Review Summary: The perfect way to say goodbye.11 of 32 thought this review was well written
Saying that the members of Avenged Sevenfold have had a rough last 7 months would be an understatement. On December 28, 2009 Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan passed at the age of 28 in his sleep due to the combined effects of prescription anxiety medication and alcohol. Many questioned whether or not A7X would continue touring and writing as a band, and at first they were going to disband.. but the band (Jimmy included) had just finished writing a new record, and that made them want to at least put this record out for the fans, and tour it because it had songs that Jimmy had written. Mike Portnoy, from Dream Theater, was Jimmy's biggest influence, and all time favorite drummer, and he happily accepted the request that he record the drum parts for the band's 5th full length album, Nightmare
Now, I think we can all agree that the bands last Self Titled studio album was nothing more than average. The entire album was based around experimenting with different styles of music, and lacked the instrumentation that A7X was so good at. There were many inquires surrounding Nightmare
, one of which was whether or not it would make up for what the Self Titled album lacked, which was the ridiculously long songs that had a million different parts and guitar solos, and just something... SOMETHING that would remind A7X fans of the magic they had made when they released Waking the Fallen
in 2003. Whether it's the thrash influence God Hates Us, or the haunting Fiction, the answer to this question is without a doubt, Yes
Usually, I wouldn't do a track-by-track review of any album, but I feel with Nightmare
it is necessary to analyze each song.
- This was the first single released. This song starts off with an xylophone playing, and it progresses into a Raining Blood-ish type intro, which then goes into a Critical Acclaim sounding verse. The chorus of this song is infectiously catchy, and it ends with the instruments halting and Shadows singing "It's your ***ing nightmare." The solo of this song is nothing spectacular, but it fits with the song very well. This was supposed to be the first song of what was originally supposed to be a concept album, and the lyrics tell the story of someone trapped in, well... their nightmare. This song drags on a little more than it should, and the "Now your nightmare comes to life" is kind of annoying and unnecessary, but i rate it a 4/5.
Welcome to the Family
- This song kicks off with a drum fill by Portnoy into a riff that carries on throughout the song. This is one of the vocal highlights of the album, and this is another song where the chorus is what makes it as good as it is. This song is the shortest on the album, clocking in at 4:06, and it sounds like it would fit in anywhere on City of Evil
. The guitar solo is much better than the one on the song Nightmare, and I can easily see it being the next single. The song ends with whispered vocals mixed with an intense guitar riff with double bass drums. I also rate it a 4/5.
- Now this song took me a couple of listens to warm up to, but now I'm hooked to it. This song tells the story of a man in the army, and the music fits perfectly with the lyrics. It starts off with snare and rhythm guitar playing triplets, and progresses into a fast paced intro that sounds like it could be Burn It Down part 2. The verse is just drums, rhythm guitar, and vocals. This is another vocal highlight of the album, and I think one of the best songs on the album. The chorus is ridiculously catchy, and the rhythm guitar in the verses fits in perfectly with the low octave, soft vocals. After the second chorus, there is a very emotional piano breakdown, where Shadows' vocals sound like he's choking back tears. The song ends with a fading snare solo by Portnoy. 4.5/5.
- This was the second song that was released by A7X, and it also took me a few listens to warm up to. The intro of this song is very well written, and is undoubtedly very Metallica influenced. The verses of the songs sound like something off of Death Magnetic, and the chorus is very powerful. It only has 2 choruses, and after the second one the song picks up pace into a very well written duel guitar solo that, again, has a lot of Metallica influence. This song would be one of the best songs easily, but then they just HAD to add more to it. The "heavy" part of this song is nothing more than annoying and unnecessary. It would have been so much better off if they would have cut off the "heavy" part, and added another chorus. It also would have given me a much better first impression, had it not been put with that cheesy lyric video with the skulls headbanging. 4/5.
Natural Born Killer
- If you liked the fast paced intro of Eternal Rest, you'll like this song, or atleast the intro. This is one of the heaviest songs on the album, and one of the drumming highlights. The drumming is genius, the riffs are very griding, and the vocals are surprisingly fitting. I don't really understand the lyrics, but then again they haven't been officially released. This song sounds like it was heavily influenced by the legendary Master of Puppets
album, and the riff that goes throughout the song is extremely heavy. The verse is very likeable and catchy, and the chorus is soft and very fitting. 4.5/5.
So Far Away
- I have mixed feelings about this song. It starts off very similarly to Seize the Day, with no instrument intro, just Shadows' vocals on top of an acoustic guitar. The lyrics were written by Synyster Gates, and this song features acoustic guitar playing by his father, Brian Haner(AKA Guitar Guy). The first half of this song is, there's no better word to describe it, meh. The chorus is somewhat catchy, but the lyrics of this song don't fit in well with the way Shadows is singing it at all. He sings in a low octave the whole time, and he doesn't go up in pitch until the second part of the song. This song doesn't get good until the acoustic guitar solo starts, and Synyster Gates and his father are the only 2 people playing. This would easily be the worst song on the album, had it not been for the second half of the song and the lyrics. 3.5/5.
