Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s Bram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
Hits Daily Double is reporting based on one day sales that Avenged Sevenfold’s new album Nightmare is estimated to sell between 160,000 to 175,000 in its first week and is a strong contender to beat out Eminem to claim the top of the charts. But we’re not debating the band’s deserving success in the first edition of our new column Headbangers’ Brawl. Rather, Bram and I will be going head to head to discuss what we think are the main reasons for Avenged Sevenfold’s extraordinary sales.
Zach: Avenged Sevenfold are one of my favorite bands of all time, and would like to think that it’s the music that drew out the fans. However, I can’t help to think that the untimely death of drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan had a hand in the album doing so well. While the single “Nightmare” has been well received, it didn’t actually premiere online until May 18 (and the video for said song didn’t make its debut until two weeks ago). The band has only done two concerts so far, and both of them were within this past week (the only major touring they have planned is this year’s Uproar Festival). With such little promotion done so far, I have to believe that their recent tragedy has made either their loyal fans make an extra effort to purchase the album or has attracted new fans.
Bram: Yeah, that’s probably got something to do with it. It’s the same reason a lot of people went to see The Crow, and the reason Biggie Smalls did so well with Life After Death being released two weeks after he died (wow, child of the ’90s much?). But I think their current fill-in drummer might have had something to do with it too. Dream Theater fans are pretty much geeks, and I mean that in a good way. If they’re not hanging out at a Guitar Center doing sweep pentatonics and paradiddles, they’re out supporting their favorite musicians’ endeavors. The last Dream Theater album sold 40,000 its first week. I’ve got to imagine some of the 160,000 that buy the album next week will be Mike Portnoy fans that never would have thought about buying an Avenged Sevenfold record `til now. You’ve heard the album, do you think the musical growth (or lack thereof) is pushing new people to buy the album?
Zach: I have heard the album, and will openly say that I love it. I’d also say that it’s a major step forward from their 2007 self-titled release (though City Of Evil remains as one of my all time favorite albums). However, I admit that Nightmare probably won’t convert listeners who never cared for the band. Hence why I feel that though Mike Portnoy may have attracted a few prog-nerds who were jamming to Rush’s “YYZ” in their basement before going out to buy the album, I can’t imagine it made too much of a difference. Avenged Sevenfold is a band many either love or hate. As much as I (a lover) was impressed with Nightmare, I ‘m not sure it’s an album that will win over haters. Avenged Sevenfold’s loyal fans are just that: loyal. Many hardcore fans felt extreme pain from The Rev’s passing. The album probably would have been a success either way, but the heart ache fans have been feeling has made them even more supportive of the band.
Bram: Well either way, this is a win for Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Metal, and pretty much everyone but Eminem. No one’s going to mistake me for the world’s biggest A7X fan, but Waking The Fallen was an amazing album. Since then, I feel like they’ve just kind of coasted, but they’ve gotten even more popular. And make no mistake, they’re a metal band. The dual guitar harmonies, musicality, and overall vibe of the band is way beyond the generic goat-rock that most active rock radio plays. And for any band to sell more than their previous album in this day and age, it’s a minor miracle. The last Avenged album didn’t even top 95,000, so if it sells what Hits thinks it might, everyone wins.