Matthew Charles Sanders (born July 31, 1981), better known by his stage name M. Shadows, is the lead vocalist, songwriter, and founding member for the American metal band Avenged Sevenfold. He has a baritone vocal range.





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M. Shadows

Birth name

Matthew Charles Sanders

Also known as

M. Shadows


July 31, 1981 (age 30)


Huntington Beach, California


Heavy metal, hard rock, hardcore punk, metalcore




Vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar

Years active



Warner Bros., Good Life Recordings, Hopeless Records

Associated acts

Avenged Sevenfold, Good Charlotte, Steel Panther, Cowboy Troy, Death by Stereo, Bleeding Through, Dream Theater, Slash

Early life and musical beginningsEdit

Shadows was born as Matthew Charles Sanders on July 31, 1981, in Huntington Beach, California. He began playing the piano at an early age, but his interest in rock music grew as he became older and began to play the guitar. Shadows links this early musical experience with the piano as a major factor in developing his skills with the guitar and his voice. He attended Huntington Beach High School, where he played for a brief stint in a punk band named "Successful Failure". Following this, Shadows formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999 along with high school friends Zacky Vengeance, Jimmy "The Rev " Sullivan, and Matt Wendt. Soon after, Sullivan's friend Synyster Gates joined Avenged Sevenfold as the guitarist.

In the DVD "All Excess," Shadows claims that everyone in the band had been assigned to come up with a list of names, but that only he had followed through. The name Avenged Sevenfold, a reference to the Book of Genesis, was chosen over Lips of Deceit, another Biblical reference.

Stage nameEdit

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 and The Edge of U2).

Vocal StyleEdit

Shadows' vocal style has evolved significantly over the years. On the bands first full-length record, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, he features a harsh, metalcore-style scream, with limited instances of clean vocals. The release of Waking the Fallen in 2003 showed a progression towards more melodic vocal lines, but still showing a strong metalcore influence. The most important change, however, came with the release of the bands major label debut, City of Evil, in 2005. The album featured minimal screaming and much more defined vocal melody, with an increased emphasis on vocal hooks. This style has remained prevalent on every record the band has released since that time. Rumors began to spread that Shadows had lost his ability to scream due to throat surgery he had needed after Warped Tour 2003. Producer Andrew Mudrock 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 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.'"


Shadows draws his singing and performing style heavily from classic metal bands. He cited Guns N' Roses as his biggest influence in 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, and Pantera. Megadeth and Metallica, 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 metal doesn't," he added. He also stated later in that interview that guitar expert Scott Taylor taught him how to play guitar.

Musical careerEdit

Avenged SevenfoldEdit

See also: Avenged Sevenfold

Shadows was one of the founding members of Avenged Sevenfold, along with The Rev and Zacky Vengeance in 1999. In 2001, the band released their first studio album, Sounding The Seventh Trumpet. The self-produced album, which was in the metalcore style, gained mixed to positive reviews from critics. Following the success of their first album, the band released a second album, Waking the Fallen, in 2003. Later in 2003, Shadows and Avenged Sevenfold played in the Vans Warped Tour.

Other projectsEdit

Shadows has made guest appearances on numerous albums by various artists. He also produced The Confession's 2007 album, Requiem, which, according to an interview, was one of the first steps which led to Avenged Sevenfold self-producing their 2007 self-titled album. Shadows has also made several guest appearances at High Schools, per request, such as Thomas Jeffereson High in Virginia, UCLA in California, New Utrecht High school in New York and many others.


With Avenged SevenfoldEdit

Year Album
2001 Sounding the Seventh Trumpet
2003 Waking the Fallen
2005 City of Evil
2007 Avenged Sevenfold
2008 Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough
2010 Nightmare

Featured guest appearancesEdit

Year Song Artist(s) Album
2002 "Savior, Saint, Salvation" (with Synyster Gates) Bleeding Through Portrait of the Goddess
2007 "The River" (with Synyster Gates) Good Charlotte Good Morning Revival
"The End Is Near" The Confession Requiem
"Buffalo Stampede" Cowboy Troy Black in the Saddle
"Like Always" Kisses for Kings Demo
2009 "Turn Out the Lights" Steel Panther Feel the Steel
2010 "Nothing to Say" Slash Slash
"Check the Level (Remix)" (with Slash) The Dirty Heads Any Port in a Storm (Special Edition)
2011 "Go Alone" Hell or Highwater Begin Again