sanders came up with the name as a reference to the story of Cain and Abel from the Bible, which can be found in Genesis 4:24. Shortly after their formation, they were joined by an acquaintance from high school, Zachary Baker, who played in the punk-band MPA at the time.
Avenged Sevenfold's first creative output was a three-track-demo, some months later, they were asked by Sadistic Records to contribute to two compilations. To that end, they recorded two new songs and released them along with the previously recorded songs on a second demo in early 2000. They sent this demo to the Belgian label Good Life Recordings and were subsequently signed. Shortly afterward, Matt Wendt left for college and Justin Meacham, the previous bassist of Suburban Legends joined Avenged Sevenfold. In late 2000, the foursome took on their initial stage names and recorded their debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. In early 2001, lead guitarist and old friend Synyster Gates joined the band and they re-recorded the introductory track "To End the Rapture" for the album's lead-single/EP, Warmness on the Soul, released in April. Although their debut album was initially planned for a late April release, it was pushed back multiple times and eventually released in June or July 2001 on Good Life Recordings.
Around August 2001, Meacham attempted suicide by drinking excessive amounts of cough syrup. The attempt was the reason for Avenged Sevenfold to join the Take Action Tour in 2003. During Meacham's hospitalization, he remained in poor condition and had to leave the band. In an interview, lead singer M. Shadows said of Meacham that "he perma-fried his brain and was in a mental institution for a long time, and when you have someone in your band who does that, it ruins everything that's going on all around you, and it makes you want to do something to prevent it from happening to other people." His replacement was Dameon Ash, who performed with the band for the following months, but does not appear on any releases.
On January 18, 2002, Avenged Sevenfold left Good Life Recordings and signed with Hopeless Records. They re-released their debut album on March 19 and also appeared on the Hopelessly Devoted To You Vol. 4 sampler in April. The band started to receive recognition, performing with bands such as Mushroomhead and Shadows Fall. They spent the year touring in support of their debut album and participated in the Vans Warped and Take Action tours. Towards the end of the year, Dameon Ash left Avenged Sevenfold and in November, their current bassist Johnny Christ joined them, completing their best known line-up.
Waking the Fallen and City of Evil (2003–2005)
Having found a new bassist, the group released their second studio album titled Waking the Fallen on Hopeless Records in August 2003. The album featured a more refined and mature sound production in comparison to their previous album. The band received profiles in Billboard and The Boston Globe, and again played on the Vans Warped and Take Action tours. 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 officially signed to Warner Bros. Records on November 1, 2003.
City of Evil, the band's third album and major label debut, was released on June 7, 2005 and debuted at No.30 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 30,000 copies in its first week of release. It utilized a more 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 screamed and growled 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". The album received positive reviews from several magazines and websites and is credited for propelling the band into international popularity.
Avenged Sevenfold (2006–2008)
Avenged Sevenfold in 2007
After playing Ozzfest in 2006, Avenged Sevenfold memorably beat out R&B Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown, Panic! at the Disco, Angels & Airwaves and James Blunt for the title of Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, thanks in part to their Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-inspired song "Bat Country." 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 No.2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts, No.6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts and the accompanying video made it to No.1 on MTV's Total Request Live. Propelled by this success, the album sold well and became Avenged Sevenfold's first gold record. It was later certified platinum in August 2009.
Avenged Sevenfold was invited to join Ozzfest tour on the main stage, alongside other well known rock/heavy metal acts such as DragonForce, Lacuna Coil, Hatebreed, Disturbed and System of a Down for the first time in 2006. 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 a sixteen-month promotion of City of Evil, the band announced that they were cancelling their Fall 2006 tour to record new music. In the interim, the band released their first DVD titled All Excess on July 17, 2007. All Excess, which debuted as the No.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.
On October 30, 2007, Avenged Sevenfold released their self-titled album, the band's fourth studio album. It debuted at No. 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 June 15, 2008. Although critical reception was generally mixed the self-titled album went on to sell over 500,000 copies and was awarded "Album of the Year" at the Kerrang! Awards.
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".
Death of The Rev and Nightmare (2009–2011)
Avenged Sevenfold performing at the Sonisphere Festival
on August 2, 2009. This was The Rev's final show with the band before his death.
