It was just revealed that Avenged Sevenfold (with its new drummer in tow) were planning to head into the studio next month to record the follow up to 2013’s Hail To The King. However, the band are first heading to the courtroom with Warner Bros. Records, who has filed a breach-of-contract suit against the band for attempting to get out of their current contract.
According to Billboard, Avenged Sevenfold informed Warner Bros. in November of 2015 that they were seeking to get out of their contract with the label, citing the “seven-year rule” which under the California Labor Code allows parties to leave personal service contracts under certain circumstances after seven years have passed. In return, Warner Bros. filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit on January 8 against the band, claiming that the band’s decision was unlawful. In addition to compensatory damages, the label seeks “restitution and disgorgement of all gains and benefits” Avenged Sevenfold has received, pre and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and other relief deemed necessary.
Warner Bros. states in the lawsuit that the band is obligated to turn in two more studio albums as well as a CD/DVD live album, and that the label has already invested significant funds to the band’s future releases under the assumption that their agreement would remain effective. It’s important to note that the band’s original contract called for just five albums (four of which have been completed). However, the suit states that the contract had been renegotiated this past fall to include a sixth, with the band receiving additional advance royalties.
“Avenged Sevenfold recently exercised the rights given them by this law and ended its recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records,” the band’s attorney Howard E. King said in a statement obtained by Billboard. King further explains that since the band signed their contract in 2004, the label has “underwent multiple regime changes that led to dramatic turnover at every level of the company, to the point where no one on the current A&R staff has even a nodding relationship with the band.” King further adds that the band “looks forward to building a relationship with a new label” and that they have “every expectation that it will forge the success and personal relationships with them that it once had with Warner Bros.”
It remains to be seen how exactly this will affect the recording and release of Avenged Sevenfold’s new album. Even with their current legal battle, though, it’s safe to assume that Avenged Sevenfold has become one of the hottest free agents on the market. Their last album, Hail To The King, sold over 159,000 copies in its first week, while 2010’s Nightmare sold over 162,500 in its first week (both albums debuted at #1 on the charts). Many labels (even the majors) would probably love to sign one of the most commercially successful modern metal bands touring today. However, we’ll have to wait and see where A7X will land as they might be in court with Warner Bros. for a while.
UPDATE: Avenged Sevenfold has issued a statement clarifying a few details, namely that contrary to Billboard’s initial report, the band never renegotiated its original recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records to include an additional album. You can read the statement in its entirety below.
“We recently exercised our rights under California law and notified Warner Bros. Records we would no longer record for them. Few of the executives who have been integral to our continued success are still at the label, and we love and are grateful to them for their hard work. However, since we signed with the label, Warner Bros. has had 3 different regimes, multiple heads of marketing, and none of the senior management or A&R executives who were at the company and responsible for signing us are still there.
Whatever the activity, it takes a full team to compete, and we no longer know most of our teammates. In the coming days, you may read about the lawsuit our label filed against us for exercising our legal rights, rights the State of California granted specifically to protect artists. You may see mistaken facts or worse.
One such error we want to make sure you know about: Avenged Sevenfold has never renegotiated its original recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records. Billboard has now corrected its story to reflect the real facts.
Most importantly, we want our fans to know this: we are in the middle of writing a record we cannot wait for you to hear. We expect to go into the studio very soon, and look forward to releasing our new album later this year.
Until then, we wish all of you a happy, healthy 2016.