M. Shadows

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M. Shadows
Avenged Sevenfold (32509055635).jpg
Shadows performing with Avenged Sevenfold in 2017
Matthew Charles Sanders

(1981-07-31) July 31, 1981 (age 41)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Valary DiBenedetto
(m. 2009)
Musical career
  • Vocals
Years active1999–present
Member ofAvenged Sevenfold
Formerly ofSuccessful Failure

Matthew Charles Sanders (born July 31, 1981), known by his stage name M. Shadows, is an American singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and a founding member of heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. In 2017, Shadows was voted third in the list of Top 25 Greatest Modern Frontmen by Ultimate Guitar.[1]

Early life[edit]

M. Shadows was born on July 31, 1981 in Fountain Valley, California and raised in Huntington Beach, California.[2] His interest in rock was from listening to bands like Guns N' Roses earlier in life after his father gave him his first cassette, and his interest in heavy metal 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 middle school friends Zacky Vengeance, The Rev, and Matt Wendt.

Stage name[edit]

Shadows, like the other members of Avenged Sevenfold, uses a stage name. In an interview, Shadows says that he chose 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, Munky of Korn and the members of Slipknot). Shadows also mentioned in another interview their reasoning behind choosing stage names also came from their intention to "piss people off".[3]

Vocal style[edit]

Shadows performing at the Nova Rock Festival in June 2014

Shadows possesses a baritone voice, which shows in his vocal weight, able to sing comfortably in the tenor range, carrying his baritone timbre up to high C on a regular basis, but also when he sings low with a resonant sound. His vocal range spans nearly four octaves, whilst the beginning at the lowest note is D2,[4] and reaching up to A5[4] - Shadows' highest recorded note to date. His 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. Shadows turned to Ron Anderson, a vocal coach that had previously worked with Axl Rose and Chris Cornell.[5]

Shadows was specifically looking to add a more gritty, raspy tone to his voice and worked with Anderson for several months on this before City of Evil was recorded.[5] 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.

Rumors were spread that Shadows had lost his ability to scream due to throat surgery needed after Warped Tour 2003. However, 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.'"

During an interview with Stevie Rennie on October 28, 2014, Shadows mentioned that he on purpose had changed his voice to become less raspy and distorted while touring in 2014. The change was due to longer live shows lasting from one and a half to two hours in support of Hail to the King. Shadows went on to say that "you better be taking care of yourself or you're gonna be cancelling shows" and "I wanted to hit notes over the rasps".[6]

Other projects[edit]

Shadows in August 2007

Shadows has made guest appearances on numerous albums by various artists. He is featured on Steel Panther's 2009 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, M. Shadows was one of the first steps which led to Avenged Sevenfold self-producing their 2007 self-titled album. He also sings in "The River" by Good Charlotte on the album Good Morning Revival along with fellow band member Synyster Gates with his guitar solo. The April 2013 release of Device's self-titled album featured Shadows vocals throughout track 9, "Haze". He also sang "Nothing to Say" in Slash's self-titled solo album, as well as "Go Alone" in Hell or Highwater's debut album. He was also featured on Fozzy's album Sin and Bones singing alongside Chris Jericho in the song "Sandpaper".

Shadows has also been longtime friends with David Vonderhaar of Treyarch, the developers of the Call of Duty: Black Ops video game series, for which Avenged Sevenfold have created four original songs. In 2012, Shadows and Synyster Gates made a brief cameo in Call of Duty: Black Ops II in which they provided the voice over and motion capture of themselves. Also, in June 2013, Shadows competed in the sold out 128-team Call of Duty bracket at MLG Anaheim, placing in the Top 48. In July 2019, Shadows was added as a playable character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's "Blackout" battle royale mode.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Shadows is of Irish and Italian descent and was raised Roman Catholic. His sister is former WNBA player Amy Sanders, who is two years younger than he is.[8] Shadows married Valary DiBenedetto on October 17, 2009. The couple have two sons, River who was born in 2012 and Cash, born in 2014. Shadows' bandmate Synyster Gates is married to DiBenedetto's twin sister Michelle DiBenedetto, which makes them brothers-in-law.[9]

In June 2020, during the George Floyd protests, Shadows published an op-ed piece for Revolver announcing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. In it, he urged both the rock and metal communities to "reach out and show the compassion that I know is in us all to help raise up our fellow humans". He was especially motivated to write the piece due to the lack of African Americans in the Avenged Sevenfold fanbase.[10]


With Avenged Sevenfold[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "Friday Top: 25 Greatest Modern Frontmen". ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Loudwire (July 11, 2018), Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows - Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved July 11, 2018
  3. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold: Why We All Decided to Have Stage Names".
  4. ^ a b "M. Shadows: Vocal profile - Higher notes - Lower notes". The Range Planet. November 28, 2020. Archived from the original on September 30, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Avenged Sevenfold Feature Interview". Blistering. 2006. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Steve Rennie (October 28, 2014). "M Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold Singer - Renman LIVE #098". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved March 28, 2018 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "M. Shadows Announced As Playable Character In Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Operation Apocalypse Z. - Avenged Sevenfold". avengedsevenfold.com.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 25, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "PressReader.com - Digital Newspaper & Magazine Subscriptions". www.pressreader.com.
  10. ^ Sanders, Matthew (June 3, 2020). "Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows: Why I stand with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement". Revolver. Retrieved September 17, 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to M. Shadows at Wikimedia Commons