Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

To say it hasn’t been an easy ride for Avenged Sevenfold since the release of their self-titled album back in 2007 would be a massive understatement. It was about a year ago that Huntington Beach’s finest began to write their fifth album. But tragedy struck them, when a mere two weeks before they were due to enter the studio to begin recording, the life of drummer and founding member Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan ended suddenly on the 28th December. The four surviving members - vocalist M Shadows, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance along with bassist Johnny Christ were left devastated. And they were not only mourning the loss of their much-loved bandmate, friend and brother, but they were left to pick up the pieces. Decide where to go and what to do next. After much agonising over whether or not to continue without their friend they decided that the least they could do was pay tribute to The Rev, by releasing the album they had all written together. The last music The Rev ever created. And with The Rev’s favourite drummer, Dream Theatre’s Mike Portnoy coming to the aid of the band by recording drum tracks that The Rev had already written, the setting was set for an epic album. And while it may be that, it is also an emotional roller coaster.
The opening track, the title track, ‘Nightmare’ is a scorcher of a song. Combining gargantuan riffs with fast-paced drumming and intense vocals. From its simple, yet mysterious beginning to its explosive end, it showcases A7X at their very best.
‘Welcome To The Family’ provides a punk style infusion of heavy drumming and a catchy chorus while ‘Danger Line’ looks at the perils of war though a soldiers eyes with a powerful chorus and emotional lyrics. The complete opposite of this song would be ‘God Hate’s Us All’ – which is quite simply heavy as f*ck. This track sees absolutely brutal vocals, revealing the utter anger the band feels for having their friend taken away, collide with a ferocious chorus that is sure to be a mosh-pit favourite.
‘Buried Alive’ is a standout track. Starting off with a blues sounding guitar line that is arguably the best intro throughout the album, it draws you in. This is then driven into a smooth, yet powerful vocal line that eventually sees the song turn into a stadium sized rock anthem that has Metallica influence written all over it.
It’s in songs like ‘Natural Born Killer’ and ‘Save Me’ that you begin to contemplate the realisation that Mike Portnoy has captured The Rev’s unique sound and style of drumming like no other could. While the latter song is a gothic epic - both heavy and haunting with piercing guitars, ‘Natural Born Killer’ is punchy and edgy. One of the fastest songs on the album that bears an incredible riff that will go over and over in your head. The song is infectious with both a catchy chorus and guitar solo mixed with some incredbile and whinding vocal lines.
Throughout the album you can feel the overwhelming loss the band has gone though and had to deal with. Songs ‘So Far Away’ and ‘Victim’ contain gruelling lyrics that contain so much emotion it can be hard to listen to. Both songs make it sound like M Shadows could burst into tears at any moment while singing, ‘I have so much to say but you’re so far away’ and ‘Stories full of tears. Remembering your life 'cause we wish that you were here’. ‘So Far Away’ contains one of the guitar solos of the album; it’s both beautiful and emotional.
‘Tonight The World Dies’ reveals an eerie guitar line and showcases possibly the best ever vocals recorded by M Shadows as he tears out such intensity, emotion and passion it will give you instant goose bumps.
Easily the most difficult song to listen to on the album is ‘Fiction’ – the last song ever written by The Rev and containing some of his brilliant and unique vocals which create a great harmony with M Shadows’ vocals. Throughout the whole song, there is a haunting piano line that keeps the track at the same pace. The song is beautiful in its mystery as the words, ‘I know you’ll find your own way when I’m not with you tonight’ reverberate with more meaning than they were intended to when they were written.
Wherever The Rev is, he must be proud. The music that he had always said would change the world finally has its chance thanks to the courage and determination of the remaining Avenged Sevenfold members.

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- Amy Parker

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