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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
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