A7X Guitarist: 'I Miss Jimmy More in the Songwriting Department Than in the Studio'

Synyster Gates discusses absence of late drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan during "Hail to the King" making process.

Ultimate Guitar

Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates opened up about the absence of late drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan from "Hail to the King" making process, noting it's the songwriting area where Sullivan is missed the most.

According to Gates, it would be disrespectful towards current drummer Arin Ilejay to overemphasize Rev's absence, mostly due to top-notch efforts Arin delivered on the album.

"I hate to say missed, I mean he's always missed," the axeman told Loaded Radio. "It would just be an insult to Arin and all that he accomplished to say there was a drum presence missed in the studio. I more missed Jimmy in the songwriting department. As incredible drummer he was, Arin absolutely nailed it. Man, if we could get a couple of Jimmy's songs on the record - that guy was just a monster."

As for the album that "speaks more with saying less" in Syn's words, "Hail to the King" dropped on August 27 via Warner Bros. and had since topped the charts in six countries around the globe. No. 1 spots also include the UK and US, where it topped the Billboard 200 list with 163,000 units shipped within the first week.

Check out the title track video below.

YouTube preview picture

68 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Completely agreeable. The new album is good, but anyone with a good ear can tell that the songwriting and the overall sound has changed, for better or for worse. Let's hope the next album packs a bigger punch
    I sorta like some of the songs from this album. Which is great considering I have a weird love-hate relationship with this band. But yeah this album is too much like metallica throughout.
    Jimmy had some great lyrics and its kinda of sad that he even wrote some guitar parts for some of their best songs too. Did M.Shadows voice get more whiny in this album? It bugs me. and dont get me started on the drums!
    I agree. But from the beginning it sounds like they wanted to go for a different vibe and do something new and just have fun. It wouldn't surprise me if the next album was more of a back to what makes Avenged..Avenged ya know? In any case, I just really hope they come back to Canada and do a full tour. I was so sad that The Rev died and the only time that I could have seen them was before I was able to really go to concerts haha.
    Irwin Navarro
    Kinda out of topic but I wonder what would have happened if Portnoy stayed in A7X full time?
    They said from the start it would not be a full time gig. Portnoy is an amazing drummer but he is like 25-30 years older than all those guys.
    Nooooo....he's roughly 15 years their senior, lol. Portnoy isn't even 50 yet. xD
    Flying Afros
    I wonder why they kicked him out.
    There were a lot of factors; They couldn't afford an established drummer like Mike at the time long-term. They urged him not to quit DT because even though he fit in with A7X, he couldn't be apart of the band as they wanted to give a newcomer a shot. Also, there was the whole DT drama and Sevenfold aren't really a 'drama and tabloids' sort of band.
    Did you even see the 72 articles UG posted about how A7X were gonna be the next Metallica? Yeah not a "drama and tabloids" kinda band. To their credit there isn't many popular bands that don't fill that category.
    How is what Ultimate-Guitar posts relevant to how Avenged presents themselves?
    they didn't kick him out, portnoy could only tour for one year with them because he had to help record a new dream theater album, little did he know dream theater would kick him out for being nice.
    holy hell. I despise A7X and that only reaffirms my dire hatred of the Guns n Roses / Metallica cover band. Rob Flynn may have been joking but he really hit the nail on the head.
    I agree that This Means War and Sad But True are very similar, but could you provide some other examples of how A7X is a GNR cover band, or even other songs of theirs that you would compare to other bands' work?
    "Doing Time", on the new album, sounds like something a more metal GNR would write.
    Also I found a lot of similarity to GnR style with "Seize the Day" off of whatever that album was called...city of evil? yeah that one.
    between that and the headline on the story of A7X "shooting back" at Robb Flynn or whatever I honestly thought it was a side by side of young Axl and Flynn and not Shadows and Flynn.
    Some kids taking shit personal are gonna get offended by this comment. Speaks the truth though.
    let me ask you this though.. Why is it okay for Kid Rock to completely copy the instrumental track of SBT but when A7x makes a similar track, everyone claims copyrights on they're asses?
    Kid Rock sampled it, he didn't hide using it and either payed for using it or is paying through royalties (or both). Avenged Sevenfold just ripped it off...
    oh sure vote me down as much you want.. you all know i'm right
    Actually, people are voting you down because they think you're wrong. Maybe if you did your research and found out that Kid Rock paid for his, then you'd realize that you sound like an idiot.
    When the Machine Head singer Rob Flynn was joking about Avenged Sevenfold making it great with Metallica covers I thought he was joking, but guess I was wrong this time.
    Its kinda hard to produce the same album as before when you are lacking one of the main guys that was writting in that department
