Nightmare is the fifth studio album from the Huntington Beach, CA based metal band, Avenged Sevenfold, and the first released without founding drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who passed away on December 28th 2009. The drumming on the album was recorded by Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who was actually one of The Rev’s drumming role models, and Portnoy will also tour through the end of 2010 with A7X, including the ROCKSTAR Energy Drink Uproar Festival with Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Stone Sour, and Halestorm.
The album kicks off with the albums first radio single, titled Nightmare. Nightmare starts off with a soft lullaby-like introduction, but goes full-out heavy at the 33 second mark. This song, musically, is likely the heaviest radio single to be released by Avenged Sevenfold. In my opinion, this song, lyrically, is a continuation of A7X’s 2008 single, “Afterlife”. The next track is Welcome to the Family. The song starts off with almost rap-like vocals by M. Shadows, then transitioning into the usual trio of M.Shadows, lead guitarist Synyster Gates, and rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance on the bridge. Overall great track, both lyrically & musically, and potential single status.
Danger Line starts out with an interesting drum and guitar pattern. This is another one of Avenged Sevenfold’s military-themed songs, along with MIA off of their 2005 album, City of Evil, and Gunslinger from their 2007 self-titled album. After hearing this song, playing Danger Line, MIA, and Gunslinger in order, could complete the “story”.
Next comes Buried Alive. This song has a Metallica-esque feel to it, both musically and lyrically. So far, this track features M. Shadows best vocals on the album. Buried Alive has single potential.
Natural Born Killer features one of the heaviest intros in an A7X song since their 2003 album, Waking The Fallen. Many could interpret this as another military-themed song by Avenged Sevenfold, along with the tracks I mentioned in Danger Line.
So Far Away is one of two acoustic/ballad songs on the album, much like Dear God was on their 2007 self-titled album, Seize The Day was on their 2005 release “City of Evil”, and Warmness on the Soul was on their 2001 album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. So Far Away was wrote and composed by Synyster Gates, and appears to be about The Rev’s passing and how he is dealing with it. It’s easily one of the most emotional tracks on this album, and also features guitar contributions from Synyster Gates’ father, Brian Haner Sr, who is a comedian/guitarist, known to A7X fans as “Papa
Gates”. This song has potential to cross over to Hot AC radio for a single.
God Hates Us features a surprising but very welcoming return to the older-metalcore style of the bands first two albums, 2001’s Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and 2003’s Waking The Fallen. M. Shadows has not had screaming vocals since those two albums were released, and many thought that he couldn’t scream anymore, but this song proves everyone wrong, even though
Shadows had resumed screaming in live shows starting with the band‘s last tour to support their 2007 self-titled album. One of my personal favorites on the album.
Victim has a surprising intro, at least for Avenged Sevenfold, by featuring a gospel singer. Musically, I can say this song has some Metallica influences. It may take awhile for some A7X fans to get used to this song, but it will grow on you quickly.
Tonight the World Dies is the second acoustic/ballad song on Nightmare. I think this could also get some acclaim among fans, due to M. Shadows strong vocal performance. Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance play a very interesting guitar outro to the song.
Fiction is the lone song to feature noticeable vocals from The Rev, as it was recorded before his passing. Originally titled Death, the band changed the title to Fiction upon his death, which was The Rev’s nickname. This song also features no guitar parts at all. Mainly featuring piano, bass, and drums, along with the duet between M. Shadows and The Rev. Very emotional song, given the passing of The Rev.
Save Me is the last, and longest track on the album, clocking in at 10:56. In my opinion, this is, lyrically, one of Avenged Sevenfold’s best songs, ranked high with the track I Won’t See You Tonight part 1 on their 2003 album, Waking the Fallen.
Nightmare was likely one of the most difficult albums I’ve listened to, because of the fact that The Rev had died unexpectedly, and with me being a diehard A7X fan, it was still hard to think that The Rev won‘t be drumming on this album, although he had completed drum arrangements and a few vocal spots. This album is a must purchase for all hard rock and metal fans.