123 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
Format: Audio CD
On Christmas 2009, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan handed in a demo for a song he had written entitled "Death" and proclaimed, "That's it, that's the last song for this record." Three days later, the Avenged Sevenfold drummer was found in his home, dead from a lethal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. On Tuesday, A7X will release that record, now called Nightmare, which is not only the last physical recording of The Rev's legacy, but also his tribute.
Musically, Nightmare picks up where 2007's self titled release left off. The sonic maturation that A7X has shown on every disc continues not only instrumentally but also in the vocal timbre of singer M. Shadows. Long gone is the blood curdling screamer from Waking the Fallen; what remains in his stead is a hard rock voice with a strength and tone no less unique than the icons known only by one name: Ozzy. Halford. Dio. (Shadows? Perhaps, if A7X continues on the path they seem to be destined for.)
As Virgil led Dante through Hell, so Shadows leads us through the band's own descent into darkness, greeting us on the album opening title track, "Now your nightmare comes to life!" What follows is vintage Sevenfold: tight, syncopated guitars over a steady and churning rhythm section that veer off into chaotic but melodically fluid harmony guitar leads and blistering technical solos. Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance can arguably be called the greatest guitar duo since the turn of the century and certainly have earned the right to be named among such stalwarts as Downing/Tipton, Murray/Smith, and Degarmo/Wilton.
With such familiarity emanating from the speakers, it's easy to forget that The Rev isn't holding it all together, as he always had before. In his place is Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who along with the always capable Johnny Christ on bass make up the backbone of A7X on Nightmare and the subsequent tour. Considered by many (and also The Rev) to be one of the greatest living drummers in the world, Portnoy shows admirable restraint and respect for his late predecessor, remaining as true as possible to The Rev's written parts from the demo versions of the album's tracks. That's not to say his mark isn't on it however. "Natural Born Killer" is classic Portnoy with an extreme double bass section punctuated by his single signature splash hit. The rocker is also indicative of the album as a whole and most likely predictive of A7X's future.
While it starts out with an almost grindcore passage of metal brutality, "Natural Born Killer" is, for all intents and purposes, a hard rock song. And while also containing more than a few moments of metal brilliance, Nightmare is, in fact, very much a hard rock album. At this point it shouldn't really surprise anyone - the biggest stylistic change from metalcore to melodic metal happened between Waking the Fallen and City of Evil and all the "hardcore" fans who complained about the band "selling out" at that time are (hopefully) long gone. Since then, the band has continued to gradually evolve into what they are today.
Avenged Sevenfold haven't abandoned their roots though. Songs like "Buried Alive" and "God Hates Us" feature some Metallica inspired thrash that would make any metalhead proud. And these songs don't come off as bones thrown to older fans - they're very much a part of who A7X still is and probably, to some extent, always will be. But the majority of riffs and rhythms throughout Nightmare rely more on blues based progressions than ever before. A perfect example of this is "Tonight the World Dies," a dirty bayou blues rocker with some wicked slide guitar work reminiscent of a Louisiana voodoo version of STP's "Interstate Love Song."
There are a few missteps. "Danger Line" comes off as generic and uninspired and probably shouldn't have been programmed so high up in the track listing. The play-by-numbers metal ballad chorus of "Buried Alive" is a letdown after a wonderful opening filled with Zeppelin melancholy. And whoever mixed the album should be ashamed that Johnny Christ is buried so deep. But in the grand scheme of things, none of this matters.
The central and most important focus of Nightmare are the lyrics and the overarching theme of death as well as the guilt, bitterness, and doubt of those left behind. Equal parts diary and therapy, the album is unapologetically the bared soul of lives torn apart by The Rev's tragic ending. "Will you stay away forever? How will I live without the ones I love?" sings Shadows on "So Far Away," an intimate letter to The Rev; a song of all the things that remain unsaid, of the feelings that we all take for granted in our most precious relationships. It's heartbreaking - but not without hope as Shadows knows he will be reunited with his friend again admitting, "I'll see you...when He lets me."
It all culminates with the final song that The Rev turned in last Christmas, now called, "Fiction." Written before his death, the symphonic epic sends chills to hear the foreshadowing in The Rev's own words, "Left this life to set me free, took a piece of you inside of me. Now this hurt can finally fade, promise me you'll never be afraid." In the ultimate emotional turn, The Rev's own vocals were left in the recording and they are soul crushing as he sings, "I know you'll find your own way when I am not with you." His voice fades out and Shadows picks up his part, and his burden as the one left behind. The song is a masterpiece and the greatest gift The Rev could have left for us.
The album closes with Save Me, a perfect bookend to the album opener. Opening with a discordant instrumental symbolizing the attempted escape from the hour-long Nightmare, the song continues to chronicle the theme of being left behind and the pleas to join The Rev in the afterlife. The realization arrives that the "nightmare" of The Rev's passing may feel like a dream but they will inevitably awake into a reality where he is gone and nothing will bring him back. Although still angry and bitter, Shadows know he must go on alone and begs, "Help me find my way." And though he can't join his friend yet, he knows that they will always be connected as he repeats, "Tonight we all die young," until the album comes to its end.
