M. Shadows in 2009
|Birth name||Matthew Charles Sanders|
|Also known as||M. Shadows, Shadows, Shadz|
|Born||July 31, 1981|
|Origin||Huntington Beach, California, United States|
|Genres||Hard rock, heavy metal, metalcore|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar|
|Labels||Warner Bros., Good Life Recordings, Hopeless Records|
|Associated acts||Avenged Sevenfold, Hell or Highwater|
Matthew Charles Sanders (born July 31, 1981), better known by his stage name M.Shadows, is the lead vocalist, songwriter, and founding member for the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. Shadows possesses the voice type of a lyric baritone, and is well known for his distinctively gritty singing style as well as occasional screaming.
Early life and musical beginnings
Shadows began singing at an early age, but his interest in rock music grew as he became older and began to play the guitar. He links his early musical experience with the piano as a major factor in developing his skills with the guitar and his voice. He attended Huntington Beach High School, where he played for a brief stint in a punk band named "Successful Failure". Following this, Shadows formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999 along with high school friends Zacky Vengeance, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, and Matt Wendt. Soon after, Sullivan's friend Synyster Gates joined Avenged Sevenfold as the lead guitarist.
In the DVD "All Excess,"Mr Shadows claims that everyone in the band had been assigned to come up with a list of names, but that only he had followed through. The name Avenged Sevenfold, a reference to the Book of Genesis, was chosen over Lips of Deceit, another Biblical reference.
Shadows, like the other members of Avenged Sevenfold, uses a stage name. In an interview, Shadows says that he chose "M. Shadows" as his stage name because he thought of himself as "the darker character in the group,". The M is in place of his first name, Matthew, which he did not want to be in his stage name because of the way it sounded. He also added that he and the band took stage names because many other successful musicians that they were influenced by had them (e.g. Slash of Guns N' Roses and Munky of Korn).
Shadows' vocal style has evolved significantly over the years. On the band's first full-length record, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, he featured harsh, metalcore-style growls with limited instances of clean vocals. The release of Waking the Fallen in 2003 demonstrated his progression towards melodic vocal lines, but still retained a strong screaming influence. However, the most significant change came with the release of the band's major label debut, City of Evil, in 2005, which featured minimal background screaming, stronger vocal melodies, and increased emphasis on harmonies and melodic hooks. This change resulted in newly established vocal contributions from each band member during live performances, and remained prevalent on every record the band has released since 2005, with the exception of songs like "God Hates Us" on Nightmare, and 2011 single "Not Ready To Die", which both returned to the signature screaming style of earlier releases heard from 1999-2003.
Rumors were spread that Shadows had lost his ability to scream due to throat surgery needed after Warped Tour 2003. However, this was proven false. Producer Andrew Murdock put down these rumors by saying: "When I met the band after Sounding the Seventh Trumpet… Matt handed me the CD, and he said to me, 'This record's screaming. The record we want to make… is going to be half-screaming and half-singing. I don't want to scream anymore… the record after that is going to be all singing.'" Aside from screaming during moments on songs such as "Beast and the Harlot", "Betrayed", "Critical Acclaim", and "Demons", M. Shadows returned to his half singing, half screaming metalcore vocal approach on track 7 of Nightmare during "God Hates Us", projecting a deeper growl not heard in previous albums.
Shadows draws his singing and performing style heavily from classic metal bands. He cites Guns N' Roses as his biggest influence (during an interview), commenting that "I love that band. You can compare us all you want — they're a huge reason why I'm even in a band and even write music." Shadows also commented that he was heavily influenced by Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Ozzy Osbourne, and Pantera. Megadeth and Metallica, Shadows says, are the reason why Avenged Sevenfold try to infuse a classic metal sound into their music. "Metalheads are so bitter, they're like, 'Why doesn't a super-extreme band have all the success that Avenged Sevenfold is having?'," said Shadows in an interview, "It's 'cause we have that traditional classic sound that bands like Metallica and Megadeth paved the way for a while ago. That sound crosses over and the extreme metal doesn't," he added.
Musical career Avenged Sevenfold
Shadows was one of the founding members of Avenged Sevenfold, along with The Rev and Zacky Vengeance in 1999. In 2001, the band released their first studio album, Sounding The Seventh Trumpet. The self-produced album, which was in the metalcore style, gained mixed to positive reviews from critics. Following the success of their first album, the band released a second album, Waking the Fallen, in 2003. Later in 2003, Shadows and Avenged Sevenfold played in the Vans Warped Tour.
Shadows has made guest appearances on numerous albums by various artists. He is featured on the Steel Panther album Feel the Steel and sings a verse of "Turn Out the Lights." He also produced The Confession's 2007 album, Requiem, which, according to an interview, was one of the first steps which led to Avenged Sevenfold self-producing their 2007 self-titled album. Shadows also sings In "The River" by Good Charlotte in the album "Good Morning Revival" along with fellow band member Synyster Gates with his guitar solo. In 2012 Shadows and fellow Avenged Sevenfold member Synyster Gates made a brief cameo in the war game Call of Duty: Black Ops II in which they provided the voice over of. The April, 2013 release of the band Device's self titled album featured his vocals throughout track 9, "Haze." Shadows also sang in Slash's self titled solo album.
With Avenged Sevenfold
- Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001)
- Waking the Fallen (2003)
- City of Evil (2005)
- Avenged Sevenfold (2007)
- Nightmare (2010)
- Good Morning Revival by Good Charlotte (2007; "The River" featuring Synyster Gates)
- Feel the Steel by Steel Panther (2009; "Turn Out the Lights")
- Slash by Slash (2010; "Nothing to Say")
- Lace Up by Machine Gun Kelly (2012; "Save Me" featuring Synyster Gates)
- Device by Device (2013; "Haze")
- Sin and Bones by Fozzy (2012; "Sandpaper")
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