Given the broad scope of Avenged Sevenfold's music, and the way that it has evolved from the metalcore roar of 2001's Sounding the Seventh Trumpet to the sprawling progressive rock of 2016's The Stage, it's not at all surprising to learn that A7X frontman M. Shadows' listening tastes encompass everything from punk to thrash to keyboard-driven classic rock.
Shadows and his bandmates paid tribute to some of their favorite artists on the expanded version of The Stage that was released in 2017, covering the disparate likes of Mr. Bungle, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Del Shannon. (A7X's eclectic taste is also reflected in the bill of their forthcoming End of the World tour with Prophets of Rage, Three Days Grace and horrorcore hip-hop act Ho99o9).
And now, at Revolver's behest, Shadows pulls the curtain back further on his formative influences with this ten-song playlist.
"These are the songs that totally shaped my life," he says. "Some of them were things I first heard when I was a kid, and some of them I didn't get into until much later. But they all really changed or impacted how I related to music, and opened my mind about the things you could do with it."
It's the quintessential GN'R song. My dad had heard it on Headbangers Ball one night, and he just flipped out and bought the tape. That song probably made me who I am today, because it made me become obsessed with Guns N' Roses, and obsessed with rock & roll, in general. I used to jump up on my bed and air-guitar to Slash solos. I would steal the tape, and then my parents found out I had it, so my dad made me an edited version of the tape; he took all the cuss words off it. And then I got GN'R Lies, and he didn't want me to have that at all, because of the lyrical content.
That one not only bridged the gap between the lighter and heavier stuff for me, but even today, the intro is probably one of the greatest pieces of metal with classically influenced guitar that I've ever heard. I still can't believe how good that chord change is in the beginning, the way it goes from the dark to the light. It just blows my mind. You look at "Nothing Else Matters" and "The Unforgiven" now, and you can hear where they were going with that song.
I still warm up to that song every night, and I never get sick of it. It's Elton John being pretty darn progressive, musically — the drums, the piano, everything in that song is brilliant to me. I love how fearless he was, opening such a big, ambitious album with an eleven-minute song, especially with all the other pop stuff on there like "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie and the Jets." It's made me an Elton John fan; now I have all of his stuff, because that song just blew my mind. All of his keyboard stuff — a lot of that Seventies synth stuff, those outer-space type chords — I love that, and we've definitely taken a lot of influence from it.
I would put all the parts in there. I've always been a big Pink Floyd fan, but one record I was late to get into was Wish You Were Here, because the songs on it were so long. I was like, "I don't want to sit through a fifteen-minute song to try and get into this record!" But one day in 2012, I was on a treadmill in Brazil, and I put it on and it just hit me; I was like, "This is one of the greatest pieces of music I've ever heard!" And it made me become completely obsessed with Pink Floyd, and never be intimidated by a song length again. If I'm going to the gym, or going to sleep, or going on a long drive, I always put that song on. It's kind of like "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," where you have this huge intro with no vocals, and then the vocals come in, and you're like, "What the fuck just happened?"
I'd been really into punk rock and Metallica, but when Far Beyond Driven came out, I felt like I was hit in the head with a ton of bricks! That's always been my go-to Pantera record, and "Strength Beyond Strength" kicked it off in a way that kind of blended punk with pure, unforgiving heavy metal. I loved that breakdown in the middle; as a young kid, I just couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Bad Religion has always been one of my favorite bands. This song's off Recipe for Hate, and "Skycraper" is one of the last songs on it. It just brings a tear to my eye — the lyric, the melody and the vocal. That's one song I can put on over and over and over, and never get sick of it.
This was the song that got me into punk rock. I was listening to things like Pearl Jam and Guns N' Roses at the time, and anything that was on KROQ or KNAC. My buddy David Allen gave me the Unknown Road CD; it was like my second CD after Pearl Jam Ten. Unknown Road got me obsessed with punk rock; it got me learning about Warped Tour, and into bands like Guttermouth and NOFX. It definitely lit a candle for me, so I have to think that this was an important song in my life. It got the ball rolling.
I remember when that got played on KROQ for the first time. We were trying to catch it, trying to make a tape of it, trying to record it in the car, because there wasn't any music on the internet yet, and the record wasn't out yet. Brian [Synyster Gates] was finally able to do it, so we had this warbly tape with someone like [KROQ DJ] Stryker talking over it. It just blew our minds; we couldn't believe that something like that was getting played on the radio. We were like, "What is this? It's the craziest song we've ever heard!" And it totally opened our minds to the idea that you can do things that are very different and still make them palatable to people, in a mainstream sense. I never understood how they got their sound until we did that Linkin Park benefit for Chester recently. Daron was there, and watching him go up there and play his guitar — it just sounded like fucking Daron, and when he screams in the mic, it's him. I've always loved his voice, and loved the hot and cold between him and Serj. I just respect that band so much, because they have their own sound and no one can copy it.
I was really into punk rock by this point, but when NOFX put out Punk In Drublic, me and Jimmy [Sullivan, a.k.a. The Rev, A7X's late drummer] stole the tape from Tower Records; we sat in his room listening to it, and we just could not believe the vocal harmonies, and how quick the songs were. It was just song after song after song — like, barely two minutes long — with these brilliant vocal melodies and harmonies. It was like Queen doing speed punk, and it totally blew our minds! All we wanted to do at that point was play in a punk band, and "Linoleum" is just the quintessential NOFX song to me.
This was like the most shocking thing I'd ever heard on the radio. I remember I was playing basketball in my front yard — I had the hoop on the roof — and KNAC playing was playing "Sweating Bullets" by Megadeth. I was like, "What the fuck is this?" The guy is talking the lyrics like he's psychotic; when I saw the album artwork the next day, with Vic Rattlehead, I was like, "That's exactly what I pictured the person talking on that song to look like!" It was so crazy, and it opened me up to Megadeth. Metallica was on KROQ all the time, but Megadeth wasn't on KROQ; you just didn't hear it. You had to dig a little bit below the surface to get to the Megadeth stuff. And at the time, not knowing anything of the history between the two bands, it just seemed out of this world in terms of metal. So that's another song that really stuck out to me, another really weird song that people took chances on.