Avenged Sevenfold released big news last week, announcing their new drummer, Brooks Wackerman. Being the fourth drummer for Avenged, we look at how the band have changed and what Wackerman could bring to the table.
Words: Karolina Zilenaite, Subeditor: Alex Hurd
Last week, Avenged Sevenfold tweeted that a new drummer will be announced on 4 Nov.
On Talk Is Jericho podcast, frontman M. Shadows revealed the long awaited news — Brooks Wackerman (former drummer of Bad Religion) will be joining the A7X (abbreviation for Avenged Sevenfold) family.
Avenged Sevenfold have been on a long hiatus since their last album Hail to the King back in 2013, which showed a completely different direction from the southern Californian groove that Avenged are known for.
When drummer Jimmy Sullivan passed away (aka The Rev, The Reverend Tholomew Plague) in December 2009, the band had just started working on Nightmare (2010), which was to be the last The Rev played on.
It showcased the trademark sound of Avenged: songs filled with fast and heavy riffs, jaw-dropping guitar solos, technical double-pedal drum patterns and powerful vocals, defining not only what the band is, but also representing the music scene they grew up in.
After the passing away of their drummer, Avenged have been on a search for someone to follow in the footsteps of The Rev.
To fill in for The Rev back in 2010, the band had reached out to Mike Portnoy (now-former drummer for Dream Theater), who was one of Sullivan’s idols. Portnoy played drums on the Nightmare record, and was Avenged’s touring drummer during the Nightmare Tour (2010-2011).
But Portnoy was a temporary fill for the band, as he called himself “rebound drummer” for A7X. It was a time meant for healing for the remaining members, until they felt comfortable to find a permanent drummer.
A new addition to the A7X’s family was announced in January 2011 with a message from Avenged Sevenfold on their official page. The band had rehearsed with a new drummer, Arin Ilejay, and had been impressed with what he had to offer. The newly formed Avenged Sevenfold greeted their fans with the Nightmare After Christmas tour in the US, also marking Ilejay’s official start in the band.
Dropping Hail to the King in 2013, Avenged Sevenfold surprised everyone with their trademark sound changed to a more classic hard rock/metal style. Prior to the release of the record, M. Shadows revealed that this was the sound the band were looking for. “The new album has a lot more of a [Black] Sabbath and [Led] Zeppelin feel to it. […] I wanna write a classic metal record, a classic rock record in 2013.”
But the album got mixed reviews from both die-hard and newcomer fans. They weren’t sure if Arin was the right fit for the band. With the more classic hard rock sound and a younger drummer (Arin was only 23 years old, while the rest of the band were in their 30’s), the change brought scepticism.
In late July, Avenged Sevenfold’s four founding members reached out to the fans again, dropping the announcement that the band and Arin Ilejay had parted ways.
On the podcast, M. Shadows explained the decision. “In terms of just throwing somebody from a completely different generation than your own with completely different influences, and completely different styles of what you like to listen to… […] It just became increasingly difficult to be on the same page, not only touring but [also] record writing, and with just where we wanted take things.”
It was after the Mayhem festival last year, that the decision was made. “To fire all our cylinders the way we want to, we needed to make a change,” said M. Shadows. “I wanted to get back to that southern California punk vibe that we’ve always kind of undertone in our band.”
That’s when the vocalist decided to hit up Brooks Wackerman. The frontman confirmed, that Brooks’ name has always been in the mix, after The Rev’s passing.
As the fourth drummer for Avenged Sevenfold, will Wackerman be the right choice?
Avenged’s vocalist threw a few reasons why Brooks was a perfect match: “When Mike Portnoy came into play, he was like ‘I’ve never done this southern California punk beat you guys are making me do,’ ” he recalled.
“It’s definitely a style from here [southern California]. It’s a common thread we have with Brooks. It’s an influence that, if you’re not from here, you didn’t grow up in it, you’re not gonna have it.”
All of the Avenged Sevenfold members originated from Huntington Beach, California. Previous drummers, Portnoy and Ilejay, came from a different areas of the country, which explains why the four members of A7X weren’t comfortable enough with them.
Not only that Brooks comes from Long Beach, California (which is a 30-minute drive from Huntington), but his musical influences match with Avenged. The new member has named a spectrum of drummers he admires: Dave Grohl (ex-Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa), Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Lombardo (Slayer).
“That’s what we’ve really loved about Brooks,” M. Shadows went on. “We didn’t want someone that was purely a metal drummer. We want somebody that has all the influences, ‘cause Jimmy [Sullivan, The Rev] had all the influences.”
What also makes Wackerman a strong choice for Avenged is his range of drumming styles. Being so experienced, he has the same open-minded, “thinking outside the box” style as The Rev, when it comes to producing tracks.
Debuting in Bad4Good with Refugee album back in 1991 when he was only 14, Brooks embraced the
genre of classic heavy metal. He then briefly joined funk metal band Infectious Grooves, working on Groove Family Cyco (1994) album. Brooks’s also was a member of Suicidal Tendencies and Bad Religion, and has played with Tenacious D.
Avenged Sevenfold have been going through rough times, since 2009. Although the change of drummers might have been a blessing in disguise for the band as they could finally see what was missing so that they could come back with a bang.
With the facts laid out, and the way the band appears to be feeling, Brooks Wackerman seems like an ideal fit for Avenged Sevenfold. But let’s listen for ourselves when the new record hits the stores.
Brooks Wackerman at Guitar Centre’s Drum Off in 2011
Tenacious D “Pinball Wizard” with Brooks Wackerman at Guitar Centre’s Drum Off in 2011