For better or worse, Nightmare can only be judged in light of the tragic events that preceded it. Because of that, it's hard to critique an album where the listener transcends the musical experience to become a voyeuristic observer of the bands grief and recovery process. But while uncomfortable at times, it is ultimately hopeful, and needs to be recognized as not only an important addition to the A7X discography but also a powerful statement about losing the ones we love and living in the aftermath.
48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The central theme of Nightmare by Avenged Sevenfold is emotion. Certainly with the death of a fellow member of the band and a brother, the members of Avenged Sevenfold were swimming in an ocean of emotions. This album has remorse, confusion, and pure hate among other varied emotions that enable listeners to intake a small taste of the experience these talented individuals underwent.
Nightmare (5/5): The title and opening track of Nightmare begins your journey with a bang. This track starts off with a dreamy chime before blowing you away with Shadows screaming "nightmare" leading you into a high paced experienced. This track was well chosen as the leading single. It's very catchy and it isn't long before you're singing along learning of the bands nightmare that is about to unfold before you.
Welcome To The Family (5/5): This track is probably a future single and perhaps the most accessible song on the album. After a shout out to a "Waking the Fallen" instrumental intro Shadows jumps into the melody of this very catchy track. Like Nightmare this song is also set to prepare you for what's to come. It addresses the cacophony of emotions running rampant with their minds. We see that even the members of A7X aren't sure exactly what they are feeling it's a mixture of so many raw emotions, "When our thoughts are so numb and our feelings unsure
We all have emptiness inside, We all have answers to find, But you can't win this fight." Among the catchy melody and chorus is a blazing a solo and Shadows intermixing a growl/whisper tone to conclude this track
Danger Line (3/5): This song starts off with a marching band type drum progression, before jumping into a moderately high passed jam. I enjoyed this song, but it just didn't seem to fit into the concept of the album. It's well known that Avenged Sevenfold are big supporters of the men, women, and children affected by war and the lives of soldiers, which this song exemplifies. There is an interesting surprise towards the end of the song when the melody and pace slows to almost a ballad, highly contrasting with the fairly quick pace the song initially sets. As I said before this is a pretty decent stand alone song, but just doesn't flow or mesh with the rest of the album.
Buried Alive (5/5): This track begins with a long, slower paced Metallica-esk intro of guitar bliss before finally jumping into the initial melody of the song. Maintaining the Thrash ballad feel the song jumps into a powerful chorus that takes you a little bit by surprise the first time you hear it. This song has a groove about it early on that will leave you feeling relaxed and intrigued before it hits the blistering solo that synyster shreds out with technical perfection. Soon after the solo, however, the song takes an adrenaline pumping twist, pounding out heavy chords and a deep base. With that we get the first real taste of Shadows screaming since Waking the fallen, which left my jaw on the floor. Lyrically, through the progression, the concept of the album is continued. While using the tracks "Nightmare" and "Welcome to the Family" as a basis for the album, Buried Alive suggest the feelings the band felt after the initial shock wore off. Without Jimmy the band felt, as the title suggests, trapped and helpless. The progression of the song also leans towards the experience of claustrophobia. At first the trapped feeling is subtle and leaves you vulnerable, but if the feeling continues to linger it doesn't take long before the feeling detonates into an overwhelming flurry of pain, as if not only were they trapped and alone but suffocating in their own hell. The final lines of this song bring Avenged Sevenfold forward to an angry acceptance of what has happened to them this past year as Shadows bellows "THIS IS NOW YOUR LIFE, DIE BURIED ALIVE"
Natural Born Killer (5/5): This track will blow your mind away the first time you hear it. This track begins at a blistering speed and only lets up a little during the chorus just so you can process the instrumental inferno that just took place and will undoubtedly continue post chorus. What stood out to me on this song was the drumming. Portnoy did a great job filling in for The Rev, but it's still very obvious that it was in fact Portnoy doing the drumming on this album, while doing his best to keep The Rev's memory alive. This track, however, just screamed The Rev in every direction. If I didn't know it was Portnoy I would have thought Jimmy was able to leave this beat behind. To me, due to the drumming, this song is the most complete. It not only has a nostalgic feel about it, seeing as how it could be a love child of "Waking the Fallen" and "City of Evil," but also the fact that you can almost sense Jimmy behind the kit.
So Far Away (4/5): This song dismisses any intro and jumps into the emotional ride. The lyrics for this song were written by Synyster as his goodbye or just his feelings for The Rev. The song begins with a very straight forward verse, a guitar, and Shadows singing his words, that's about it. This song wasn't meant to be impressive really, it was just meant to help heal. Synyster opens his heart for this song describing who Jimmy was to him and how he's felt upon losing his best friend. Even though it probably wasn't meant to impress, parts of it still deserve notice. The solo in this song is simply gorgeous. Synyster begins with an acoustic medley following a slight pause before jumping into the sweet sound of steel. It's nowhere near his most complicated piece, but it speaks to the listeners without remorse, leaving a long lasting impression. While this song can be hard to listen to without tears welling up in your eyes, you'll find yourself wanting to experience this one over and over.
