Avenged Sevenfold drummer the Rev was found dead at his home in Huntington Beach, California on Monday (December 28). He was 28 years old.
The Rev — born James Sullivan — helped found Avenged Sevenfold back in 1999. The band's brutal combination of high-speed punk and theatrical metal immediately grabbed the attention of the rock community, and their debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet picked up a cult following. Their second album, 2003's Waking the Fallen, earned them even more acclaim as well as a major-label deal. City of Evil, their third full-length and their debut for Warner Bros., elevated them from metalhead favorites to crossover superstars, mostly on the back of the killer single "Bat Country." The song (along with the fantastically over-the-top video) got plenty of heavy rotation and earned the band the prize for Best New Artist at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards (amazingly beating out Rihanna, Panic at the Disco, Angels & Airwaves, James Blunt and Chris Brown). Their latest album, a self-titled effort in 2007, also scored big with the singles "Almost Easy" and "Scream."
Avenged Sevenfold were notorious for their rock and roll lifestyle (they even cheekily titled a DVD about their career "All Excess") and the Rev in particular was very forthright about his appetite for drugs (though in recent years they've toned down that aspect of the band's personality). Though their sound has shifted and evolved since they began 10 years ago, the group has always relied on the fleet rhythmic pulse of the Rev's playing (as well as his scream-friendly backing vocals), which means the fabric of Avenged Sevenfold (A7X to their fans) will be changed forever. Plus, the Rev provided the group with a tongue-in-cheek sensibility. He wrote and took lead vocals on "A Little Piece of Heaven" (from the band's self-titled album), a cheeky goth epic about mass murder that became a fan favorite (especially after the release of the accompanying animated video, which was created by the Rev and frontman M. Shadows).
As the various clips of their host spots on MTV2 prove, the Rev often acted as the voice of the band during interviews and provided deadpan insight into the band's inner workings. He was a key piece of the A7X puzzle and will be sorely missed. In his honor, enjoy the live performance of "Unholy Confessions," from their live DVD Live In The LBC & Diamonds In The Rough. A7X built their reputation by being a staggeringly great live act, and the Rev is particularly on here.