Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant performs at the Orion Music and More Festival at Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 23rd, 2012.
The cartoonish metalcore band Avenged Sevenfold, also known as A7X, mix screamed vocals and a hardcore punk-inspired metal guitar attack with pop hooks, creating a musical cocktail as contradictory as the band's political outlook. Claiming to be conservative patriots, the band advocates the traditional heavy-metal lifestyle of strippers, substance abuse and horror-show lyrics.
Singer M. Shadows (b. Matthew Charles Sanders, July 31, 1981, Huntington Beach, Calif.) and guitarist Zacky Vengeance (b. Zachary James Baker, Dec. 11, 1981) were still in high school when they formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999 in Huntington Beach, California. Later adding guitarist Synyster Gates (b. Brian Elwin Haner, Jr., July 7, 1981, Huntington Beach), bassist Johnny Christ (b. Johnathan Lewis Seward, Nov. 18, 1984, Huntington Beach) and drummer The Rev, aka The Reverend Tholomew Plague (b. James Owen Sullivan, Feb. 10, 1981), the band released its first album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001) on the Belgian indie label Good Life Recordings. The following year, A7X signed with L.A.-based punk indie Hopeless Records, which re-released the debut and followed it with 2003's Waking the Fallen, which reached Number 12 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. Warner Bros.' signed the band and released City of Evil (Number 30, 2005), which spawned successful rock singles "Bat Country" (Number Two Mainstream Rock, Number 6 Modern Rock, 2005) and "Beast and the Harlot" (Number 19 Mainstream Rock, Number 40 Modern Rock, 2006).
A7X's popularity soared with the release of its 2007 self-titled album, which went to Number Four on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. The album, which found the band flirting with genres far outside its comfort zone including pedal steel-fueled country ("Dear God") and a Queen-style show tune ("A Little Piece of Heaven"), spawned the popular single "Almost Easy" (Number Three Mainstream Rock, Number Six Modern Rock, 2007).