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Avenged Sevenfold - "Nightmare" (CD)

Avenged Sevenfold - "Nightmare" CD cover image

"Nightmare" track listing:

1. Nightmare (6:14)
2. Welcome to the Family (4:06)
3. Danger Line (5:28)
4. Buried Alive (6:44)
5. Natural Born Killer (5:15)
6. So Far Away (5:27)
7. God Hates Us (5:19)
8. Victim (7:30)
9. Tonight the World Dies (4:41)
10. Fiction (5:13)
11. Save Me (10:56)

Reviewed by on September 9, 2010

" If you own an Avenged Sevenfold album and are not afraid to venture into the territory of mainstream metal, 'Nightmare' is a must have for you. "

With the untimely and tragic demise of James “The Rev” Sullivan, Avenged Sevenfold’s future was left with an uncertain outlook. “The Rev” died in early production of the album on December 28, 2009 and Avenged Sevenfold suspended all musical endeavors to reflect the tragic passing of their fallen comrade and long-time drummer. It was not clear whether Avenged Sevenfold would be resuming production anytime soon.

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy offered to replace “The Rev” on the rest of the album and throughout the duration of the tour. Avenged Sevenfold accepted his proposition and the “Nightmare” was born. Promising to be one of the darkest Avenged Sevenfold albums to date, “Nightmare” reaches this benchmark and much more. “Nightmare” is one of the best Avenged Sevenfold albums to date, matching the success of 2005’s “City of Evil.” If you own an Avenged Sevenfold album and are not afraid to venture into the territory of mainstream metal, “Nightmare” is a must have for you.

What I like about this album is it is very eclectic, blending slower songs like “Fiction” with much aggressive and faster ones like “Natural Born Killers.” The album opens up with the lead single “Nightmare.” This song has the most memorable chorus, but also has the cheesiest line on the album and possibly this year: “It’s your fucking nightmare.” I can understand that they wanted to be heavy, but in order to avoid the cliché that so many fans of metal think they already reinforce, they should have improvised this line, or better yet, omit the “fucking” part because it was totally unnecessary. However, this is to be expected by a mainstream band. What mainstream band doesn't have catchy and clichéd lyrics?

Lead singer M. Shadows does an incredible job on vocals. The more I listen to his unique voice, the more I am beginning to go from once loathing his voice to appreciating it. On songs like “Danger Line” and “Fiction,” his vocal performance eerily reminds me of the vocal style of Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses, which is probably a tribute to one of their admitted influences. On some songs though, M. Shadows has trouble reinventing the harsh vocal style he previously used throughout the early metalcore days of Avenged Sevenfold on “Sounding the Seventh Trumpet” and “Waking the Fallen.” When listening to the song “God Hates Us,” M. Shadows has trouble transitioning from clean to harsh vocals.

This is understandable though, because he injured his voice on “Waking the Fallen,” which was ultimately the reason why he abandoned harsh vocals on “City of Evil” completely. However, Avenged Sevenfold has been a success since the change to totally clean vocals, so why fix something that does not need repairing? If M. Shadows has been out of commission on performing such songs that called for extreme vocalization, then the whole team neglected to reconsider the need to make time for “vocal therapy.” It often takes several weeks to fully be able to incorporate such extremities in pitch. They definitely missed their golden opportunity to polish the harsh vocals and make it as memorable as “Waking the Fallen.”

If you can get passed some of the clichéd lyrics and some parts where the harsh vocal transitioned flops, there really is no other criticism worth mentioning. Portnoy does an outstanding job of filling in the shoes of “The Rev.” In fact, if you were not to tell me it was Mike Portnoy, I would still think that the drumming came from “The Rev.” Zacky Vengeance is still shredding his solos, but nothing was quite memorable as the riffs and solos on "City of Evil."

However, the acoustic and piano incorporation on “Fiction,” ‘Tonight the World Dies,” “Buried Alive,” “So Far Away,” and “Victim” surely compensate from this mishap. In fact, “Fiction” was the last song “The Rev” was a part of. To me, this song is the best one on the whole album. The piano portion of the song is incredibly catchy, and I can guarantee that it will remain in your head for days to come. The last song, “Save Me,” is incredibly lengthy. It is the longest track since “Strength of The World” from “City of Evil,” and concludes “Nightmare” by giving new light and hope from a band that was torn by such a sudden tragedy.

Zacky Vengeance and the rest of the Avenged Sevenfold crew turned a tragedy around into a triumph. They prove that music can often be cathartic by writing music that turns a tragedy into something that can be expressed in meaningful lyrics. “Nightmare” does not stray far away from the Avenged Sevenfold formula; so chances are if you did not like them before “Nightmare,” you are probably not going to be a fan of this album.

Highs: Almost all the songwriting is pretty solid, with no discernible fillers.

Lows: The harsh vocals and some cheesy cliched lyrics

Bottom line: If you are a fan of Avenged Sevenfold or mainstream metal, you will definitely 100% enjoy the "Nightmare."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)