Sound — 9
After the death of The Rev last December, many people began to question whether or not the band would contunue, record the unfinished album, and if the album was going to be good. Well the band decided to record the album and it is the strongest and most diverse album they have released. Nightmare is the ultimate tribute to their deceased friend James Owen Sullivan. Each member of the band have improved as both musicians and songwriters, resulting in the darkest and most emotional album Avenged Sevenfold have written. Nightmare borrows elements from their previous four albums while having a unique sound of it's own. Some songs do have that typical Avenged Sevenfold sound, especailly "Welcome to the Family", the most dissapointing song on the album; however, there are many experimental tracks as well. The outro of "Danger Line" consists of piano, horns, marching drums, and even whistling. "God Hates Us" is the heaviest Avenged Sevenfold song ever released. There are more piano parts on this album than any of their past efforts, most notably on "Fiction", which is their first song to have no guitar at all. The album does a great job combining heavy riffs and clean melodies. The band members themselves have improved. Synyster Gates guitaring has become more soulful. Although his fast, technical solos are still present (many of them are bland and overdone), there are many memorable solos ("Victim", "God Hates Us", and "Save Me" have great solos). Zacky Vengeance also plays more diverse riffs but there are still the overused groove metal riffs throughout the album. Brian Haner Sr.(Synyster Gate's father) even plays on "So Far Away", which is a nice addition. Johnny Christ continues to perform cool bass parts ("Natural Born Killer" and "Tonight the World Dies" being examples). The band asked Mike Portnoy (of Dream Theatre, who was The Rev's favorite drummer) to record the drums for the album, and does a great job filling in for The Rev while staying true to his style of drumming. The songwriting is the strongest part of the album. Each song is well written and flow together almost perfectly. The only problem with the songwriting is that many parts feel half finished. The remaining four members tried a bit too hard to keep the songs the way The Rev left them. While that is very respectable, they would feel more complete if the band changed them or if The Rev himself could of been in the studio working with them. Aveged Sevenfold have proved that they can perfect their sound on Nightmare, although for those who don't like their older material, some parts will be dissapointing.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, the band have gotten more seious and true to themselves. "Nightmare" is a bit weak, other parts are almost annoying, but the rest is well written and fits the music the way it should. Lead singer M. Shadows stated in 2009 that the lyrics were inspired by the way kids are emotionally detached from what's going on in the real world. That inspiration is still in influence on the lyrics, but most of the album is focused on the life and death of The Rev. Synyster Gates writes his first lyrics for the band in the song "So Far Away". They aren't awe-inspiring, but are unique compared to other Avenged Sevenfold songs (they are much different than M. Shadows lyrics). Vocally, the album is amazing. M. Shadows singing is better than ever. He even screams in "God Hates Us". The screams sound as good as they did on Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and and Waking the Fallen. The other members of the band do a good job with the backing vocals. The Rev's vocals appear on the album, including lead vocals on "Fiction". The vocals (and the entire song) are beautiful, even though a couple of the lines can be hard to understand. This album has the most emotional and well written lyrics Avenged Sevenfold have written.
Overall Impression — 10
Avenged Sevenfold have created their masterpeice. From the heavy riffs on "God Hates Us" to the ballads such as "Tonight the World Dies" to their longest song yet "Save Me", the album has proven to their most experimental and beautifully written album. The only major complaint is "Save Me" should of ben track ten and "Fiction" should of been the last song. It makes more sense because it is the last song The Rev wrote and he said it was to be the last song for the album when he handed it in. Overall, Nightmare is one of the best albums (if not the best) released this year. It is worth more than the twelve dollars spent on it. Nightmare is Avenged Sevenfold's best and is the ultimate tribut to their brother James Owen Sullivan.