Review : Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare
RocksoundStepping away from the mainstream-friendly metal / pop albums of recent years, ‘Nightmare’ is A7X’s heaviest record to date. Crucially the ferocious and aggressive edge that hasn’t been heard since 01’s ‘Sounding The Seventh Trumpet’ shows the Californians can outlast their current poster boy status, as fair-weather fans are unlikely to bestow the same plaudits afforded on 07’s self-titled effort here. Nearly every song deals with themes of loss, and after the death of drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan in December 09, there are plenty of moments where frontman M. Shadows’ lyrics seem to be bidding farewell to this world. Offset against the utter malice prevalent on ‘God Hates Us’, there are more than a few striking resemblances to Metallica, as instrumental moments give way to epic guitar solos (‘So Far Away’, ‘Buried Alive’) – there’s even a ‘Master Of Puppets’ James Hetfield laugh two minutes into the title track! Though The Rev died before recording took place, he demoed the tracks with drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) using them as a template for the album. If there’s criticism, it’s that ‘Nightmare’ still falls back on clichés, building with aggressive force to then rely on a safe melodic chorus. However, there’s enough of a change to see A7X lash out beyond their core sound, making ‘Nightmare’ their greatest achievement to date....full text
AllmusicFollowing the death of Avenged Sevenfold drummer James “The Reverend” Sullivan in 2009, the band marched on, enlisting the help of Sullivan’s drumming hero, Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy, for their fifth studio album Nightmare. Luckily, the sound of the band remains unchanged, and as one of the best drummers in the business, Portnoy picks up the reigns and rides the Deathbat's double kick in complete synchronicity with Gates, Christ, and Vengeance. Like their previous outings, the group incorporates a New Wave of British Heavy Metal influence throughout Nightmare while paying tribute to ‘80s hair metal with guitar god appeal; but playing retroactive music doesn’t seem to concern them, as long as they play it more skillfully than their forefathers. The group’s influences may be worn on their sleeves, (check out the chugging Metallica "One" breakdown in “Buried Alive,” or the Queensrÿche-style power-ballad “Victim”), but there is no denying that they have some of the best chops in the metal world. Songs shift from their trademark blistering assault to Black album ballads on a dime; M. Shadows continually amazes with his vocal acrobatics, and the opening riff of "Natural Born Killer" ramps up to an inhuman speed. "Save Me" ends the album as one of their most epic songs to date, in a proper 21 gun salute, as thunderous blasts and guitar divebombs interweave into a melodic, heartfelt “Tonight we all die young!” outro. It's a fitting tribute for their fallen 28-year-old comrade, and excellent proof of the band's ability. However, as great as Nightmare's finale is, the Alice Cooper-gone-blue “it’s your fuckin’ nightmare!” chorus on the title track is too cliché to be excused....full text
SputnikmusicIf there's a grey area between solid return to form and stagnant mediocrity, this is more or less where Avenged Sevenfold hits the mark with Nightmare. Given the terrible rut the band worked themselves into on their self-titled record and the less than stellar "Nightmare" and "Buried Alive", previewed in the weeks leading up to the album's release, Nightmare's prospects didn't look good. But then again, even Avenged Sevenfold's good albums have unfortunate moments (the bro-downs in Sounding the Seventh Trumpet's "Thick and Thin", the mundane pace in Waking the Fallen's "Desecrate Through Reverence", the clumsy songwriting in City of Evil's "Betrayed"). While they've previously been able to overcome their weaknesses, the strongest moments on Nightmare aren't quite good enough to hide Avenged Sevenfold's flaws.
Nightmare isn't an easy album to dive right into for two major reasons, which hold back several otherwise decent tracks. Avenged Sevenfold have always been at their best when they focus on playing infectious melodic metal (or metalcore), particularly through their utilization of Iron Maiden inspired guitar harmonies. The results are predictably less than adept when they get heavier. It's obvious that they love Pantera and Metallica, but the chunky, down-tuned groove riffs sounded terrible in the '90s, and sound terrible in "Nightmare", "Welcome to the Family", "Buried Alive", and especially "God Hates Us". It's a problem closely related to Nightmare's other huge issue: the album is too damn long. Or it feels that way at any rate; Nightmare's sixty-six minutes run shorter than both Waking the Fallen and City of Evil, and though the majority of the record's rockers are only around five minutes long, they do not flow as fluidly as they could. With the exception of "God Hates Us" and "Buried Alive", guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance do transition back into their melodic tendencies in choruses, instrumental breaks, and the like, making for a much more engaging listen. Granted, so long as you can make it through the poor attempts at groove influenced metal, that is....full text
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