God Hates us (Holy **** 5/5): After So far away this track begins with a lighthearted intro meant to settle you in for the ride. Then out of nowhere this song jumps right out of the speakers drop kicks you in the face, beats you senselessly while you are down, and leaves you feeling entirely violated, yet somehow you enjoyed it. If there was any question as to whether Shadows would pull out some screams again, this track will solidify your belief. This is the hardest song I've heard from the band and it just devours you with raw emotion. Not only is this band hurt, but they are pissed. You can hear the anger and tears behind Shadows' words and it will drive you down the same path. This song will upset and offend some people while, taking the rest as its hostage of brilliance until this song comes to and lighthearted outro, leaving as subtly as it came.
Victim (5/5): This song begins with the chiming of what I would expect to be church bells and the choral female sounds influenced by Pink Floyd before transitioning into a very touching song. The feeling I got from this song was pure confusion. Avenged Sevenfold has vented some of their anger and beginning to accept what happened to them, but they still can't be sure. "And some say this can't be real, And I've lost my power to feel, tonight we are all just victims of a crime," the fairly catchy chorus sang by Shadows reveals that although they are accepting what has happened, they just don't know why. Why did this have to happen to their brother? Why did this have to happen to them? why did this have to happen to our fans? This track touched me unlike any other. We all do feel like something was taken from us, that there's really no just cause, and that it's something that we will never get back.
Tonight The World Dies (4/5): This song took me a while to warm up to, but it's actually a great piece in itself. This track continues the concept of the album with a blues influence to it. It remains blues oriented throughout rarely deviating from the somber feeling. This track illustrates that even with their loss they will continue to hold on, perhaps frozen in place with their emotions. Although the time moves on, they will live each day, perhaps feeling as if they could have done something to prevent this tragedy, but they know it's too late now. Even though time does continue to move their world has collapsed and they will never be the same. This song will probably only be appreciated by more hardcore fans. It's unlike anything Avenged Sevenfold has done in the past and true fans will understand the feelings and emotions behind it, but casual fans will probably be left unsatisfied.
Fiction (2.5/5 or 5/5): This song is what will be remembered as Jimmy's last legacy. It was originally entitled "Death" when Jimmy presented it mere days before his death. It was almost as if he knew his time was up and that he wanted us all to be ok without him. "Left this life to set me free, took a piece of you inside of me. All this hurt can finally fade ,promise me you'll never feel afraid." While listening to this song I was almost brought to tears. It's haunting hearing this song which is the only song to include Jimmy's vocals. The lyrics for this song are so appropriate considering the situation we are all in. Perhaps, with time, we can all learn to move on and celebrate his life properly, but for now we will continue to mourn. I gave this song two ratings, because of the perspective it can have. To hardcore A7X fans, this song is as much a blessing as it is a curse. We absorb as much of Jimmy as we can and this is a wonderful tribute to Jimmy's memory. To the casual fan, however, this song will not be satisfying. The gothic piano melody can be intoxicating, but as the band wanted it, the rest remained fairly untouched. The vocals from Jimmy were demos, though done very well, it's easy to think that they would be cleaner had Jimmy had the time to properly record them, especially during a few of the spoken parts where the quality is not what it could have been. Also, while the band could have probably altered this song with other instruments and melodic adjustments, they felt that would tarnish The Rev's memory. So for the hardcore fans this song is a masterpiece and something that will have a lasting effect on us. For the casual fan this song will just fade away as a memory of a song that just didn't seem finished.
Save Me (5/5): This song shows that perhaps Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater may have had a little bit of influence on Avenged Sevenfold much as they influenced him. This song is an epic progressive metal adventure with a catchy melody and haunting lyrics. This song moves through progression changes and melody shifts, with brilliant instrumental technicality over the 11min track. This track puts a wonderful conclusion to this concept album. The lyrics suggest that A7X knows they can't go back to a time where they can be with Jimmy again, but that's not to say they have seen the last of their fallen brother. In this song it sounds like the band is trying to speak directly to Jimmy hoping he can hear their plea. They wanted him to stay, but they want him to know that although they will walk this path without him that they will soon join their brother in internal life. As they march through the days alone, they are praying for the day when they can reunite with him once again. This song is a masterpiece, even those who are not huge fans can appreciate everything that went into making this song an epic journey.
Hardcore Fans: Album (9.3/10)
This album is an amazing treat for hardcore fans. The band said that it was not a concept album, but the album very much plays as a concept album directed at the loss of Jimmy. With everything that has happened in the A7X family this album hits every emotion and directs us through the bands journey. We should all be happy that we got an album at all, much less one of amazing quality and delivery.
Win: Fiction - Getting to hear the Rev's voice and brilliance one more time.
Fail: Danger Line - Not a horrible track, but didn't mesh with the rest of the album at all.
Casual Fans: Album (7.5/10)*as well as I can think about it objectively.
Casual fans will find great interest in the albums heavier tracks such as God Hates Us, Natural Born Killer, Nightmare, and Welcome to the Family, but the rest of the album may be lacking for them. This album has a much darker mood and a generally slower pace than Avenged Sevenfold's previous albums, leaving something to be desired from casual fans, who enjoyed the party rock of Beast and the Harlot and Bat Country.
Win: Welcome to the Family - A high paced, very catchy, thrilling song that will make just about everybody who enjoys music bounce with approval.
