The Band Who Reintroduced Heavy Metal To MTV’s ‘Total Request Live’

Giada Conti from Pisa, italy, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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For a certain generation, MTV’s Total Request Live was a staple of their pop-culture diet. While its heyday in the late 1990s will be remembered for saccharine hits from the likes of Brittany Spears and assorted boy bands of the moment, the show did have its heavier moments.

After all, TRL was like a second home for Limp Bizkit frontman and regular guest host, Fred Durst.

Nü-metal and pop-punk might have found a regular audience on the MTV airwaves in 2006, but it had been years since Metallica and Megadeth’s biggest songs were part of the network’s regular rotation.

Even though traditional heavy metal hadn’t been the flavor of the week for awhile, Avenged Sevenfold were willing to stare the teeny-bopper beast in the face when they took the stage at TRL’s New York City headquarters.

Avenged Sevenfold’s meteoric ascent from metalcore mosh freaks to heavy metal royalty all started with the release of their third studio album, City Of Evil, in 2005. While the stylistic change of direction alienated some fans of their earlier work, the band’s new sound impressed some very influential figures within the upper echelons of rock music, namely Good Charlotte.

In an interview with the Tuna On Toast podcast, frontman M. Shadows said: “Benji and Joel [Good Charlotte] were like, ‘We’re gonna take them on TRL with us and play ‘Bat Country’ on TRL!’ Because they liked us and we liked them; we were friends. I think we were one of those bands that came off like… If people were gonna talk bad about Good Charlotte it would be someone like us and we weren’t those guys. We were like, cool with them; we loved Good Charlotte, we were friends with them.

“I think they felt like a lot of the animosity from the Warped Tour, that kind of group. Like, these guys were superstars on MTV etc. and I think part of that was a reason they said ‘well, we get to bring on an artist that we want and they brought on Avenged Sevenfold.”

He continued, “They played our video [for “Bat Country”] and it never left TRL after that. And it went all the way to No. 1. And then we ended up winning video music of the year (Best New Artist). 

“It really was because Benji and Joel saw something, Good Charlotte saw something that no one else saw, and they took us on there and it had a mainstream audience. The video was killer, the song worked, and then all of a sudden everything just started going. It was like, here we go.”

While they were grateful for the support of TRL and the wider MTV audience, Avenged Sevenfold were apprehensive about accepting the invitation. In an interview accompanying their performance, Shadows said: “It wasn’t just, oh, you guys are playing TRL. They asked us and we dogged on it for a while, because for a metal band it’s a dangerous thing sometimes.”

Rather than play up the safer, pop image, Avenged Sevenfold made sure to cap off their performance with the certified heavy metal rager “Beast And The Harlot.”

Released as the follow-up single to the more radio-friendly “Bat Country,” Shadows said to MTV of the track: “With ‘Beast and the Harlot,’ we wanted kids to know that this record isn’t driven towards ‘TRL.’ It’s a rock record.

This is what Avenged Sevenfold is about. It’s not a radio-driven band. This next single’s more for the fans, more for the kids that get the record, and get the whole record — not just the poppy chorus and the Hunter S. Thompson thing, and that’s all we care about this band for. The quicker you can get rid of those people, the better. I think going with ‘Beast’ was more of us trying to solidify our career and not throw it down the drain by being in a bunch of teeny magazines. We don’t belong there. That kind of scared us a bit, and I think it’s smart to push back and deliver a real rock single next.”

Check out Avenged Sevenfold’s legendary Total Request Live performance right here!