Matt Shadows, popularly known by his stage name M. Shadows, is an American singer, musician, and songwriter. He is the lead vocalist of the band Avenged Sevenfold, which he had formed along with his middle school friends. The American heavy metal band tries to infuse classic metal sound into their music, as the members admire the traditional classic sound that bands like Metallica and Megadeth had introduced. Voted third in the list of Top 25 Greatest Modern Frontmen by Ultimate Guitar, Matt’s singing and performing style is heavily drawn from classic metal bands. Guns N' Roses has been his all time favorite. He readily admits that Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, and some others have influenced his style. Till date, Avenged Sevenfold has released seven studio albums, 24 singles, two compilation albums, and one live album. They have sold over 8 million albums worldwide. The band was ranked No. 47 on Loudwire's list of Top 50 Metal Bands of All Time.
Childhood & Early Life
M. Shadows was born as Matthew Charles Sanders on July 31, 1981, in Huntington Beach in California, to Kim Sanders and Gary Sanders. He has a younger sister Amy.
He began singing at a young age, and started off by playing the piano. However, his interest in metal and rock music developed with age after he began playing the guitar.
He studied in Huntington Beach High School, but was expelled from school several times due to his involvement in cases of violence. In high school, he was a member of a punk band called ‘Successful Failure’ for a while.
As a teenager, he started listening to punk rock bands like Misfits and H2O, and when his father got him the album ‘Appetite For Destruction’ by Guns N ‘Roses, that’s when he entered the metal scene.
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In 1999, M. Shadows formed ‘Avenged Sevenfold’, a heavy metal band, whose current lineup comprises Shadows as the lead vocalist, Zacky Vengeance as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist, Synyster Gates as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Johnny Christ, the bassist and backing vocalist, and drummer Brooks Wackerman. The band explored new sounds with its releases and enjoyed continued success in the entertainment industry.
Before the release of their debut album, the band recorded two demos in 1999 and 2000. The band’s debut album, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, was recorded when Shadows and the other members were still in high school. It was released on June 10, 2001.In the first week it sold just 300 copies, but as of November 2010, the album had sold 370,000 copies worldwide, with 310,000 in the US.
When Shadows was in the ‘Successful Failure’ band, he had written the song ‘Streets’, which was later used in ‘Avenged Sevenfold’s’ second studio album, ‘Waking The Fallen’, which was released on August 26, 2003. Six years later, on July 15, 2009, the album was certified gold, and as of August 2014, it had sold over 693,000 copies in the US.
Their third album and first major label release was ‘City of Evil’, which was launched on June 7, 2005. The album contains a traditional heavy metal and hard rock sound, different from the band’s previous two albums. The album also did not have screaming vocals, and Shadows had worked for months with vocal coach Ron Anderson before the release of the album.
M. Shadows was featured on the Steel Panther album ‘Feel the Steel’, and also produced The Confession's album, ‘Requiem’ in 2007. Shadows lent vocals to the song ‘The River’ by Good Charlotte along with band member Synyster Gates. Shadows and Synyster Gates also made a brief cameo in the video game ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’.
Despite the death of drummer James ‘The Rev’ Sullivan in 2009, the band continued with the new drummer Mike Portnoy and released their fifth album ‘Nightmare’ on July 27, 2010, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Shadows has also made several guest appearances on albums by other artists like ‘Slash’.
The band’s sixth studio album ‘Hail to the King’ was released on August 23, 2013. The album charted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and also on UK, Brazilian, Finnish, Canadian, and Irish charts.
Avenged Sevenfold’s seventh studio album ‘The Stage’ was released on October 28, 2016, which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard 200 chart. This album marked a stylistic change in the band’s music, which moved towards more progressive metal sound.
Matt’s band’s debut album ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, is one of their major works despite the fact that it was recorded when the members were just teenagers. Worldwide it sold 370,000 copies.
Another successful album by Avenged Sevenfold was ‘City of Evil’, which ranked No. 63 on ‘100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time’. It also appeared in Kerrang's ‘666 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’ and ‘50 Albums You Need To Hear Before You Die’. It was ranked No. 35 in ‘50 Greatest Metal Albums Ever’ in 2016.
The band’s sixth studio album ‘Hail to the King’ also marked one of his most soulful performances. The album was a critical and commercial success—it was No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and also topped the UK, Brazilian, Finnish, Canadian, and Irish charts. The album spawned two No.1 singles—‘Hail to the King’, and ‘Shepherd of Fire’ on Billboard's Mainstream Rock. On July 16, 2014 the album was certified Gold by RIAA, as it had sold over 500,000 copies.
Awards & Achievements
In 2006, Avenged Sevenfold won MTV Music Award for Best New Artist, and Golden God Award for Best International Band. In 2008, the band’s self-titled album bagged Kerrang! Awards: Album of the Year.
In 2011, M. Shadows won the Golden God Award for Best Vocalist for his vocals on ‘Nightmare’ album; the album won the Golden God Awards: Album of the Year. The same year, the band earned the Loudwire Music Awards: Live Act of the Year.
In 2013, the band won Loudwire Music Awards: Rock Band of the Year.
In 2017, Matt was voted third in the list of ‘Top 25 Greatest Modern Frontmen by Ultimate Guitar’.
On October 17, 2009, M. Shadows married his longtime girlfriend Valary DiBendetto who is a model and actress. They have been together since the 6th grade. The couple has two sons, River Sanders, who was born on July 4, 2012, and Cash Sanders, born on August 15, 2014.
It was rumored that Matt had lost his ability to scream because he had a throat surgery in 2003. However, he said that these rumors are not true.