Fail: Fiction - This track just can't be appreciated if you don't understand the meaning behind the album.
One last thing, this review was simply my personal perspective of the meaning behind the songs and the album as whole.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have to admit that the only reason I bought this CD in the first place was because my favorite drummer, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), joined A7X for this album and tour, after the sudden death of The Rev. Well, now we all know that he quit his band of 25 years during the Uproar Festival, but I don't know if he plans on staying with these guys.
Anyways, Nightmare is a really good album from start to finish. It has a nice mixture of metal songs like Nightmare, Welcome To The Family, Natural Born Killer, and God Hates Us, while balancing itself with some mid-tempo rockers like the old school Metallica sounding Buried Alive. Most important of course, these guys can really play. The drumming is outstanding as expected, the vocals have enough variation to remain interesting, and the guitars, while heavy at times, keep the technical aspects on display with some nice harmonies and solos. I'm not usually into the more recent class of metal music, but Avenged Sevenfold has the talent to keep them going through another decade and beyond.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Going into this album, I had very high expectations for it being that I have been an Avenged Sevenfold since 2003, Waking the Fallen. I for one found their change to singing as a giant leap in the right direction. It of course didn't always work but did show thier maturity as a band. This album is nothing short of amazing. The first seven songs, with the exception of so far away, really set the mood for the album and are some of the heaviest songs avenged has done. My particular favorites from the first seven are Nightmare, Buried Alive, and Natural Born Killers. God Hates us sees a return to screaming, but done in a much closer style to Pantera and it is pulled off splendidly.
After song seven some folks will say that the album turns into a collection of ballads and that's where I disagree. Song 8 victim is just a phenomenal slow metal/hard rock jam. Tonight the world dies is the best song stone temple pilots never wrote, has a harder big empty feel. Song 10 Fiction is probably the strangest song on the album, my least favorite, but still a good haunting duet with piano, (shadows & the rev). Song 11 Save me is classic City of evil A7X 11 minutes long, thundering drums, and blistering guitars. Sensational way to end the CD.
I know that I am biased as I have been a fan for a long time, this album is truely right up there with this years greats. It is a return to City of evil style A7X, and a departure from the more straight forward rockers on the self titled album.
Also, to everyone that says this album only appeals to teenagers, that is simply not a true statement. I am 28 and have enjoyed them for years and not one bit of their subject matter is whiney or EMO. I also enjoy all the heavy metal regulars (lamb of god, pantera, mastodon, high on fire, etc.) The talent and sound of A7X just continues to draw me to their music more often than the screaming metal bands of today. Give the cd an open minded honest listen and you will not be disappointed. For fans of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns N Roses, basically any good singing metal/hard rock band.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Everyone knows the story -- Avenged Sevenfold has been mourning the loss of their talented drummer, The Rev, since 2009 came to a close and have used the tragedy to help fuel the fire that went into making their fifth studio album, Nightmare. And while it is beyond words to express sympathy for such a loss, it is admirable that the band stuck together to record and release this album. In doing so, A7X has devoted the ultimate tribute to a fallen soldier, whom the fans and music industry alike have grown to love. In the wake of such tragedy, we endure our "Nightmare"...
The title track is instantly recognizable as classic A7X -- grinding and complimentary guitar work, pulse-pounding drums, and powerful vocals. "Nightmare" is the band's strongest single since "Bat Country" and may be a catalyst to help bring back the attention of any old school fan led astray by the more mainstream self-titled album. "Welcome To The Family" is instantly catchy; you won't need repeat listens to get into this one and it'll be stuck in your head for days. "Danger Line" is slightly reminiscent of the band's self-titled album work -- formula-driven and poppy -- not the best, not the worst. "Buried Alive" is a solid epic track that begins with a Black-era Metallica tempo, before shifting into a heavier grind, actually reminiscent of an older Metallica vibe. You'll be listening to this one loudly and often.
"Natural Born Killer" is the juicy nugget that I'd hoped to hear -- it's heavy with a melodic chorus and the bridge/guitar solo in the middle of the track is nothing short of brilliant. This may not be the absolute highlight of the album, but it is easily top 3 material and will cement itself within any fan's A7X career highlight list. The album then moves into "So Far Away," a ballad that will evoke thoughts of City of Evil and more specifically, "Seize The Day." This track, along with "Victim," both remind me of the formula for the City of Evil track, each of which reprise and exit gracefully with strong emotion and lyrics. "Victim," as odd as it may sound, begins and ends with female vocals that for some reason, remind me of "Great Gig In The Sky," from Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. Maybe it's just me...
Sandwiched in between the two aforementioned ballads is "God Hates Us." All I can say is WOW...what a magnificent track! If you've heard the rumors that this is the heaviest thing they've done, well...I wouldn't go that far, but it is certainly the heaviest song they've recorded since Waking The Fallen. A7X channels a sound similar to that of Pantera's Far Beyond Driven years, with thrashing guitars and deep growling/screaming from Shadows. I guess if I'd have to pick a favorite, it would be this one; so much emotion is put into this song, as the band expresses their anger for the loss of their comrade.
