Avenged Sevenfold revives metal with ‘Nightmare’

By Joel Dameron

Staff Writer

Note: For appropriate listening of this album turn the bass and volume on your stereo all the way up. If it’s too loud, you’re too old.

The album starts out with a creepy child’s piano playing the main riff. All of a sudden searing harmonized guitar leads (courtesy of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance) and thundering drums (courtesy of Mr. Portnoy) along with Johnny Christ’s low end bass thump burst onto the scene blowing out the speakers of any stereo system it’s played on, assuming it’s played at the right volume. Welcome to “Nightmare.”

This song sets the pulse for the entire album with its thrashing guitar riffage, tandem drum gymnastics and cutting duel guitar leads. The chest rattling breakdown and crippling solo that would make any guitarist jealous only seems to be heightened by M. Shadows’ vocal cord shattering singing style.

“HEY KIDS! Do I have your attention? I know the way you been livin’.” The second song, titled “Welcome to the Family” picks up all the carnage left behind in your brain from the first song and shoves it back down your throat with its homage of slides, bends and trills in the opening riff.

Track three, “Danger Line,” bring in drums and intro guitars reminiscent of the “Waking the Fallen” A7X circa 2003. Avenged brings in old music frequently, and when they have a riff or section that harkens back to a previous album, it’s looked at as, how should I put this, awesome.

The best part of this song is the bridge, firstly because of the lyrics; they’re extremely powerful lyrics that I won’t spoil for you. Reason no.2 is the piano in the bridge. There’s something about a nice, soft piano in a metal song that gets me every time, and no. 3 is the beautifully melodic solo that soulfully arrives at the end of Shadows’ vocals.

“Buried Alive” is one of the best songs on the album. It encompasses every good thing that metal has had to offer in the last 20 years. It reminds me of a Metallica ballad from the ’80s. Everything about this song’s structure seems to be perfect and unforgettable.

The next song is my personal challenge to any and all drummers. Play “Natural Born Killer” all the way through…if you can. The song title is completely appropriate because everything about this song is utterly brutal. The drums and the vocals are equally vicious. This song is a true challenge for any vocalist, made even more impressive by the fact that there is none of the dreaded autotune that rappers and rockers alike use so carelessly today.

Track six, titled “So Far Away,” is M. Shaddows’ homage to his fallen comrade. It eases the awesomeness pain brought on by the previous song. It’s also probably the catchiest song on the album. It starts off with a lone acoustic playing a chord progression in an arpeggiated classical nuance. Then creamy guitar leads and eventually Shaddows’ overwhelming vocals cascade in an intensely powerful wave. The ending is complete satisfaction.

“God Hates Us” starts out nice and sweet with a slow picked guitar progression and lead accompaniment. You do not quite know what you are dealing with until the progression takes a darker turn and plunges into the chasm of a callous inducing nightmare of an opening guitar riff. Saying that this song is clearly the heaviest song on the album is an understatement.

Dear every other metal band, this is how a heavy song is done. P.S. Keep trying.

“Victim” has a Pink Floyd quality to it, especially in the intro. The key change that leads into the verse is brilliant. The music is very smart and, once again, Shaddows’ vocals soar far into greatness. The prechorus/chorus builds quite well. The first solo invokes a sudden burst of happiness that cannot be explained. The bridge explodes with ballady-goodness. The second solo can only be described as some weird combination of beautiful and delicious, so I guess it would be beautilicious or deleautiful, whichever you prefer. Bottom line it is one of the best songs on the album.

“Tonight the World Dies” features Synyster Gates’ father Brian Haner Sr. on slide guitar. The whole song just gives you chills. From eerie slide licks to odd progressions to the background ooohhhs to Shaddows’ speaker shattering vocals on the chorus this song has a ghostly demeanor that cannot be exercised.

Number 10, which is titled “Fiction,” is the most important song on the album. It was a song completely written and recorded by Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan two days before he was found dead. The song was originally titled “Death” but was renamed “Fiction” as a tribute to Jimmy in reference to his favorite tattoo. The song was recorded at Jimmy’s house and appears on the album as is. The only thing added was Shaddows’ vocal harmonies. The band decided to leave it in its original form to pay tribute to just how talented Jimmy was. The music, lyrics, lead vocals, piano, drums and organ were all by Jimmy.

The song itself is utterly extraordinary. The piano is perfectly creepy and the drum patterns perfectly highlight and accent this quality. It seems to groove along in a beautiful lumbering radiance. The lyrics are poignant and sadly all too real.

The only way you could manage to have an appropriate ending to an album like this is to have a 10 minute and 56 second opera of awesomeness that summed up the entire album into one big epic devotional, and that is exactly what the band does with “Save Me,” the 11th and final song. “Save Me” is Avenged Sevenfold in its purest form, the uncut Columbian if you will.

In closing I just want to say that “Nightmare” is one of the best metal albums I have ever heard. It also is officially one of my favorite albums of all time. Avenged Sevenfold have stretched their hands out about as close to perfection as humanly possible. It does not get much better than this. Ladies and gentlemen, buy this album. I urge you, I implore you, I beg you, buy this album. If you own one metal album of the 21st century let it be “Nightmare.”

****1/2

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Photo from jaced.com