Review Summary: May not be the best album of their career but nightmare serves well in remembering The Rev and delivering an album that has something for every fan of the band
When James “The Rev” Sullivan passed away in December, Avenged Sevenfolds future seemed somewhat in question; the band had maintained a constant lineup through 3 albums since 2003. On the past few albums the band had lightened there sound and experimented more with other genres, and even then Sullivan always seemed to be a true heavy metal drummer at heart with his hard pounding sticks and ferocious double bass. At the time of his passing the band had reportedly been working on a follow up to their inconsistent and over bloated self-titled album and well 7 months later it has arrived in the form of Nightmare. 11 tracks and 67 minutes of the band and fill in drummer, Mike Portnoy of Dream theatre fame, dedicating there art to their beloved friend and drummer, and in the end the album not only feels very heartfelt but also just seems to make sense. Throughout the album the band draws tricks from their past albums and it adds up to an album that pretty well sums up there career thus far, weather that is good or bad is argumentative, the album does seem inconsistent at times, but somehow it seems focused at the same time because it feels dedicated towards The Rev. Overall the album offers almost everything one could want in an avenged sevenfold album.
Avenged Sevenfolds last album, there self-titled, was a muddled affair that was weighed down by the band being too adventurous incorporating outrageous elements and genres that made the album seem downright silly and the music often felt uninspired. While the bands curiosity and experimentation has mellowed out, they still at times let loose and add other genres of music ,(See Title track, Danger line, & victim), which sounds awkward most of the time and rarely builds on song structure or add much depth to the music. So sad to say that these silly outburst do ruin some of the potentially good songs on Nightmare, prime example being the song victim which could’ve been a decent rock epic had it not been for the extremely out of place female vocals towards the end.
Waking The Fallen & City of evil found the group stretching their songs to progressive lengths and showing of their mad skills as musicians and that element can very much be found here,(Buried alive & Save me), the latter of which is the bands first attempt at exceeding the 10 minute mark and they do well by pulling it off and not making it seem overdone. The Guitars are strong throughout and the bass is even audible at times. As for Mike Portnoy he does a solid job throughout the album on drums but doesn’t have many moments of mind blowing playing but is still good, although by the end it just seems that hes a fill in for this album and the following tour rather than a full time replacement. So Avenged Sevenfolds good musicianship stays in tack like always even through the weaker moments on the album.
Another aspect of the band that has always been noticeable is there ability at making wimpy, beautiful ballads that have often deal with failed relationships, well on Nightmare they produce numerous ballads,( So Far Away, Tonight the world dies, & Fiction). Tonight the world dies ends up being a failed experiment while So Far Away proves to be a text book avenged sevenfold ballad and fiction is probably the most heartfelt song in the bands catalog with its beautiful piano and heartfelt lyrics, supposedly written by the rev just days before his untimely death.
Now Nightmare may have its positives but not without its negatives, like mentioned earlier the album can be a bit inconsistent at times and does lack focus in some places. Also the band still has the tendency of ruining songs with outrageous experimentation, something that plagued there last album, but here it’s more tolerable because the they actually sound inspired where as there last album lacked inspiration and focus. So Overall Nightmare is a flawed album that is a bit too ambitious and by most standards way to long, even though it’s short by the bands standards, it actually turns out being a heartfelt and necessary album for them that has something to offer every fan of the band. As it stands the album doesn’t hold up as well as Waking the fallen or city of evil or even sounding the seventh trumpet but it is a solid release that, at this point, represents everything the band has to offer, which makes the album worth having.