The album winds down with a couple slower tracks, "Tonight The World Dies" and "Fiction," the latter of which was the last song written by The Rev. Originally written as "Death," the title was changed in his honor. What makes this song so eerie is the fact that it is the only one in which The Rev actually appears as vocalist, trading lines with Shadows as if he had foreseen the future tragedy that would eventually have him. It is easily the most challenging song to get through, not only because of The Rev's appearance, but also because it truly is a bizarre (yet beautiful) track. There are no guitars, but instead keyboards that serve substitute as musical elements. Those of you who are familiar with The Rev's side project, Pinkly Smooth, will find the song's texture familiar in tone.
The final track, "Save Me," is an epic track that nearly breaks the 11-minute mark, but with abounding solo work and heartfelt vocals, who can tell? Overall, Nightmare is slightly and understandably somber in tone, but does find a nice dynamic balance to help offer up their most complete album since City of Evil (and to some, Waking The Fallen). Nightmare was designed to be played from start to finish, to honor one of the greatest drummer's of our time and possibly of all-time. Mike Portnoy's work helps bring out the complexities of The Rev's percussion orchestration, but it is truly difficult to accept the fact that after this point in time, if the band chooses to remain together as A7X, they will be forced to press on without the aid of The Rev.
R.I.P. James "The Rev" Sullivan (1981-2009)
Highlights: Nightmare, Welcome To The Family, Buried Alive, Natural Born Killer, God Hates Us, Fiction (solely for the inclusion of The Rev)
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
This album is pretty incredible, achieving greatness on many different levels...
Musically... the songs are well constructed, interesting in both lyrical content as well as progression and instrumentation throughout.
Feel... the dark nature of the material goes well with the obvious pervading presence (or lack) of The Rev.... COE had amazing feel and they lacked a bit on their last release (just my opinion), but this album is packed with gut wrenching emotion.
Guitars... I'm beginning to get that feeling where I think they can do pretty much anything their imagination comes up with... only the very best fall into that category, and these guys are knocking on that door... in spots it's like the guitars just fill in the sonic space with, you get the impression, of exactly what some maestro was imaging... beautiful work here!
Most of the songs are typical of recent A7X offerings: slightly more progressive/metal and less thrash/grind, which some fans like and others don't... but a few songs pack an extra punch based on knowledge of the band's loss of the Rev: So Far Away; Fiction; and the final track. In particular Fiction is pure haunting, with the band using the Rev's own scratch track vocals (with Shadows harmonizing most of the way). A piano line in this song fits very well with the haunting: I had goose bumps on first listen. If they do this song well live, there won't be a dry eye in the arena...
Mike Portnoy... deserves special mention in any review - he amazingly channels the Rev to a T. Only occasionally can you tell it's Mike, and that's only when he's really working the cymbals as only he can, and perhaps on an especially blistering run towards the end of the final track... mostly though he does just as you'd expect to hear done on an A7X album. I'd really like to see them live just to witness Portnoy playing some of their back catalog... another notch in Portnoy's long list of mind-boggling achievements.
Depth... finally, as with all truly great albums, this album will require many, many listenings to really settle in.
(PS... who are these people who don't like the song "Danger Line"? Cool tune if you ask me.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2012
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I have been a fan of Metal for the last 30 years. Some of what I used to listen to still does it for me, and some hasn't aged all that well. On the flipside, I've really been amazed by some of the new metal acts that have come along in the last decade or so and others just leave me kinda cold. Whatever it is the A7X has that a lot of metal acts don't, I know I absolutely love it. The tight guitar lines, awesome melodic metal riffs, astounding vocals, interesting musical arrangements of this record all add up to one brilliant package in my view. Nary a week goes by that I don't spin it off from beginning to end, much to my wife's chagrin! An easy 5 star rating as far as I'm concerned.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Okay they dress like douches but then if I judged some of the bands I grew up with by what they wore... Well I'd never have gotten in to Metal would I? It should be all about the music, shouldn't it?
Avenged sound to me like Iron Maiden and Metallica had a forbidden love child together. That's not a bad thing in this day and age of everyone trying so desperately to recapture the sound of Nirvana or Korn or Alice In Chains and failing miserably at it.
Why did I want to hate them other than their image? Well they stole Overkill's logo and that is just NOT COOL! You don't DO that! They didn't steal Eddie from Maiden or Rattlehead from Megadeth but Chaly is still relatively well known even by people who don't like Overkill... Not Qool!
Anyway, the thing that sucked me in is the music. Specifically the song Buried Alive. It was on the radio and I wasn't paying much attention until it got past the solo and the next bit of music was just so freaking kewl I headbanged despite myself! Its awesome!! So I looked up some other Nightmare songs online and listened and really liked them. I don't know what they were doing before now, but this album is the shiznit!! I've bought it that week and have listened to it a dozen times since. Its worth giving them a second look if they turned you off before, they've outdone themselves on this one!
After I got the album I did some looking into the band and found out about the dead drummer and it only makes the song Fiction all the more powerful knowing it was that kid's swan song. A more brilliant piece of piano metal would be hard to find.
So that's my experience of AVX for ya. Now I'm debating on getting the earlier records based on this one's wow factor. Looking at the negative reactions some have to this band I'm also glad my nephew's generation has its own GNR! LOL
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is a mini memoir of my listening experience with A7X and a track by track guide to their latest album, Nightmare. This is less of a Nightmare review and more of a review of A7X as a whole.