    It is a shame to lose a fine musician, even if you don't like the band you have to admire the amount of talent The Rev had very unique drummer, excellent singer and very talented songwriter. It's a shame he only started to write largely within the band after City Of Evil (For the self titled and Nightmare)because after hearing "A Little Piece of Heaven" from the self titled it showed what he was capable of as a songwriter. But on the subject I agree it is noticeable in the change in style but I do enjoy the album, However I do agree with "This Means War" being too similar to "Sad But True" but for the rest of the songs I find to be some of their finest in my opinion but I can see why some people criticize the new direction, but I wish them the best of luck
    The Rev was very involved in the songwriting before the self-titled album. He wrote a few of the City of Evil tracks mostly by himself including Bat Country and Seize The Day.
    Matt has stated in interviews recently he was involved lightly but he wrote all his own drum parts for albums but it wasn't till the self titled he was bringing full songs to the table for the band as he supposedly said he didn't know how to write avenged songs until Matt persuaded him by saying they are avenged and can write about anything
    Not really. It wasn't until the self-titled where his writing took off. Sure he contributed to City of Evil and Waking the Fallen, because he's a member of the band, but he didn't write any songs by himself until the self-titled. They've said it many times in interviews.
    I know it doesn't seem to be a popular opinion, but I loved the new album. However, I have to disagree with Syn. I thought the songwriting was good, but the drums were definitely lacking. Arin really isn't that great IMO. There were several instances on the album I was focusing on the drums and thought to myself "Man! The Rev would have this/The Rev would have done that."
    Yeah, honestly, everyone in A7X wanted Arin to do a particular drum style that fits the approach the album is going. As such, he was advised that he would have to limit all of the crazy drum work that he might have given.
    "Arin really isn't that great." Watch him live. He throws in a lot of things The Rev wasn't even doing during his last couple tours or so. Arin absolutely nails The Rev's drumming.
    The only song where I felt the drums had any character was Doing Time. It seemed like the rest was something a drum machine could have done. I just hope they let Arin do what he wants on the next album so we can see what he's got.
    That is what stuck out about this album to me. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the album, it wasn't orchestrated as well as the last 3 albums were, and I know the Rev had a big hand in that. I really hope these guys just keep at it, they're a great bunch of guys, and some incredible musicians.
    One of the most overrated drummers ever.
    Really? Even if you hate the band, I don't see how you can deny that The Rev was an amazing drummer. The entire City of Evil album has mind boggling drumming. And before A7X haters resort to "you're just saying that because he's dead" comments, fans and casual listeners recognized him as an amazing drummer and the soul of the band before he died.
    You're just saying that cause you're a fan.
    I know plenty of people and drummers who aren't Avenged fans but still recognize The Rev as an outstanding and influential drummer... I'll never understand how some people think that you have to be a fan of something in order to admit that it's creative or talented. I probably couldn't make it through a Joe Satriani album, but he's still a much more talented guitar player than I could ever hope to be.
    exactly. I don't like Slipknot, but still think Joey Jordison (spelling?) is a fantastic drummer
    watch some youtube videos of kids playing drum covers of earlier A7X songs and tell me that shit ain't intricate. That ****er knew what he was doing and was good at it
    he had talent, youd have to be ignorant to be denying that. he wasnt one of the greatest ever ill say that much, but overrated isnt a word i would use to describe him. but keeping with the article's direction since he died in 2009 Avenged's sound has dramatically changed so i have to believe that his songwriting skills were a big part of this band.
    Hey with the new album, people don't have to complain, "Avenged Sevenfold is going to suck without the Rev writing songs!"
    no from what i heard thats what i think. its not like they arent capable of writing songs themselves but its like the revs songs provided a nice ocntrast that also mightve served to give them better direction as a whole also
    Yeah Syn, after hearing the new album we definitely miss Jimmy A LOT too. The album is flat.
    I saw Avenged 2 nights ago, September 14th. They f**kin rocked!!! Matt and Synyster performed Fiction together and there was a bit of a sad/reminiscing feeling inside of me, even though some people may not see me as a "true" fan. It really showed how close they were to Jimmy. He was honestly an awesome drummer, based on footage I've seen and from other people who have been fans of A7X longer than I have. Sad that I only started listening to them after Nightmare released, after Jimmy passed, but I'm glad I did. It's a shame some people have no respect for a talented musician in the world of rock who passed so suddenly. We all miss you James! Rest in peace buddy.
    Better late than never! I was lucky enough to catch them with Jimmy around 10 times or so. Even saw him outside one of the venues once loading his drum set up. He definitely brought a great energy to the stage; something they've been missing ever since he passed. It seems like too many people weirdly hold that against them... that they're not the same on stage without The Rev. Obviously they wouldn't be.
    They have a great guitar tone on this album, but drums are a different story.
    Me too. That kid got all of his beats from the Black album...I think Jimmy's a better, more emotional singer than Matt too. If Jimmy woulda took care of clean vox, and Matt went back to singing... they would have rocked so ****ing much..