In January 2009, M. Shadows confirmed that the band was writing the follow-up to their self-titled fourth album within the upcoming months. They also played at Rock on the Range, from May 16–17, 2009. On April 16, they performed a version of Guns N' Roses' "It's So Easy" onstage with Slash, at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. On December 28, 2009, the band's drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead at his home at the age of 28. Autopsy results were inconclusive, but on June 9, 2010, the cause of death was revealed to have been an "acute polydrug intoxication due to combined effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Diazepam/Nordiazepam and ethanol". In a statement by the band, they expressed their grief over the death of The Rev and later posted a message from Sullivan's family which expressed their gratitude to his fans for their support. The band members admitted in a number of interviews that they considered disbanding at this point in time. However, on February 17, 2010, Avenged Sevenfold stated that they had entered the studio, along with now-former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, to drum for the album, in place of The Rev.
Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates live in Norway in 2011
The single "Nightmare" was digitally released on May 18, 2010. A preview for the song was released on May 6, 2010 on Amazon.com, but was removed soon after for unknown reasons. Mixing for the album had been completed in New York City, and Nightmare was finally released worldwide on July 27, 2010. It met with mixed to positive reviews from music critics but was well received by the fans. Nightmare beat sales projections easily, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 163,000 units in its first week. After finishing recording, in December, Portnoy and the band posted simultaneous statements on their websites stating that he would not be their replacement for The Rev. However, Portnoy did travel with the band overseas in December 2010 for three shows in Iraq and Kuwait sponsored by the USO. They played for U.S. Soldiers at Camp Adder, Camp Beuhring, and Balad Air Base. On January 20, 2011, Avenged Sevenfold announced via Facebook that former Confide drummer Arin Ilejay would begin touring with them that year. He was not yet considered a full-time member at this point.
Avenged Sevenfold performed at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals on June 3–5, 2011 alongside other bands such as Alter Bridge, System of a Down, and In Flames. On April 2011, the band headlined the Golden God Awards held by Metal Hammer. The same night the band won three awards for "Best Vocalist" (M. Shadows), "Epiphone Best Guitarist(s)" (Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance) and "Affliction's Album of The Year: " for Nightmare, while Mike Portnoy won the award for "Drum Workshop's Best Drummer" for his work on the album.
Avenged Sevenfold headlined the 2011 Uproar Festival with supporting acts Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet for My Valentine, Escape the Fate, among others. In November and December 2011, the band went on their "Buried Alive" tour with supporting acts Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria, and Black Veil Brides.
Hail to the King and Waking the Fallen: Resurrected (2012–2014)
On April 11, 2012, Avenged Sevenfold won the award for "Best Live Band" and "Most Dedicated Fans" at the Revolver Golden Gods awards.
The band toured through Asia into April and early May, and played at the Orion Music + More, Festival on June 23 and 24 in Atlantic City, New Jersey alongside Metallica and Cage the Elephant among many others.
On September 24, 2012, Avenged Sevenfold released a new song, titled "Carry On"; it was featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. On November 15, 2012, vocalist M. Shadows said that the band had been working on a new album since the recording of "Carry On" in August 2012. The band began recording material for the album in January 2013. The band then started streaming snippets of the album in May 2013 on their new radio app. There, Arin Ilejay was confirmed as an official band member and replacement of deceased The Rev. M. Shadows said that the album would sound more blues rock-influenced and more like classic rock/metal like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
The band was confirmed to play at the 2013 Rock in Rio festival on September 22, 2013. On May 24, 2013, the band have announced dates for their European tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Device serving as their support bands.
The album, entitled Hail to the King, was released on August 27, 2013. This is the first Avenged Sevenfold album without any musical contributions from deceased The Rev. The album's lead single and title track was released on July 15, 2013. Hail to the King charted as No. 1 on the US Billboard 200, the UK albums chart, as well as the Finnish, Brazilian, Canadian, and Irish charts, and was commercially and critically acclaimed. The band headlined Monster Energy's Welcome to Rockville two-day music festival in Jacksonville, FL, April 26–27, 2014, joined by more than 25 rock acts, such as Motörhead, Rob Zombie, Chevelle, Korn, Staind, Alter Bridge, The Cult, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Black Label Society, and Seether. On June 13, the band headlined the Friday night of Download Festival 2014. The band also headlined the Mayhem Festival 2014 with Korn, Asking Alexandria, and Trivium.
In March 2014, vocalist M. Shadows revealed in an interview with Loudwire that the band had plans in the works to put something out for the overdue 10th anniversary of Waking the Fallen. Waking the Fallen: Resurrected was released August 25, 2014. The reissue charted No. 10 on the US Billboard 200.
Drummer change and The Stage (2015–2017)
In October 2014, M. Shadows confirmed that the band would begin writing their seventh album during mid-2015.