I think like most people, growing up my music tastes were heavily influenced by my father. He would have his Q 104.3 classic rock on every day in the car, not to mention the fact that he is the kind of guy who can listen to the same Ozzy CD for months at a time. So growing up I would love my ozzy, metallica, zeppelin, all that good stuff. But it also left me intolerant of anything that wasn't classic rock. I hated rap, which I still hate for the most part, I hated pop (but that's because its garbage anyway) and for the matter I basically couldn't stand any of the mainstream trash that came out. But I also had a hard time being able to handle any form of hardcore music. As soon as I heard screaming id tell my brother to shut that trash off. Then again he was also a slipknot fan so it wasn't as if he was listening to "good" hard music.
Then I heard something that changed my whole view on metalcore/heavy metal/punk etc. It was sensational guitar work and then the words "The wind of life and air from above smells of death/Angels sing of the end/There's nothing you say and nothing you try can change time/Human race prepares to die". What beauty.
So I knew from there that Avenged Sevenfold were something special. I listened to Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. It took me a little while to get used to the screaming but in the end I thought the album was very good, especially We Come out at Night, Lips of Deceit, Warmness on the Soul, Turn the Other Way, and obviously, To End the Rapture. However it wasn't perfect. I thought the arrangements were all over the place, the vocals were good but not great and the guitar work had something left to be desired. But I respected the fact the guys were still in high school when the album was made and I learned later that Syn Gates' only performance on the album was the song that changed my world; couldn't be a coincidence right? So I was excited to listen to Waking the Fallen.
I have always been able to form two words to describe Waking the Fallen: masterpiece and perfection. It was the perfect mixture of every genre of rock. Think Metallica gone Iron Maiden, gone Shadows Fall, gone AFI, gone Slayer, gone Dream Theatre (foreshadowing anyone?). With proper management and proper production in Andrew Murdock the band seemed to take the leap from talented visionaries to true musicians. On this album they produced songs that get your blood flowing like Unholy Confessions, Eternal Rest and Chapter Four, to songs that make you just say "Wow" like I Won't See You Tonight (especially Part 1), to what's possibly my favorite song ever Second Heartbeat, which to me is simply THE perfect song. I'd since expanded my music tastes but Waking the Fallen solidified my position as a genuine Avenged Sevenfold fan.
Being blown away by the greatness of Waking the Fallen I was obviously pumped to get my hands on City of Evil, and after listening to it from beginning to end, I expressed my jubilation with a GREAT BIG... ehh. The album was a huge disappointment. Maybe on its own it can stand as a quality record, and I understand Matt wanted a change, but I'm sorry: you cannot release an album like Waking the Fallen and then abandon everything. At the very least, ease into it; don't forget who you are completely in the matter of 1 album, and what was even worse than their in-studio changes was the fact they stopped performing their old songs (at least the way god intended) live. Changing your music after it was so great is bad enough, but do NOT perform Second Heartbeat without screaming; it's wrong and pathetic, and that's coming from a fan. The one positive that came out of the album was the addition of Johnny Christ, who over time has grown into an extremely talented bassist, and there were good songs including Bat Country, Seize the Day, and MIA.
Their self-titled album was still disappointing, but it wasn't as bad as City. It featured to-be-expected good work by Matt, Zacky, Brian, and Jimmy (and featuring a grand return for vocal performing for him) with Johnny Christ really coming into his own as a bassist. Critical Acclaim, Afterlife, Almost Easy, and A Little Piece of Heaven were very good songs. Beyond that, everything was experimental, and there is no reason for that talented a band to experiment, especially the way they did. Branching into other forms of rock is okay, but not hip hop, pop and country; what are you doing? It was still a step up.
Buying Live in the LBC/Diamond in the Rough improved my hope. Diamond in the Rough was a good EP, in fact there were a few songs like Crossroads and Demons that had no business not making the self-titled. But it was their live DVD that was fantastic. I always knew they were great live but... shadows screamed. YES! Hope! Real Hope! Although their version of Second Heartbeat was still a little bootlegged, it was a start.
So not long after Live in the LBC was released, details about an A7X concept album began circulating around. My one complaint about this is that like the previous 2 albums it seemed that this album would not be truly emotional, just an analysis of the world, because it's not like any band has done that before: besides the Resistance, a step down for Muse (a great band), oh and that disasterpiece 21st century Breakdown, AND Linkin Park's new "album" (aka my newest Frisbee/drink coaster) and basically every mainstream crap rock album on Earth. I mean, Waking the Fallen had some very emotional moments, especially with the I Won't See You Tonights. I hoped they would have some emotional influence for the record. But, as people say, be careful what you wish for.
On December 28 -my birthday of all days- the band lost its greatest musician, Jimmy Sullivan. There have been four times in my life that I have cried: when my dog died when I was like 5, 9-11, my grandmother's passing 6 years ago, and when I heard on the band's official site that Jimmy Sullivan passed. Although it was his own fault (and as human beings nobody, no matter how large or small an A7X fan, should deny that it was his fault) it was a very sad moment, very sad. Happy birthday indeed. Besides being a great musician, he seemed to be a fun and beloved guy, and I will always fondly remember "Grapes in the mouth", and the size of that F****** duck!
