After the death of their drummer and friend, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, nobody expected Avenged Sevenfold to continue making music. However, this summer the band released “Nightmare,” their fifth studio album.
Fans will notice that M. Shadows’ vocals aren’t nearly as nasal or whiny as in previous albums, but rather show a more aggressive and emotional tone. Also, the album tries to restore the band’s former sound by using heavier guitar riffs and even a bit of screaming, which Shadows hasn’t done since their second album, “Waking the Fallen.” As always, the band likes to experiment with new sounds; you can hear trumpets, marching bands, whispering, and even whistling, which I think many fans will enjoy.
“Nightmare” opens with the title track and an eerie xylophone that creates an uncomfortable feeling, and almost instantly kicks into pounding drums and fast, dark guitar riffs. The next few tracks are both heavy and catchy. “Welcome to the Family” will stick in your head for days, while “Danger Line” is dedicated to the American troops.
The first ballad,“So Far Away,” is written by guitarist Synyster Gates for his late friend, The Rev. The song features Zacky Vengeance on an acoustic guitar, clean vocals, and a climactic ending with strings and a guitar solo.
Nothing thus far prepared me for the next track. Titled “God Hates Us,” the song is easily one of the heaviest and most aggressive the band has written. It begins with a bit of a fake out, with a clean intro but then from nowhere kicks in with thunderous double bass, heavy guitars, and a lot of screaming from M. Shadows. The song will definitely appeal to a new audience as well as old fans.
At this point, the album’s focus changes from heavy and aggressive to emotional and slow. The next two songs, “Victim” and “Tonight the World Dies,” definitely slow the pace with some of the best ballads the band has created. “Tonight the World Dies,” will be a song most will overlook because it’s slow. The chorus and bridge have deep vocals and are climactic without the build-up you expect.
The next, “Fiction,” is easily the hardest to listen to, and for most fans will likely bring them to tears. This song was written by The Rev only three days before his passing and was originally titled “Death.” If that isn’t enough irony, the song is basically Sullivan saying his good-byes, with the last line, “I know you’ll find your own way, when I’m not with you tonight.” The song actually features Sullivan and Shadows on vocals, as well as a very dark and creepy piano.
The last song, “Save Me,” is the longest at almost 11 minutes. It includes just about every element the band has ever used, including dueling guitar solos, clean guitars, heavy riffs, catchy choruses, dark piano parts, and powerful lyrics. The album culminates with dynamic drum fills and the line “Tonight we all die young.”
Overall, I believe fans will enjoy “Nightmare” and might even find it better than some of Avenged Sevenfold’s previous work. “Nightmare” is worth the listen. New and old fans will enjoy listening front to back and will give Avenged Sevenfold the support they need to continue making music after the death of their friend.