Matthew Charles Sanders (born July 31, 1981 in Huntington Beach), better known by his stage name M. Shadows, is an American musician, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter and founding member of the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold.
M.Shadows began singing at an early age, but his interest in rock and metal music grew as he became older and began to play the guitar. He links his early musical experience with the piano as a major factor in developing his skills with the guitar and his voice. He attended Robert J. Frank, where he played for a brief stint in a punk band named "Successful Failure". Following this, Shadows formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999 along with middle school friends Zacky Vengeance, The Rev and Matt Wendt.
Shadows, like the other members of Avenged Sevenfold, uses a stage name. In an interview, Shadows says that he chose "M. Shadows" as his stage name because he thought of himself as "the darker character in the group,". The M is in place of his first name, Matthew, which he did not want to be in his stage name because of the way it sounded. He also added that he and the band took stage names because many other successful musicians that they were influenced by had them (e.g. Slash of Guns N' Roses, Munky of Korn and the members of Slipknot).
Although Shadows possesses a baritone voice, he has been able to perfect his technique to a degree that allows him to sing convincingly and comfortably in the tenor range often called for by his genre of choice. Shadows' vocal style has evolved significantly over the years. On the band's first full-length record, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, he featured harsh, metalcore-style growls with limited instances of clean vocals. The release of Waking the Fallen in 2003 demonstrated his progression towards melodic vocal lines, but still retained a strong screaming influence. However, the most significant change came with the release of the band's major label debut, City of Evil, in 2005, which featured minimal background screaming, stronger vocal melodies, and increased emphasis on harmonies and melodic hooks. This change resulted in newly established vocal contributions from each band member during live performances, and remained prevalent on every record the band has released since 2005, with the exception of songs like "God Hates Us" on Nightmare, and 2011 single "Not Ready To Die", which both returned to the signature screaming style of earlier releases heard from 1999-2003.
Rumors were spread that Shadows had lost his ability to scream due to throat surgery needed after Warped Tour 2003. However, this was proven false.
Producer Andrew Murdock put down these rumors by saying: "When I met the band after Sounding the Seventh Trumpet... Matt handed me the CD, and he said to me, 'This record's screaming. The record we want to make is going to be half-screaming and half-singing. I don't want to scream anymore... the record after that is going to be all singing.'" Aside from screaming during moments on songs such as "Beast and the Harlot", "Betrayed", "Critical Acclaim", "Demons", and "Doing Time", M. Shadows returned to his half singing, half screaming metalcore vocal approach on track 7 of Nightmare during "God Hates Us", projecting a deeper growl not heard in previous albums.
Shadows draws his singing and performing style heavily from classic metal bands. He cites Guns N' Roses as his biggest influence (during an interview), commenting that "I love that band. You can compare us all you want -- they're a huge reason why I'm even in a band and even write music." Shadows also commented that he was heavily influenced by Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Guitarist Scott Taylor, and Pantera. Megadeth, Shadows says, are the reason why Avenged Sevenfold try to infuse a classic metal sound into their music. "Metalheads are so bitter, they're like, 'Why doesn't a super-extreme band have all the success that Avenged Sevenfold is having?'," said Shadows in an interview, "It's 'cause we have that traditional classic sound that bands like Metallica and Megadeth paved the way for a while ago. That sound crosses over and the extreme metals doesn't," he added.
Shadows has made guest appearances on numerous albums by various artists. He is featured on the Steel Panther album Feel the Steel and sings a verse of "Turn Out the Lights." He also produced The Confession's 2007 album, Requiem, which, according to an interview, M. Shadows was one of the first steps which led to Avenged Sevenfold self-producing their 2007 self-titled album. Shadows also sings In "The River" by Good Charlotte in the album "Good Morning Revival" along with fellow band member Synyster Gates with his guitar solo. In 2012 Shadows and fellow Avenged Sevenfold member Synyster Gates made a brief cameo in the war game Call of Duty: Black Ops II in which they provided the voice over of. Also, in June 2013, Matt competed in the sold out 128-team Call of Duty bracket at MLG Anaheim, placing in the Top 48. The April, 2013 release of the band Device's self-titled album featured his vocals throughout track 9, "Haze". Shadows also sang "Nothing To Say" in Slash's self-titled solo album, as well as "Go Alone" in Hell or Highwater's debut album.
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