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Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare

Label: Warner Brothers
Format: CD
Released: 2010
Reviewed By: Kevin Alba
Rating: 9/ 10


This is without a doubt the surprise album of the year for me. I have heard the name plenty of times over the years, knew they are very popular, heard bits and pieces of some of their music in passing, etc. However, nothing ever really caught my ear enough to buy the music. This year my interest was slightly sparked when Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater had joined their ranks (after the sad passing of their drummer The Rev). Portnoy was the Rev’s favorite and Mike was honored to fill in during this tough time. Still, their new album had come out and I was not motivated yet to hear what work they had done with Portnoy. It was not until August when I attended the Uproar tour to see Disturbed, Stone Sour and Halestorm, that I realized what I have been missing out on. Following their performance that night in Scranton, PA I simply could not wait to run out and buy their brand new album "Nightmare".

 

The title track opens the album with an eerie nursery type of sound which leaves a very uneasy feeling in your stomach because you know something crazy is about to go down. The song kicks in with pummeling drums, haunting electric guitars and easily one of the best build ups of the year before going full force ahead. Mostly clean vocals mixed with a few lines on the extreme side of the fence work very well in this setting. The song while being a rather heavy number manages to be very catchy and features a chorus the fans can sing along to. Guitar solo here is top notch and something a lot of today’s top American acts are lacking (and should learn a thing or two from). ‘Welcome to the Family’ is up next and perhaps a foreshadowed message to Mr. Portnoy who has since left Dream Theater and will remain a member of Avenged Sevenfold (for the time being). This track opens up with some killer drumming that only Mike could lay down and is once again a heavy song that manages to be catchy and singable. At this point I am very impressed and hungry to see what else the band has in store.

Several tracks later its ‘Buried Alive’ which for the most part is very balladish, picks up a bit half way through with some killer guitar work, and then at the 4:58 mark just goes fucking insane and leaves you feeling like you just got clocked in the head with an ice cold burial shovel. This song reminded me a lot of old school Metallica, a modern ‘Fade to Black’ of sorts, and my first true blown away moment on the album. The next tune to get my attention would come several tracks later, ‘God Hates Us’, which I have to say is one of the heaviest, thrashing openings I have heard in a very long time. Starting off with a slow old school Metallica build up and leading into a nuclear bomb going off. I am talking so heavy that names like Slayer, Testament and Overkill came to mind. This is without a doubt one for the mosh pit!

‘So Far Away’ is a very moving and touching ballad that talks about living without the ones you love and ‘Fiction’ opens up with some great keyboards that could be heard in a haunted chapel and wouldn’t sound too out of place on a Dream Theater album. This is a great ballad that deals with the depression that comes with the separation of two people. You can really feel the emotion coming out of this one and the arrangements really set a great atmosphere to compliment the lyrics. I went on to learn that this is the last song that The Rev submitted for the album and was originally titled ‘Death’. He ended up passing away three days later. How eerie is that?

I must say, after this brilliant album I am without a doubt a brand new (proud) fan. This will be very high up on my favorite albums of 2010. M Shadows has a very unique voice, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zachy Vengeance play very much in the vein of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray at times (Iron Maiden), bassist Johnny Christ is a beast with his weapon, and Mike Portnoy is...Mike fuckin’ Portnoy for crying out loud. Although I love Portnoy in Dream Theater and will miss him, I would not mind one bit him sticking around and continuing with Avenged because I really love what these guys have created together. I have always considered Portnoy to be a chameleon as he can adapt to any situation, and he proves that again here as he fits right in. Having gone back and checked out more stuff from these guys I found a lot of it to be enjoyable but this is without a doubt their biggest, most dynamic album to date.

I know the majority of MetalAsylum.net readers are traditional hard rockers and metalheads but I am telling you if Iron Maiden, Metallica and bands along those lines are your thing as well as catchy, memorable choruses, this is something that may truly grab your interest and leave you as surprised and satisfied as it left me. Can’t wait to see what’s next and to catch them on tour again!

 
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