God Hates Us
- It's hard to put how much I love this song into words, so I'll try to explain it best I can. This is the best song they've written in 7 years, and is even better than most of Waking the Fallen. This is unlike anything they've ever done before, and is the obvious highlight of the last 2 albums for A7X. Even A7X haters could possibly get into this song. The vocals sound as if Shadows has been practicing his scream since Waking the Fallen
, and saving it for this one song. I could've never imagined Shadows ever producing such a sound as he does in this song. This song starts off with a beautifully harmonized clean guitar intro, and then sweeps you off your feet with one of the heaviest riffs they've ever made. "TOTAL NIGHTMARE!" he shrieks in the verses, with so much anger and emotion that it's jaw-dropping, and that turns into "You wanna hear my side? You need to drown to know." in the best form of clean vocals he has ever spoken. That eventually turns into "GOD HATES US ALL!" in the chorus. There is a breakdown with just him, Portnoy, and Vengeance, and it's very Sounding the Seventh Trumpet
sounding. The question for me is WHY IN THE HELL CAN'T HE DO VOCALS LIKE THIS IN EVERY SONG? This is easily his best vocal performance since, well... anything. This song is an angry, instrumental and vocal masterpiece, and like I said before, the best song on this CD without a doubt. 5/5.
- This song sounds like the type of song you would hear in a sad movie when the main character is coping with grief. The intro of this song is beautiful, and there are guest female singer harmonized with a very soothing guitar intro on top of church bells, at the beginning and at the end. This is another highlight of the album, and unless you consider Fiction a ballad, this is easily the best ballad on the album. The vocals are very well sung, and the lyrics are heartbreaking. This sounds like it could be an I Won't See You Tonight Part 3, and i would have not been surprised if it would have been given that name. The guitar solo is my favorite guitar solo on the album, and it's one of the best since The Wicked End on City of Evil
Tonight the World Dies
- I'm not going to go into much detail about this song, because it is my least favorite on this CD, and possibly one of my all time least favorites. It sounds like an Audioslave song, and the vocals are just plain annoying. The only decent part of this song are the lyrics. 2.5/5.
- ... And we've reached the highest anticipated song of the album. The story behind this song is eerie and haunting, much like the song itself. This was the last song Jimmy wrote before he died. He called it his "masterpiece" and he wrote every part of it. It was originally titled "Death" and the lyrics are basically him prophesizing his own death, and how the band should cope with him after he's gone. He handed it in 3 days before he died. It's also the only song where they were able to capture his vocals before he died. This song features no guitar, just stringed instruments, piano, drums, and the harmonizing vocals of Shadows and Jimmy. It's eerie, and extremely haunting, and beautiful yet depressing. I didn't realize the magnitude of his death until I heard this song. His vocals alone are beautiful, and his harmonized vocals with Shadows are also extremely beautiful. "I hope you can find your way when I'm not with you" he sings towards the end of the song. This is up there with God Hates Us as my favorite song on the album. This song will go down in history as one of A7X's all time best songs, and this shows what a talented songwriter and musician that the world lost on December 28. 5/5.
- This is the longest song on the album, clocking in at 10:56. This song is very Dream Theater influenced, and is the best song instrumentally on the CD. This song starts off with just Bass and China cymbals, and then progresses into 11 minutes of crazy instrumentals and guitar solos. This song is the best in terms of drumming, and Portnoy just goes insane in it. The drumming is flawless, the guitars are insane, the chorus is ridiculously catchy, and the vocals are superb. They need to make more songs like this, because this shows what they are capable of in terms of instrumentation. This could easily fit in on either Waking the Fallen or City of Evil, and it would still be amazing on either album. This song ends with a double bass/rhythm guitar duo similar to something you would hear on Waking the Fallen. 5/5.
This album is such a huge step up from their last effort, it's ridiculous. This is the best thing they have released since Waking the Fallen, and is a perfect way to say goodbye to their best friend and drummer. For me, this album is between a 4.5 and a 5, and is great for anyone grieving over the loss of a loved one. It took me a few listens to warm up to some of the songs, and I encourage multiple listens to songs before giving a final judgement of them. Portnoy did an amazing job laying down the parts Jimmy wrote, and the guitarists did an amazing job showing what they are capable of with their griding riffs, and fast shredding guitar solos. Johnny Christ is heard A LOT throughout the album, and I honestly don't know very much about bass guitar, but what he does fits very well with the other instruments playing. Shadows' has some career highlights on this album, and he has proved yet again that he can write a damn well catchy chorus.
REST IN PEACE JIMMY.