Friday, July 23 2010 00:00


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99841Listening to AVENGED SEVENFOLD's NIGHTMARE, I can't help but think of the fabled story regarding AC/DC and their rebound from the death of original vocalist Bon Scott. It doesn't seem that long ago that I had to report the news that A7X drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan  had passed (it was last December on a different site), and already the world will get a new album from the band next Tuesday.

Like AC/DC when they released BACK IN BLACK a mere five months after replacing their vocalist, AVENGED SEVENFOLD just may have written the album of their career.

With DREAM THEATER's Mike Portnoy behind the kit, the band completed NIGHTMARE - an intense and emotional record that broods with darkness and musical discovery.

While the first single and title-track hooked listeners with a welcome back into the world of A7X, breaking into the mainstream-psyche with it's double-bass-backed choruses and pulsing verses assaulting the mind - NIGHTMARE moves well beyond typical "bat country."

"Welcome to the Family," "Danger Line," and "Buried Alive" are classic A7X, but what comes later is where the real surprise lies...

Like many of the great metal albums of all time, NIGHTMARE is a multi-faceted effort that strays from the purely heavy, bringing in melodic acoustic intros, piano, and layering them in a seamless fashion. Think of a songwriting style akin to MASTER/JUSTICE-era Metallica (or even some DREAM THEATER) and you're on the right track.

"So Far Away" finds the band in ballad territory, the wasteland where most heavy bands find themselves crashing and burning. Instead of finding failure, the band finds triumph - a beautiful song that echoes with sincerity

"God Hates Us" is epic, beginning and ending with the lonesome sound of a clean guitar ringing out in sorrow - wrapping around a brutal mid-section that features M. Shadows bringing a death metal growl into the choruses, with a lead guitar that would make Dimebag proud.

"Fiction" (originally titled "Death") is the last song that the departed Rev contributed to the album, an eerie, piano-driven piece that creates a lyrical parallel to his real life demise, with passages about "giving all I had to give," "resting my head," and topped off with the inclusion of the Rev's final performance as a vocalist and pianist.

Closing the album with "Save Me" gives NIGHTMARE a cinematic flavor, feeling like you've reached the end credits and can't wait to see what will happen in the sequel.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD have pulled off a feat less common than a no-hitter in baseball: a complete album that plays best when listened to in it's entirety from front to back with no filler whatsoever.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Reviewed from the standard edition, containing the 11 tracks as follows:

  1. Nightmare
  2. Welcome To The Family
  3. Danger Line
  4. Buried Alive
  5. Natural Born Killer
  6. So Far Away
  7. God Hates Us
  8. Victim
  9. Tonight The World Dies
  10. Fiction
  11. Save Me
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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