Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Music

Jimmy Sullivan, better known as The Reverend Tholomew Plague was lost to Avenged Sevenfold and the world on December 28, 2009 – a reminder of what can happen when good people get mixed up with bad habits. There was some question of whether the band could carry on without the distinctive playing style and vocals that The Rev contributed, and if so, whether they could find someone to fill his rather big shoes. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) was the answer. Technically, he is more than competent enough to play the parts Sullivan had already written. On top of that, Portnoy was one of The Rev’s drum heroes, so it was only fitting that he carry out the task of filling in for him. Still, Portnoy’s presence could not make up the gap Jimmy Sullivan left in Avenged Sevenfold. The most promising aspect of the band post-Avenged Sevenfold was the inclusion of songs penned by Sullivan, and the use of his extremely idiosyncratic vocals. It’s a monumental shame that he didn’t have the time to add more of his own touch to the record – the most interesting songs on Nightmare are “Fiction” and “Save Me,” both written by The Rev.

As individuals, the guys in Avenged Sevenfold have progressed greatly. Synyster Gates’ (guitar) technical skill always impresses, but his phrasing really shines in his solos on Nightmare. For the first time, Gates’ solos sound well thought out, instead of just bursts of mindless noodling. The “Buried Alive” solo gives me goosebumps, and I’m not afraid to say it. It can only be assumed that Johnny Christ’s bass playing has improved, because there are numerous instances throughout the record where you can actually hear him. Zacky Vengeance seems to have picked up a few new tricks too – his playing holds down songs like “Natural Born Killer” while adding impressive rhythmic nuances. Singer M. Shadows may have found his sweet spot with Nightmare, featuring clean vocals without sacrificing any grit. In a perfect world, this album would be a sign of Shadows reintegrating some screams into songs, but don’t hold your breath.

Nightmare isn’t a bad album. It’s actually a step in the right direction. The problem is that it fails to deliver the masterwork that many fans expected. It has its silver lining (“Fiction” is one of the most beautiful songs in the A7X catalogue), but as a whole, it’s nothing to get excited about. Still, Nightmare will appeal to fans who liked Avenged Sevenfold, and it stands as a proper tribute to their fallen brother.

1. Nightmare
2. Welcome To The Family
3. Danger Line
4. Buried Alive
5. Natural Born Killer
6. So Far Away
7. God Hates Us
8. Victim
9. Tonight The World Dies
10. Fiction
11. Save Me


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