Avenged Sevenfold's drummer James 'the Rev' Sullivan tragically passed away in December 2009, and with a new album underway, the band "asked Jimmy's all time favorite drummer Mike Portnoy to record on behalf of him."

In a statement released earlier this month, the band continued, "Mike said it would be an honor and without question that's what Jim would have wanted. It's comforting to us that someone like Mike, who is undoubtedly revered as one of the best drummers in the world, held such respect and adoration for the Rev's abilities."

Here, Dream Theater's Portnoy offers an update on recording with A7X:

"Just finished my drum tracks for the Avenged Sevenfold album...what an amazing and emotional experience! Me and Zacky (Vengeance - guitar) celebrated by getting matching Death Bat tats here in the studio.

I must thank the amazing A7X fans for being so open and welcoming to me. I was fearing them being very defensive over The Rev's drum throne but they've all been so supportive, open-minded, understanding and excited by the news...it is a huge relief to me and the guys!.

What an awesome family spirit these guys have...lotsa love! Shadows (vocals), Gates (guitar), Zacky and Johnny (Christ - bass) are now my brothers for life. Hopefully this won't be the last time I play with them.

And oh yeah, the album is gonna be incredible!

The Rev is absolutely looking down with a big-ass smile on his face!"