Sound — 8
As many people are aware, Avenged Sevenfold's Drummer The Reverend Tholemew Plague (AKA Jimmy Sullivan) died a year ago. From that sad day for music in general Avenged have seemingly decided to mention the death at every possible opportunity in order to increase album sales (it seems). Even drafting in Mike Portnoy (one of The Rev's favourite drummers) to lay down the drum tracks on the album in question. What does this have to do with the album itself? I'm sure you're asking this, well. In short the album is nothing more than fairly average, it's a A7X album, end of, you could listen to the darker songs on previous albums and get roughly the same result. The whole album is dark, very dark, centred around death, its a concept that flows throughout the entire record. As for musicality there's nothing your typical Avenged listener won't have heard before. Unless you look more into the songs themselves. The title track Nightmare is simplistic in itself, but does what it sets out to do, set the album up, and it does so perfectly, the chromatic intro gives the song a darker feel, whilst in the bridges the guitars use minor intervals in their harmonies of this descending line to create even more unease in the song. Lyrically it seems to centre around a feeling that you can't escape. guilt possibly with the lyric (you should have known the price of evil) The second track 'Welcome To The Family' is started with a simpler version of Dream Theatre's 'Honor Thy Father' drum fill, followed by a equally similar ossinato pattern in the guitar. (Portnoy influence maybe). After this DT reference, it follows a similar pattern to majority of the City Of Evil album, catchy vocals, pleasing guitar patterns, and a drum beat that seeks to impress as well as keep a pulse. The solo is a typical Synyster solo, fast, chromatic at times and flashy, shred in its purest form. This track is 100% radio friendly A7X. The third track is Danger Line, the track starts with a Bolero style snare pattern (also a marching band style pattern), followed by a intro solo. the main part of the song has a very similar melody to Nothing to Say from Slash's Solo effort (which M Shadows did vocals for). The chorus has a feel of Lost from the self titled album (minus the Vocoder), the song is very reminiscent of the mainstream Avenged. Track 4 is Buried Alive which is Avenged going back to something I personally think they do rather well, clean intro and verses and overdriven chorus' (I.E a grunge style of song). this song is obviously about how the band felt about the passing of The Rev, and there is a quiver in Shadow's voice throughout, which is understandable and also very sentimental, and adds a different side to the rather thug like persona of the Waking The Fallen Avenged Sevenfold. Natural Born Killer, is a thrash metal style track made to fit Avenged, Shadows vocals start with a low growl, then its back to business with his shouted style of vocal from City of Evil and Avenged Sevenfold (no real screams yet). the song flows into a slower pre chorus and chorus, then back into the fast paced verse. Song works well for Shadow's style of vocal, and sounds like something Avenged should write more of, even though the mini bridge riffs are reminiscent of Almost Easy from the self titled. So Far Away, This is another lighter song, flows rather similarly to Dear God in style, instrumentation. nothing special but a nice song nonetheless. God Hates Us, this is the song Shadows promised screaming on, and he barely delivers, a mid growl is what you get, so unfortunately for the fans of his high pitched screams (as on Sounding The Seventh Trumpet and Waking The Fallen) you won't be disappointed in what you hear, yet you'll want him to go higher, and where it sounds as though it should. it just doesn't which is a shame. The rest of this song is filled with a fast riffs, double kick all for most and a rather impressive dual solo, which based purely on tone seems to be being lead by Zacky (who did all solos on Sounding the Seventh Trumpet [except To End The Rapture]) then Synyster takes over with some Divebombs and various other techniques. Victim, This song is the final song that The Rev wrote (3 days after finishing this he passed away). The song is seemingly Shadow's hardest song to sing, his voice is throwing deep sadness throughout, and in the first chorus a sniff is audible. This adds to the song's nature and also allows for the song to breathe and reminisce about the band and to allow the listener to think about the various aspects of the band, which are all apparent within this one song. Tonight The World Dies, it's one of those songs you listen to but don't really notice it, it's good but its not one you can actively listen to. Fiction, This song has no Guitar whatsoever (shock horror) however it does have piano/strings (synthed)/drums and ... for the best part... The Rev doing the main vocal, doubled by Shadows, It's the only song on the album that seems to come from the heart. The Rev evidently wrote the song, and it seems to have been written from beyond the grave, 'I've found a place to rest my head' 'though I may be hard to find', the lyrics lend itself to the eeriness of the instrumentation. and also the voice you hear. almost a year after his death you find him singing on a track. Save Me. This song for me is totally different from Avenged Sevenfold, and personally sounds like a track Portnoy has written for DT, everything would fit perfectly in DT's song catalogue. There is not a single part that sounds detracted from DT, with exception to the vocals. Overall I give the Album 8, it's good but not quite as good as the previous albums.
Lyrics — 10
Shadow's has the unique ability to make anything work with anything. its amazing to listen to how he can manipulate his voice, words and melodies to make them fit over the harmony underneath. In Fiction, The Rev having seemingly written the song, has a very good understanding of the melody, Shadows seems to be hanging back and allowing The Rev's voice to be heard over his, opting to play a backing role rather than his usual powerful style. The lyrics all centre in some way or another to death, as was the original concept to the album, even before The Rev's passing, it was his idea to do a concept album based on that. there is no fault with the lyrical content or the vocals. So I give it 10.
Overall Impression — 9
If you compare the album to the past 5 albums from Avenged ( Sounding The Seventh Trumpet, Waking The Fallen, City Of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold, Diamonds in The Rough) it sits somewhere between DITR and COF in my opinion, in some respects it's different and slightly progressive of them, but every song is radio friendly and there's nothing to offend. The best songs on this particular album are (in my opinion), Welcome To The Family, Buried Alive, Nightmare, Save Me. If the album was stolen I probably would buy it again, not on the strength of the album, but purely because if it's not there my A7X CD's would have one missing. Overall the album gets 9/10. its good, regardless of the bad points.