It’s been a long time since Jimmy “The Rev” has passed, more than a decade now. He died just in the middle of recording A7X fifth album, Nightmare. Jimmy contributed to a lot of Avenged songs in the predecessor of Nightmare, the self-titled white album.
The eponymous album came out when the success of the band from California was going up. The mainstream that they have achieved with City Of Evil was tremendous. If you aired MTV in the mid-2005 you would likely have seen Bat Country. Yep, when MTV was awesome.
People don’t notice this but it was with the white album when The Rev contributed the most. He wrote Afterlife, Almost Easy and A Little Piece Of Heaven almost all by himself. These three songs represent one of the most popular ones of A7X, and they are constantly played in almost all their gigs.
Before the self-titled, Jimmy’s writing contributions were limited. But noticing his talent to do so, he gave his inputs for the upcoming album, Nightmare. He wrote Natural Born Killer and Fiction all by himself and co-wrote Welcome to the Family, Danger Line, Tonight the World Dies and Save Me. On the final mix, you won’t hear Jimmy on the drums though, he passed just before recording sessions. You can only hear briefly his vocals on Fiction.
Given the fact that Avenged most critical acclaimed albums were written in most part by The Rev. People were questioning if the band could pull off what they have been doing.
Hail To The King is the successor of Nightmare. The band said before recording this album that they wanted to pay homage to the bands that influenced them. You can hear Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC/DC on it. Some parts are so similar that people criticized A7X for plagiarism. I don¡t acknowledge such a thing, but I get it. Even though Hail To The King successfully topped at the first position at the Billboard chart, people still thought that the creative side of Avenged was gone.
The latest album of them, The Stage came with a lot of surprises, one of them was the news that their songwriting is far from being gone. The level of complexity that has each and one of the songs of this album reminds me of a more mature City Of Evil. I’ve made a review of that album (click here to check it out).
When The Rev left us he took with him his craziness, creativity, awesome drum skils (like the double bell technique), his passion and an uncountable amount of positive things. I do not think that Avenged would be the same band with him today, I don’t know if they would have been better or worse. This is a thing that nobody knows.
We forget that bands are made by people, and people are humans, not machines, they have their ups and downs. I think this is what happened with Hail To The King. It was the best record that they could release in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, I like that album, I have listened to it a countless amount of times. I just think that if you what to introduce Avenged to someone, that is not the first album to show. It’s a good album, but not at the level of the good of City Of Evil, Nightmare nor The Stage.
In conclusion, I think, I know that Avenged has enough bullets to shoot us killing upcoming material. People were kinda skeptical also with the inactivity of the band due to M Shadows losing his voice and canceling their tour in 2018. But after hearing him with These Grey Men covering Radiohead’s Street Spirit… Avenged fans can be calmed.