Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates is one of the most formidable shredders of the 21st century, so it's no wonder that his taste in music skews technical. In a recent blog post on his personal website, the axeman opened up about his "fav prog record of all time," which he coincidentally happens to share a birthday with — Dream Theater's colossal 1992 opus, Images and Words.
"This was another band introduced to me by Jimmy," Gates penned, referring to A7X's late drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan. "He used to sneak a Walkman to school and play me ridiculous shit in the bathroom. This one stood out as having the most incredible musicianship I had ever heard."
"I was 13 when he played this record for me and it changed the way I looked at guitar," he continued. "I had no idea that what I was hearing could be accomplished on the instrument I had already spent years working on."
As Gates developed his own musical technique, he looked to the players on Images and Words — specifically guitarist John Petrucci and drummer Mike Portnoy — for inspiration. "Petrucci has been one of my favorite guitarists, rotating in my top three, since the very day I heard this light show of a record," the A7X axeman wrote.
"He certainly epitomizes my way of approaching the guitar more than any other player besides maybe my father," he continued. "With an endless pursuit of technique and harmony only to facilitate a melody and composition first approach to solos and songwriting."
Then, Gates went on to praise Portnoy's incredible drumming abilities, and how they blew his mind years before the two would get to play and tour together in support of A7X's 2010 opus, Nightmare.
"As a student of percussion as well, I was moved by how Mike Portnoy seamlessly and so fluidly supported all of these incredible riffs and time signatures in such a musical and cinematic way. And as smooth as this cat could play, he still managed to make the music heavy as fuck. Listen to 'Under a Glass Moon' for one of the greatest grooves of all time."
"Well I hope that you enjoy this record even a fraction of the amount that I do," Gates concluded. "It would be enough to change your life."