AVENGED SEVENFOLD “Nightmare” – The Crown Jewel Of A7X
It has been a little over two months since the July 27th, 2010 release of “Nightmare” from Avenged Sevenfold. This has been more than enough time for me to listen to their fifth studio album and come to this realization… “Nightmare” is profoundly bigger and more badass than any critics out there ever expected. To listen to this new A7X album and walk away unimpressed tells me only one thing… your oozing with quality Metal envy. The #1 album chart status and sales figures alone for “Nightmare” are telling of the popularity and quality that A7X carries with their brand of Heavy Rock.
The lead single of “Nightmare” alone is as fine an example of the musical maturation that A7X has reached, in factually just a decade. With shades of Metallica influence combined within their own Metal prowess, A7X can very well know they have made the song of their lives. Just when you think “Nightmare” is going to subside, it doesn’t. This song is uncannily relentless with its psyche-you-out continuity. I can’t help but think to myself… this “Nightmare” song will make Metallica wish it was theirs. I state this as a compliment to both bands, I’m opposed to stirring up controversy. Sometimes.
Anyone still unfamiliar with this “Nightmare” album should consider themselves either a rain forest hermit or walking in their sleep while still having functioning body parts. To pick apart this album would be rather easy… if you never listened to it. That sadly, has been the morbid case in situations that are few and far between. “Nightmare” is so much more than the lead single. As is always the case with A7X, this is a total album of songs. As diverse as it is dynamic, “Nightmare” flourishes with its originality from song to song, with not a micro hint of cut and paste with this extraordinary group of musicians.
If “Danger Line” doesn’t bring your eyes to some semblance of tears, then obviously the lyrics go right over your head. “Danger Line” incorporates whistling and a piano for extra emotional affect, evaporating the immature mentality out there that A7X is NOT a screaming Metalcore band for teenage boys only. Take that, all of you liberal and over compensated mainstream Rock Music critics. “Buried Alive” relies on its melodic heaviness to carry out it’s more than memorable song structure. This is a song that plays out in two parts, one part heavy ballad and second part melt your eardrums into Heavy Metal delirium.
“So Far Away” further removes the unsubstantiated stereotype and misgivings that A7X at times have to duck away from. This song is remarkable in both its musicianship and lyrics. “So Far Away” is the bridge between A7X the Metal Band and A7X the diverse and skillful musicians that they glowingly are. “Tonight The World Dies” tantalizes with a Classic Rock sensibility that marries into the emotionally driven darkness that is this “Nightmare” album. M. Shadows vocally switches from crooning to power bellows with flawless and inherent confidence.
“God Hates Us” is undisputedly the heaviest track on “Nightmare”, exposing the full throttle and extreme side that A7X can credibly unleash through song. If “Nightmare” was built around the sound and fury of “God Hates Us”, A7X would be just another Metal Band that made a “decent” album. This song is grand and mighty in every musical aspect, only A7X doesn’t need to rely on this high level of heaviness to be as great as they are. It is songs like “Victim” that enriches this “Nightmare” album into its “necessity to own” status. A heavy ballad is “Victim” and it does not resemble anything you have ever heard in a “heavy ballad” before. This is as modernistic and emblematic of what a heavy ballad should sound like… and A7X created it.
M. Shadows sings his heart out on this entire album, with the purest and most legitimate emotion spilling over each and every syllable. Yes, hearing Dream Theater founder and former drummer Mike Portnoy on drums is evident and incredible all the same. Mike Portnoy only escalates the totality of power and drive with his rhythmic essence and elegance within these songs heard on “Nightmare”. Synyster Gates on lead guitar and Zacky Vengeance on rhythm guitar compliment one another to the point where they are a guitar brotherhood. Listening to both play together on “Nightmare” is seamless in their unison. Johnny Christ on bass is heard very clearly, playing alongside Mike Portnoy with rhythmic precision, to my ears anyways.
“Save Me” is the epic song on “Nightmare”, coming in a few seconds short of eleven minutes. If Synyster Gates intentionally wanted his guitar to sound as if it were singing, he succeeded here. This song is not going to be a dreaded epic listen, for those of you who have not heard it just yet. A7X took great care into considering song structure for “Save Me”, it plays out as a short story with ample guitar parts that focus on melody and harmony, rather than raw power leads. With a ballad formula that compensates by its overall hardness, “Save Me” never loses my attention for a second. The speed kicks in at the midway point, with multiple guitar solo’s that brandish speed, while never compromising this song’s melodic intent.
Jimmy “The Reverend” Sullivan sings on “Fiction” and is credited with the drum arrangements as well. Hearing “The Rev” sing these lyrics on “Fiction” is chilling and leaves an emotional impression on me. Not to sound cliche, yet, “The Rev” was a one of a kind drummer. A7X will never be the same band without “The Rev”, his untimely and tragic passing only reminds me to never take for granted great musicians who have brought joy to my Metal loving life… and to not take life for granted either.
“Lost It All” is the non-album track that is available on itunes as a deluxe version bonus track. This song’s dark theme and heaviness fits right into the “Nightmare” scheme of things, showcasing just how brilliant sounding A7X is, when they combine present day “hardness” with their already patented “heaviness”.
I liken “Nightmare” to be Avenged Sevenfold’s “Back In Black” album, possibly their “Black Album” of their career. It surely comes across this way to my ears and senses. A7X took a dark approach lyrically and delicately weaved some heavy emotion into an album of songs that is fittingly titled “Nightmare”. Not one song sounds forced or contrived “at the last minute” of recording. This is an album to embrace for not just its skillful musicians, this album must be embraced for its end product being the totality of “real” songs. There is nothing pre-packaged here, this is “Nightmare” and A7X can stand tall and proud in “my” Metal world.
Rating: Out of 10
- Welcome To The Family
- Danger Line
- Buried Alive
- Natural Born Killer
- So Far Away
- God Hates Us
- Tonight The World Dies
- Save Me
Avenged Sevenfold is:
M. Shadows – vocals
Synyster Gates – lead guitar, backing vocals
Zacky Vengeance – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Johnny Christ – bass
The Rev – Drum arrangements, Lead Vocals on Fiction, Drums on Nightmare’s demo
Mike Portnoy – drums, percussions
Brian Haner, Sr. – guitars on “So Far Away”
Sharlotte Gibson – backing vocals
Jessi Collins – backing vocals
David Palmer – piano, keyboards
Stevie Blacke – Strings, string arrangement
Stewart Cole – trumpet
Mike Elizondo – keyboards
The Whistler – Whistling