In July 2015 the band announced on their website that they would part ways with drummer Arin Ilejay, due to "creative differences". In October 2015, the band announced on their website that they had been working with a new drummer for over a year, making sure that it was a good fit before making sudden changes. On October 21, in an interview with Kerrang! magazine, guitarist Zacky Vengeance revealed that the band had been working on the new album for the past couple of months and that a couple of songs had already been completely written. On November 4, 2015, the band announced that Brooks Wackerman would replace Arin Ilejay as the drummer for Avenged Sevenfold. In an interview with Kerrang! magazine on December 3, guitarist Zacky Vengeance said that the new album went in all sorts of aggressive and melodic directions and described it as very "aggro".
On January 14, 2016, Billboard reported that Avenged Sevenfold had been sued by Warner Bros. for trying to leave the label. The band later released a statement clarifying that they wanted to leave because a majority of the executives who helped sign the band to Warner Bros were no longer at the label. They also revealed that the band was going to be entering the studio to record their new album very soon, intending to release it later in 2016. On March 31, the band posted a teaser of their upcoming album on their website.
On August 18, 2016, the band performed a free live show for 1500 people in Minnesota, marking it the first live performance with new drummer Brooks Wackerman. The band was announced as support for Metallica with Volbeat in the U.S. Bank Stadium on August 20, 2016, making it the first ever rock show in the stadium. The band was announced as a headliner of Monster Energy Rock Allegiance 2016, along with Alice in Chains, Slayer, The Offspring, Breaking Benjamin and others. Avenged Sevenfold also performed on "Louder Than Life" festival as headliners on October 1, with Slipknot, Slayer, Disturbed, Korn and other artists. On June 21, the band announced a U.S. Fall tour with Volbeat, Killswitch Engage, and Avatar. The band also announced a UK tour for January 2017 with Disturbed and In Flames. Avenged Sevenfold was announced as a headliner of 2016 edition of Knotfest Mexico. The band also announced the European Tour for February and March 2017 along with Disturbed and Chevelle.
On October 3, 2016, the band's logo Deathbat started appearing as a projection in London. After that, Deathbat also started appearing in Berlin, Toronto and Paris, indicating a release of the new album. On October 12, Chris Jericho posted an Instagram photo of the Deathbat logo with a date 12/9/16 underneath it. He then revealed the supposed title of the album, Voltaic Oceans, It was later revealed that the new album would actually be called The Stage, a concept album about artificial intelligence, which was released on October 28, 2016 via Capitol Records. The album was released to generally favorable reviews, and the band decided to make a unique stage production for it, hiring Cirque du Soleil directors for its making.
Avenged Sevenfold was announced as the main support act on Metallica's WorldWired 2017 stadium summer tour in the US and Canada, alongside Volbeat and Gojira. The band also announced a series of 2017 US headlining summer shows of The Stage World Tour, with Volbeat, Motionless in White, and A Day to Remember as special guests across various dates.
On December 22, 2017, the band released a deluxe edition of The Stage that included one new original track, six cover songs, and four live tracks from their European tour earlier that year.
In a December 2017 interview with Billboard, M. Shadows revealed that the band are planning "a big US summer 2018 tour", and that the band would start working on the follow-up to The Stage in late 2018. End of the World tour with Prophets of Rage was later announced for summer 2018. The band was also announced as one of the headliners of 2018's Rock on the Range and Download Festival, in addition of appearing at Hellfest, Graspop Metal Meeting, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park the same year. Due to a blood blister forming in M. Shadows' throat, the band cancelled remaining dates from their summer tour with Prophets of Rage.
Avenged Sevenfold was nominated at 60th Annual Grammy Awards in "Best Rock Song" category for The Stage.
The band released a new single titled "Mad Hatter" which is the part of a 4-song EP. The song is to be featured in the forthcoming sequel of the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The complete EP consists of three previous tracks along with "Mad Hatter" that Avenged Sevenfold has produced for the video game in the past.
Upcoming eighth studio album (2018–present)
In a December 2017 interview with Billboard, M. Shadows revealed that the band are planning "a big US summer 2018 tour", and that the band would start working on the follow-up to The Stage in late 2018. Bassist Johnny Christ in a May 2018 interview confirmed that the band is currently getting ideas and writing in their own studios to start the next record in September or October 2018.
In September 2018, Synyster Gates revealed in an interview with Loudwire that the band has started working on their eighth studio album, saying "It’s still early on, but we’re working on a bunch of stuff".
In March 2019, Zacky Vengeance stated the band would take the rest of the year off tour to concentrate on the upcoming album, saying the band is really focused on the new material.