AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows spoke to U.K.’s Kerrang! magazine about the band’s sixth studio album, “Hail To The King”, which is scheduled for release on August 27.
The long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s “Nightmare” was once again produced by Mike Elizondo and is the first to be wholly written without drummer and key songwriter James “The Rev” Sullivan, who died in December 2009. Sullivan has since been replaced by Arin Ilejay, a former member of CONFIDE.
Asked how “Hail To The King” is different from AVENGED SEVENFOLD‘s previous efforts, Shadows said: “For the last few records, people have asked what we were listening to — and it’s always been the same records, it hasn’t changed. It’s always been PANTERA, METALLICA, MEGADETH and AC/DC. We feel that metal dropped off after the ’90s in terms of production and songwriting. Metal music isn’t at the forefront as much as it used to be.”
He continued: “We wanted to write a record that was highly influenced by the early ’90s records and mid-’80s records we grew up on. Then we went back even further and were influenced by [BLACK] SABBATH and LED ZEPPELIN. We studied those records, looked at what they were doing and how they were doing it. A lot of them came out of the blues, so we studied the blues and classical music. We just wanted to write a record that was different.”
Regarding what it felt like to be writing a full-length album for the first time without Jimmy, Shadows said: “When we started the band, The Rev didn’t write much. Up until ‘City of Evil’  and the [2007 self-titled] white album, he didn’t write much except his drum parts. So we kind of got back to before that. I definitely didn’t like it very much, though. [In the past], we’d get to a point where we had written six or seven songs and we’d feel completely drained. That was when he would always come in with three or four great songs, and that would pretty much fill the album. He brought a different influence; he was a full-on metalhead for life, and he could always write in whatever style you were looking for. So when we got to tracks six and seven for this album, we really missed him. I really wished Jimmy was there to finish the album up. But that wasn’t the case, so we had to really take our time.”
Shadows also spoke about how Arin has settled into the band saying: “He killed it on this record! He did everything we needed him to do. We didn’t go in there and write all the drum fills for him, or get on Pro Tools to fix it all. He just killed it. He knew what he needed to do, put in lots of work in pre-production and mentally got to the place he needed to be.”
He added: “The record will surprise people, because the drumming is completely different to anything we’ve done before. That’s because of the way the songwriting is. We wrote songs that needed this type of drumming. I spoke to Arin and said, ‘Look, people are going to come at you because of what this record sounds like. They’re going to think you should be overplaying like Jimmy and Mike [Portnoy, ex-DREAM THEATER and drummer on ‘Nightmare’] played.’ But if The Rev was here with us, this is how he’d have played it. He wouldn’t overplay it, he’d sit back in the groove and he’d try to make it as powerful as possible, rather than as technical as possible. I asked [Arin] if he was okay with that; I asked if he was okay with the hate he was going to get. He said he was, and that he wanted to do whatever was best for us and the songs.”
AVENGED SEVENFOLD took several months off after it finished touring to promote “Nightmare” — which included a headlining run on the 2011 edition of the Uproar Festival.
Asked how important it was it for the band to take a break before beginning work on the new CD, Shadows said: “We had to recharge our batteries. We wanted to wait until some inspiration came to us. We didn’t want to go in too soon and throw out some crap. We needed the time off because we’d been touring so long, and it was time for us to settle down and get our bearings back. We would have imploded if we had written a record straight out of the touring cycle. We don’t want to throw out a turd; we don’t want to suddenly put out a terrible record becase we rushed it.”
He added: “We literally sat around for a few months. And then you get bored of that, so you go write a record because you’re fucking sick of it. Sometimes, lying around on the couch gets you pumped up, because you have a moment where you realize that you can’t just do that for the rest of your life. We all hit that point, so we were and wrote a record.”
AVENGED SEVENFOLD will celebrate the album release by playing a free show at the Hollywood Palladium on August 26.