CD Review: Avenged Sevenfold / Nightmare
Reviewed by: Ryan Labbe
Avenged Sevenfold are back with, well, a vengeance. Nightmare, the band’s fifth, full length album, proves to be a hard hitting step up from 2007’s self titled effort; however, the album almost didn’t happen. In December 2009, drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan passed away. In the days following his death, the band seriously considered not continuing on. But in true rock fashion, the remaining members decided that The Rev would never have wanted that. Fast forward a few months, and with Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy behind the drum kit, we have Nightmare. It’s an eclectic mix of furious metal riffs and dueling guitars courtesy of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengenace, Portnoy’s pounding double bass drum, and M. Shadows’ dynamic vocals supported by Johnny Christ’s low end bass tones.
The album opens with the title track, an intro reminiscent of the Nightmare on Elm Street theme, only slower. Without warning, the band bursts to life. M. Shadows let’s out a scream of “Nightmare! Now your nightmare comes to life,” and off they go. “You should have known the price of evil,” sings Shadows during the chorus, with the backing vocals providing the harmonies. At just over six minutes in length, “Nightmare” provides a solid opener full of all the elements that make this band great.
The album keeps a fast pace with “Welcome to the Family,” “Danger Line,” and the thrash metal stylings of “Natural Born Killers.” One of the most intense cuts on the album is “God Hates Us.” It begins innocently enough, with some quiet chorus laden guitar picking. When the song goes full bore, it would please any old school Avenged Sevenfold fan, with its fast paced riffs, break-neck double bass drum, and guttural screams that the band built it sound around on their first couple releases.
There are also a few slower tunes on Nightmare, and while “Buried Alive” and “Victim” are good songs, I have been struck with a distinct liking for “Fiction,” which surprised me because I read another critic describe it as the worst song on the album. The story behind this song is that it was written by The Rev a few days before he died. The original title was “Death,” and the subject matter of the lyrics are chillingly ironic, with lines like ‘“Left this life to set me free/Took a piece of you inside of me/Now this hurt can finally fade/Promise me you’ll never be afraid” and “I know you’ll find your own way when i’m not with you.” “Fiction” opens up with an eerie, yet beautiful, piano riff that drives the song forward. It’s as far from a typical Avenged Sevenfold song as you can get, but a noteworthy addition and tribute of sorts to The Rev.
Overall, I really enjoyed Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare. It’s not without its flaws, but has more than enough gems to keep me waiting for the next album.