For Fans Of
Avenged Sevenfold’s fifth studio album is an incredibly conflicting listening experience. Choosing where to align your opinion is as difficult as it is changing. Part of you wants to love ‘Nightmare’ with stoic loyalty while the other half wants to loathe it and distance yourself as much as possible. Put bluntly, ‘Nightmare’ has its fair share of individual instances where both preferences are explored, tested and employed.
With the tragic events that preceded this release, serving as a musical undercurrent to the eventual output of album five, even those with apathy and coldness would probably admit they would like this album to succeed.
Polarising natures and views of the band aside, Avenged Sevenfold have always been solid and capable musicians. The addition of Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy has proven results here. Like trading in a Ferrari for a Lamborghini, impressive performance is replaced by equal and similar delivery that maintains the same level of excellence.
While debut, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’ had an idealistic charm, and ‘Waking the Fallen’ still ranks as the band’s defining release, the Avenged Sevenfold sound has taken a shift in recent times. A predominant metal identity has been replaced by a more favourable hard rock styling, with interchanging screams replaced entirely by clean sung vocals.
Admittedly, it is because of a sad and unfortunate situation but ‘Nightmare’ benefits from strong emotion and passion, which is reflected explicitly in the music. ‘God Hates Us’ might just have long-time fans rushing back with the song asserting itself as the heaviest track thus far in the A7X catalogue – sounding like it was lifted straight from the ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ style book. Additionally ‘core’ kids will appreciate the breakdown towards the tail end.
Album highlight, ‘Buried Alive’ channels a classic metal sound, reminiscent to Metallica with its crescendo structure. While, ‘Natural Born Killer’ culminates in a chorus that is a throwback to the ‘Waking the Fallen’ sessions. Title track, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Welcome to the Family’ are both catchy and infectious.
However, here lies the problem. If the entire album were filled with songs of the same kind this would be a very impressive release. Unfortunately, much like the two releases that came before ‘Nightmare’, the album as a whole, suffers from a musical ratio, which suggests that for every good song there are one or two equally poor tacks.
In addition, while the band wears their musical influences on their collective sleeves, this admirable quality is sometimes a slight weakness – with the music coming off as a muddled hybrid at times.
‘Nightmare’ is certainly not going to rank alongside albums of the ilk of ‘And Justice for All’ or ‘The Number of the Beast’, but although a very much commercial metal release, it still deserves credit for its level of professionalism and performance. This might just be your ‘guilty pleasure’ album of 2010.
Satisfactory is probably the most apt word to describe ‘Nightmare’. Nothing flash, but nothing boring either. Once again, the musicality is of the highest order. However, while fans that lost faith with subsequent albums released after ‘Waking the Fallen’ will still be long gone, this offering is a solid reflection of an enduring band. At the end of the day, it is up to the listeners to make up their own mind.
2. Welcome to the Family
3. Danger Line
4. Buried Alive
5. Natural Born Killer
6. So Far Away
7. God Hates Us
9. Tonight the World Dies
11. Save Me