The first thing that hits you square in the jaw about Avenged Sevenfold is the name, its specificity.
Sure, they could've called themselves Smoted Two or Three Times but that wouldn't tell the full story of retribution and revenge that Avenged Sevenfold handily implies.
And therein lies this band's earliest claim to greatness.
Another band looked at the Book of Genesis and named their band . . . Genesis. "Blah!," said M. Shadows and company, "Later for that!"
Perusing the bit about the Lord promising "vengeance seven times over" to anyone daring to harm a hair on Cain's head, he proclaimed, "We are Avenged Sevenfold!"
You almost wish they were keeping a tally of every music business executive that stood in their way from day one, waiting for the day when payback would be imminent, like Elvis Costello supposedly did early in his career before he became everybody's pal.
In truth, the five that make up Sevenfold were embraced almost immediately by the industry and had a deal before they were even on the other side of teendom.
And yet there are plenty of people who curse the name Avenged Sevenfold and wish them nothing but hard luck and misfortune for having called all the shots in their meteoric career, which was recently capped with the ultimate success-as-revenge item, a double CD/DVD package: the Diamonds in the Rough CD (a cupboard clearing of rare recordings and b-sides) and the Live at the LCB DVD (a live concert in Long Beach, California).
That's just the latest in trendsetting moves by the band that dared to dare, which brings us to the seven ways in which Avenged Sevenfold distanced their wares from the pack.
I. Their cool individual names!
Never underestimate the power of choosing a cool band member name for yourself. Marilyn Manson did it but you can immediately see the formulaic thought process behind naming yourself after a hot chick and a mass murderer, like Madonna Wayne Gacy or Daisy Berkowitz did. It takes real free spirit to come up with handles like M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, The Rev, Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ and keep a straight face when registering in at hotel front desks. Even some past Avenged members couldn't work ludicrous name angle very well. Which is why Justin Meacham and Matt Wendt are in a Where Are they Now file with non-conformist Pete Best, who you'll recall missed out on worldwide fame with the Beatles simply because he refused to comb his hair vertically.
2. Their ambivalence to spelling correctly!
Maybe this was just to cheese off their English teachers but for Avenged Sevenfold, two of the three Rs, Readin' and Ritin' got the short shrift on the band's second album Waking the Fallen. Like hastily scribbled suicide notes, three songs beginning with the letter R are grossly misspelled- Reverand (sic), Reverance (sic), and Remenissions (siccer). Not since the Zombies purposely misspelled Odessey (sic) and Oracle to combat a brainy image and Slade got typographers to print backward letters on their misspelled titles has such laissez faire existed in the spelling department.
3. They dare to court schizophrenia!
Lots of bands go from sotto voce to growl at the drop of a time signature and Avenged Sevenfold are no exception. Where Avenged deviates from their contemporaries is their willingness to not only run the gamut of extreme voices but also to contradict everything they've just said in the previous song. Refer back to Waking the Fallen again. It is no coincidence that I Won't See You Tonight Part 1, a majestic yet determined statement of avoidance that clocks in at almost nine minutes, is followed by I Won't See You Tonight Part 2, an angry plea for said person to "Come back to me, this is inconceivable," covering twice the beats in half the time. In metal, this about face hardly registers a blip but in the outside world, such two-faced dementia is usually rewarded with a room made of rubber.
4. They dare to court country
Not only is their Dear God far less blasphemous than the song of the same name by Brit-poppers XTC, but also it's got pedal steel like Kenney Chesney and a melody like Peter Frampton's Baby I Love Your Way. Can you say double-crossover?
5. They dare to court new fans
With the release of their first major-label album, City of Evil on Warner Brothers, they totally messed with their trademark screaming sound, worked up some emo-friendly melodies and upped the harmonized guitars to get that "Iron Maiden shoves Brian May through a Cuisinart" sound. And then they introduced the aforementioned pedal steel and strings on their second, self-titled WB release. Two hundred fifty-one out of 895 itune listeners found this disgruntled review helpful: "Ewww! Why? If you're a fan of their older work, don't buy this . . . it will only make you angry." Maybe he should've qualified that with "It'll only make you as angry as a band called Avenged Sevenfold making radio-friendly music can make you angry."
6. They dare to cross-promote
In 2007, they performed Scream on the Spike Scream Awards. This is huge. Just ask anyone who's ever written a song called Emmy, Oscar or Tony how far they ever got with their award show cross-promotional endeavors. If only they could've performed Afterlife on Crossing Over with John Edward.
They also used You Tube as a promotional tool by posting "making of the album" cartoons for their eponymous 2007 album as well as fake interviews with Wolfie, the band's studio mascot, a stuffed wolf that sounds suspiciously like Triumph the Insult Dog.
7. They laugh at critical acclaim
How? By naming a song Critical Acclaim so even after Rolling Stone only gives their last studio album two stars, speed readers will see those two words and blur their own conclusions. That's chutzpah sevenfold!