Despite the heartbreak that was the Rev's passing, it left me curious about where the band would go and how the Revs idol, the legendary Mike Portnoy would do in his place. Besides Nightmare and Buried Alive, I made the effort to keep myself in the dark about the album. So with a fresh and eager mind, I received the album on its release date and took a listen.
Nightmare Track by Track Review
A nice hard hitting song to kick off the album. Eerie intro leads into some absolutely sensational drum work. Vocals are great, guitars awesome.
Welcome to the family: 3/5
This song has been met with a little criticism. It's catchy but hard hitting at the same time. It is basically a City of Evil paced, MIA-esque song, but it's better than basically better than anything you'll hear on city of evil. Very good song, and although it is pretty cliché, it will catch you chanting "YOU CANT WIN THIS FIGHT!" Not their best, not their worst. It is an unmemorable but good song.
Danger Line: 3/5
It's pretty generic but it's not bad. Most fans treat this as the worst song on the album, I agree. Its message is about the effects of the war on women and children, it's a definite remain from their concept album.
Buried Alive: 4/5
A great song, very similar to One by Metallica. Starts off slowly and emotionally and escalated big time. Its dark mysterious and it features lyrical screaming by shadows for the first time in a while, unless u count the two seconds of screaming in Crossroads, which I don't because it was an album reject they never perform live. This is definitely a remain of the concept album, but it can definitely be applied to Jimmy, the feeling of being trapped in an unforgiving world.
Natural Born Killer: 5/5
Fast paced, hard, and all kinds of awesome. It's basically City of Evil on steroids. MP in particular really shines on this. If these arrangements were written by Jimmy it means that he was set to really break through as an elite drummer, and it truly does sound like Jimmy, just Jimmy to the next level. If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it is that MP was all kinds of perfect being respectful and true to Jimmy.
So Far Away: 5/5
No we're past what was left of the planned concept album, and we are in to the Jimmy section. It is kicked off with the first song lyrically written by Synyster Gates, who knew Rev longer than anybody else in the band. It starts out simply but powerfully, sort of one man, one guitar and escalates brilliantly at the end, with Shads whipping out one of his most beautiful vocal performances. Although on its own it may not stand as a truly elite song, the lyrics "Will you stay?/Will you stay away forever?/... I have so much to say but you're so far away." I could do nothing but wipe a tear and say "wow".
God Hates Us: 78/5
No typo, no exaggeration, it's a freaking 78/5! The best song they released in 7 long, grueling years. And it is not all about the screaming (although it has a heck of a lot to do with it). So Far Away puts you in a slow and somber mood and it flows perfectly into the soft intro of this song. Then suddenly you get hit with a wave of intense insanely paced brutal instrumentals. I caught myself thinking "how will they manage to blow this opportunity to make a great hard song?" but they never blew it. I heard Shadows in Sounding the Seventh Trumpet style scream "TOTAL NIGHTMARE", and I... well the Lonely Island has a song that explained what happened. Yes that's a lonely Island reference on an A7X review, a nearly impossible feat. It's hard, it's brutal, it never lets up. But it is also meaningful and flat out beautiful.
Brian took his turn in So Far Away to write beautiful somber lyrics, here is Matt's turn. Matt is referring to Jimmy's passing as a crime that we have all fallen victim to. At the end of the song he repeats the line "I'm missing you" so emotionally that you begin to reflect on what the band must have gone through throughout this process. I mean this band is not the story of one man deciding he wanted a band and went out recruiting. These are childhood friends. Mat and Jimmy were linked through mutual friend Brian; Zacky was Matt's best friend and the two and Jimmy (briefly) were part of a band called Successful Failure before Avenged Sevenfold; Jimmy and Brian were both in Pinkly Smooth and another member of Pinkly Smooth's (and mutual friend of the band) drug habit was the influence for I Won't See You Tonight. This isn't only a music band, it's a band of brothers and they lost one of their own. It really puts things in perspective. Have you ever heard of a song that can make you think as much as I just did. Well in a few lines, this thing of beauty did just that.
Tonight the World Dies: 4/5
This is one of the sons that I can't place why I like so much. It's kind of like A Little Piece of Heaven in the sense that it is very different than their other songs yet still very good. Its difference to the rest of their work isn't as profound as A Little Piece of Heaven and it isn't as good as A Little Piece of Heaven, but it is a very good songin its own right. It is a nice mixture of blues and rock, a touching tune about how it is too late to change the things that have happened and how their lives are foREVer changed.
If this song was on the self-titled id probably give it a 2/5 but in light of the circumstances and the story behind it, it earns its 5 and then some. This song plays more like a suicide note than a song, boasting dark and beautiful vocals from beyond. "Now I think I understand how this world can overcome a man/Like a friend we saw it through/In the end I gave my life for you/... I hope it's worth it, what's left behind me/ I know you'll find your own way, when I'm not with you tonight". Coming from the mouth of the Rev himself, this song will likely be implanted in my mind foREVer. Perhaps most fitting of all, this song plays much more like a Pinkly Smooth song than an Avenged Sevenfold song, giving us the feeling that we made a full circle right to the end. This song was called the worst song on the album by multiple critics. Maybe quality wise, but anybody who truly believes this is the worst either doesn't understand the meaning behind it or they flat out don't have souls.
