avenged sevenfoldAvenged Sevenfold‘s sixth studio album, ‘Hail To The King’, sold 159,000 copies in its first week of release, giving the California band their second straight chart-topper after 2010’s ‘Nightmare’, no small feat for a band that’s consistently evolved with each album, taking on a new sound each time.

Alin Ilejay, a former member of Confie, joined Avenged Sevenfold in early 2011, to the surprise of many fans, as the replacement for James “The Rev” Sullivan, who passed away tragically in 2009.

Their latest release is the first to take place without Sullivan’s input, and Ilejay has been touring pretty consistently with them since taking over the sticks. So far, 2013 has proven to be a pretty hectic adventure with a lot going on for both Ilejay and the band. “It’s just been pretty insane, it’s a whole new experience for me and I’ve just been working on bringing a killer show every single time. There’s just so much touring plans adding up and adding up and adding up and the only real focus has become making sure I have enough energy for every show so that none of the shows are lacking.

As for his input on the record, Ilejay stated that he felt the band had their own idea of what they wanted to do. “It’s a pretty crazy rollercoaster, it’s super intense and the records doing so well.. but on this record I pretty much just had to sit back and watch and learn. I didn’t have any major input on the writing process, I just sat back and just soaked up their vision so to speak. Even when we went in to record the record I was still so unclear as to what to do, a lot of the drumming came together last minute whilst recording. On the spot, that was mad.”

Filling the shoes of one of the most revered drummers in metal today is no small feat either. Taking over from “The Rev” comes with its drawbacks, but this is a push more to prove yourself than a place to take, said Ilejay. “I usually don’t so much worry about filling in his shoes really. What we do in Avenged is take what we have and take what we’ve lived and we appreciate it. I never got to really meet the Rev, and that’s the most intense thing. Talent wise and music wise, he was such a genius and it can get pretty intimidating sometimes. Even beyond the grave it can feel like he’s kicking my butt, his drumming and his talent were so far beyond that I’m only catching up with regards to being able to play nearly as well as him… Honestly though, it’s a dream playing in Avenged and to be part of this family”

Over a decade into the recording process, the band still seem to be finding their sound, with jumps from metalcore into more conventional stadium rock and hardcore sounds pushing through, the latest has been getting more comparisons than ever to earlier Metallica albums. “We just wanted to make a killer record, in the fashion that we’ve seen other metal gods do so to speak and when you’re aiming for the top, you aim where past artists have aimed. The guys have been raised on classic rock and classic metal and when you take that passion and that drive and you bring it back down to bare bones then the goal is to strip it down and just write music that people have loved and that has stood the test of time. Everybody can compare how they will, but this is just the records that the guys wanted to write.”

As for what fans can expect when the band hit Dublin in December, apparently there will be more flames and fire on stage than ever before “that is if the local fire department let us. We’ve been told occasionally we can’t have that kind of thing on stage but here’s hoping it goes ahead with a lot of explosions and a heavy rock show.”

Avenged Sevenfold play The 02 on December 3rd alongside Five Finger Death Punch and Device