Iron Maiden, 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)
The first Maiden record I ever got was Piece of Mind, and I only got it because I thought the artwork was cool and everyone talked about Iron Maiden. But they weren't necessarily the most popular metal band in America for a 12-year-old kid when I discovered them. They were having more of a downturn with a different singer, but I'd heard about the heyday with Bruce Dickinson. So I picked up Piece of Mind and it was hard for me to wrap my head around how long the songs were, with so many different solos going on. When I went backwards and started buying more records, I found Number of the Beast, and that record is the one that just clicked with me and made me just a lifelong fan.
It was the songwriting that got me. it was concise, there were so many cool elements, all the dueling guitars. And I had been listening to In Flames and stuff like that, but I had never really heard where they were getting their influence from.
That record changed everything for me, and I remember bringing it to Brian [Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates] and bringing it to Zach [Avenged guitarist Zacky Vengeance] and then saying, "Man, these dueling guitars are so cool. Listen to what they're doing here. In Flames does it, but this is different. This just feels different. Like the way they're incorporating it is so cool.” And I remember that record changed a lot for us. It let us know that it's OK to have multiple solos in one song, and then just to change gears so quickly. So that was a big influence on Avenge Sevenfold, for sure.