Save Me: 5/5
At the end of this epic 11 minute song, Matt repeatedly proclaims: "Tonight we all die young". Avenged Sevenfold was spiritually bound to Jimmy. Avenged sevenfold is a family and those who call themselves fans are part of that family. Part of them and part of us died with James Sullivan: tonight we all have died young. This song is a fantastic send off to Jimmy and a great proclamation of their moving forward without forgetting.
Overall (obviously counting God Hates us as 5/5, which doesn't do it justice): 49/55 = 4.45/5
A great album, their best by far since Waking the Fallen, which is still their masterpiece. The perfect tribute to Jimmy, and MP did a great job. I only have more respect for him now
As of now:
1) Waking the Fallen (5/5)
2) Nightmare (4/5)
3) (Edit 8/27/13) Hail to the King (3.5/5)
3) Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (3.5/5)
4) Avenged Sevenfold (3/5)
5) City of Evil (2.5/5)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD
December 28th, 2009. Every A7X fan knows the significance. The saddest day imaginable in the bands history and also for it's fan base. It seemed unreal. Unbelievable. But after the shock, there was no stopping having to accept the inevitable. The Rev was gone. And who knew what would happen next.
However, A7X having just written a new record with Jimmy "the rev" Sullivan, they felt it would be an insult to Jimmy not to go on and at least put out the record. A tribute to his memory, to his genius, to the man he was. "Nightmare" is what we got.
Nightmare originally was designed to be a concept album. To take the listener on a wild ride through the depths of hell and death. But after the death of Jimmy, it proved to become a totally different animal. Only this new design seems to express solely the bands heartbreak at the loss of their brother. Every song seems to either allude to, or completely confront the passing of Jimmy.
For this reason alone, A7X deserves praise. Finding a way to forge ahead and make a record written in great part by Jimmy, without him behind the drum set for the first time is amazing in itself. The music that follows, is even more amazing.
The title track and first single is classic A7X in every way. It is obvious that this song would have set the tone for the concept album tracking. But either way, its an outstanding song.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY 4/5
Has a good grind to it. M. Shadows begins to show just how much he continues to improve his vocals.
DANGER LINE 3/5
It's a decent song, but does not seem to mesh well with the rest of the album.
BURIED ALIVE 5/5
This is where it starts to get interesting. The first song to me that begins to address the loss of Jimmy. Midway through it starts sounding like something on "Death Magnetic".
NATURAL BORN KILLER 5/5
Amazing song. The speed and precision on this song is something rarely seen from A7X before. Shadows vocals continue to impress. The drumming of Mike Portnoy should be much appreciated.
SO FAR AWAY 4/5
Sounds a little bit like a country song, so it is pretty cool.
GOD HATES US 5/5
Straight up ass kicker. Great riffs after the intro. Shadows growls like he never has before.
Okay, this is where the record goes from amazing, to mindblowing for me. It begins with a Bullet for my Valentine type guitar intro, to angelic vocal solos, to Shadows ballady serenade. This song is where Shadows just pulls out all the stops and throws his feelings out there. To be honest, this song brought me to tears, because it honestly feels like and open letter from Shadows to Jimmy. His vocals are pristine, perfect, and probably the most impressive he has ever done. You could call this song the "seize the day" of the record. Great guitar solos and great all around. Shadows ends with repeating the plea "im missing you, im missing you". Bone chilling.
TONIGHT THE WORLD DIES 2/5
The only song that didn't do much for me. Just a personal opinion though.
This song.. wow, where do I begin? This was the last song that Jimmy turned in for the record. He turned it in on Christmas Day 2009 saying, okay guys this is it, this is the last song. 3 days later, he died. Who knew that this song would seemingly forecast his own death. It's like he knew he didn't have much time left, and he was saying goodbye. The lyrics clearly relate Jimmy saying goodbye and letting everyone know that it would be okay to move on without him. A wonderful piano riff to begin the song. The coolest, and also most heart breaking part of the song is where Jimmy's demo vocals are included before a couple of choruses. This also brought me to tears, but at least it is a way for the listener to have one last experience with Jimmy. One more way his music touches us very deeply. Yes, this was definitely his masterpiece. I'd say, it is one of the most amazing and special songs ever written. I want to give it a 1/5 because, it means that Jimmy is really gone. But, being as how that is not fair and the song is so amazing, I give it a 13..
SAVE ME 5/5
Just listen to it. Great end to a wonderful album.
All in all, This is A7X best work to date. They took an unspeakable tragedy and made something beautiful out of it. The Rev is probably in heaven jamming out to his opus as we speak. This record is Use Your Illusion 3 if there was such a thing. This is what Axl Rose probably was shooting for when he wanted to make Chinese Democracy, but he just isn't good enough. Avenged Sevenfold at this moment after this work, is the greatest band in the world. Will they remain that? Their future is uncertain, I doubt they even know what the future holds. But the important thing is, they are now.. and their brother would be very proud of them. If this is indeed the last record, what a way to finish..