Sounding the Seventh Trumpet

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John Wilson
The making of Avenged Sevenfold’s self titled album was criticized by many musicians, and other because Avenged Sevenfold went from garage-quality recording two albums entitled Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, and Waking the Fallen both recorded with Hopeless Records, a nonprofit organization of independent record labels that has launched the careers of Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, and Melee. (Hopeless Records) With a nonprofit independent record label the quality of the music is obviously going to suffer, which is the reasoning behind critics stating that when Avenged Sevenfold signed with Warner Bros. record label that they weren’t quite experienced enough to record with such high quality equipment. City of Evil was when M. Shadows drastically changed his vocal styles to better accompany the guitars and percussion. M. Shadows achieved these by hiring a vocal coach who had trained Axel Rose(Aerosmith) and Chris Cornell(Soundgarden, Audioslave).( Avenged Sevenfold’s self titled album, despite its couple of good songs seemed to flop on the Billboards. M. Shadows when writing centered his lyrics more on what he believed, such as pro-military and when the Iraqi war not quite yet out of the media’s eye made the singers beliefs effect record sales. However I believe that because M. Shadows made an album with his own, and his band mates beliefs that they are still considered amazing musicians because essentially that what art is. Doing what the person feels is right, and not looking back.
Afterlife was recorded not only by Avenged Sevenfold but by an elite group of sting orchestra musicians. The orchestra helped make the intro, the outro, and the bridge. James Sullivan wrote the song’s lyrics, percussion parts, orchestral parts, main guitar riffs, main bass riffs, and helped Synyster Gates in the production of the guitar solo. The song is about a man who has died too early and finds himself in heaven, who is represented by M. Shadows in the music video, and upon entering, he realizes that he has left too many things on earth to do. To go back and make it right, he has to escape his Afterlife. As irony would have it, this was the last song Jimmy Sullivan wrote before he passed away at the early age of 28. (Wikipedia) What makes this song amazing is how the Hard Rock elements blends so well with the Pop undertone and classical orchestra music to create six minutes that brings together a great mix of staccatos, harmony, dynamics, a solo that includes a self-written scale of major to minor notes, a break during the pre-solo which involves one of the most intricate drum patterns ever seen, a collision of bass, guitar, eerie vocals, and orchestral strings.
The reason why the song Afterlife means so much to me is because during any mood, situation, or times when life is looking down, the lyrics alone can place anyone into a much happier mood. This works in every sad aspect of life. For example, I was traumatized when Jimmy Sullivan died. He was an amazing source of inspiration and hope to me. Then I looked at the song he wrote, Afterlife, and remembered short period of time I got to speak with him when I went to see Avenged Sevenfold and much charisma, life, and happiness he had within him. It almost reflected off of him and just made people around him happy. Jimmy also said on more then one occasion that he wasn’t going to live past 30. He was unfortunately right, but looking back at it all, I realized that he isn’t the person who feels he had actions left on Earth that he needed to fulfill. You hear the phrase “live everyday as if it was your last,” Jimmy actually did this, he didn’t go overboard by taking insane amounts of hard drugs like other rock stars like him did, he just lived life.(Making of Afterlife)
The song Afterlife is about a young man who passed away before he was able to complete what he felt wasn’t accomplished in his life as his lost soul struggles for a second chance because he feels that his life was wasted and that he didn’t quite live it properly. To get his second chance and have another shot at life and to fulfill what he thinks he left behind, give the people close to him the closure they need, and to apologize to the people has hurt in his life he has to first escape his Afterlife. The song also holds irony because this was the last song Jimmy Sullivan wrote before he passed away at 28. (Radiant Eclipse)
Jimmy Sullivan uses a lot of poetic elements that make the listener feel torn about the Afterlife with lyrics such as “In place of hope and no pain, perfect skies with no rain. Can leave this place but refrain, 'cause we've been waiting for you.” It causes inquiry about why a person would want to leave “heaven.” He uses the simile “like walking into a dream” to set the background of what the Afterlife is like, even though technically, you can not walk into a dream. James also uses “Oh Lord I'll try so hard but you gotta let go of me. (Unchain me, Unbreak me, I need another chance to live.) to give the illusion of the person in the Afterlife being trapped. Sullivan also causes contrasting thoughts in the song with the lyric “Choking on this ecstasy.” Which shows that the person trapped in the Afterlife realizes its a nice place, but would rather have a second chance to be on Earth.

The talent it took to write Afterlife is astounding. From the touching vocals to the intense drum beats. The vocal part is amazing because of M. Shadows signature eerie voice and the talent to hit high notes while still creating that dark undertone you still expect from a metal band. Synyster Gates’ guitar work never ceases to amaze me, or any other musician I have ever talked to. He uses a combination of chromatic notes played at such intense speeds. The amazing guitar solo would blow any musician away. He flawlessly plays a over 300 note solo in less than 30 seconds, which doesn’t sound like much, but the start of the solo is a lebrato notes, or notes that the artist lets ring out. Then midway into the solo, Synyster Gates doubles the tempo and increases the speed of the notes played.

The reason why Afterlife is such an important song to me because if was one of the last songs that Jimmy Sullivan wrote and played before he passed away. Jimmy Sullivan’s death did not only effect just me, but millions of drummers and musicians world wide. Many bands even before Avenged Sevenfold's time are hurt by his death. The drummer from Dream Theatre, a band that James Sullivan often looked up to, agreed to write the drum tracks in honor of Jimmy Sullivan because he was such a fan of not only Avenged Sevenfold's work, but Jimmy's work and talent as well. (Metal Underground)

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