Sound — 9
December 28, 2009 - The lives of four men and countless others were forever changed when Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan passed away in his home in California. Avenged Sevenfold has come together through this tragedy to cement the Rev's legacy with their latest release, 'Nightmare.' This album is a pure roller coaster ride, going up and down between the radio A7X sound ('Nightmare'), the sorrowful A7X in the loss of a brother ("So Far Away"), and everything between. The sound of this album is a very sorrowful tone. While the Rev contributed a lot to the songwriting of this album, his passing shows in the lyrics. A7X has created an album full of hard hitting songs that hearken back to the old sound ('God Hates Us') as well as creating a new, somber mood with their ballads. Songs such as 'So Far Awa,' 'Victim,' and 'Tonight the World Dies' all have a new tone to them. While there is no doubt that it is an A7X song, they have a new feel. They have a mood altering tone to them. One of grief, and of loss. The strongest ballad on this album, as far as sound and musical prose are concerned, is 'Buried Alive.' This song delves deep into the writing styles of every band member, finding new creative outlets. The angry bridge of the song brings back thoughts of an old Metallica styled angst. Another song that will be a fan pleaser with this album is 'God Hates Us.' Shadows cites that bands such as Pantera helped inspire this song. Upon listening, any die hard Avenged Sevenfold fan will recognize the sound. The screaming, the heavy riffs; they all point back to Waking the Fallen's signature sound that has since disappeared. The sound of this album is beyond measure. Avenged Sevenfold have truly outdone themselves with this heart-felt approach to song writing. One listen shows that without the Rev, the band is more passionate than ever with this album, and the sorrow from losing their brother is evident in every track.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics on this album deviate from the past few albums. Mostly due to the Rev's passing, the lyrics take a dark tone. While he did write roughly 60% of the album, Johnny Christ stated in an interview that the lyrics for the album took a dark turn when the Rev died. 'God Hates Us' is a clear cut example of how angry the lyrics can get on this album. Shadows is still at the top of his game vocally, and delivers on every song. From their signature sound on 'Nightmare' to the emotional performances on 'So Far Away' and 'Fiction,' Avenged Sevenfold's lyrics are strong, and invoke many different emotions throughout the album. One song in particular with extraordinary storytelling is 'Danger Line.' This song touches on the life of a soldier, and how he deals with the perils of war. The song tells the story of the soldier, and how he will miss his family in death. The lyrics are brought to life with Shadows' melody. One major song to note on this album is 'Fiction.' Originally titled 'Death,' the Rev handed this song to the band 3 days before his death, and submitted it as his final song for the album. The lyrics are a haunting call, wishing everyone the best as the narrator passes on, hoping not to hurt or displace anyone who is affected by his death. The lyrics take on a controversial meaning to some, whether it was a suicide note or merely a narration conceived by Jimmy, but regardless, it is the most original track on the album. Featuring Jimmy's voice on the chorus, the song is a piano laden track using dissonance and perfect harmonies together to create a unique sound. Listening to the Rev sing his heart out and scream on this track is one of the hardest things for an A7X fan to hear, knowing it's the last track that they will ever hear his beautiful voice on ever again. Overall, the lyrics and singing on this album are better than past attempts, and they even will please the old school fans with 'God Hates Us.' A7X have truly stepped up their game in order to honor their fallen brother.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this album is the strongest outing yet from Avenged Sevenfold. While many fans may notice their are more ballads than previous albums, this is only natural due to their situation. This album was released in order to permanently set the Rev's legacy, and to allow fans to hear his final work. With Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater stepping in to record Jimmy's tracks, the album will get every fan's approval, and will keep the Rev forever in their hearts... James Owen Sullivan, "The Rev" February 9, 1981 December 28, 2009 Life may fade, but the memories never will. A7X has lost a brother. The fans lost a legend. Rest in Peace, until that day when we all meet in the afterlife.