Being that my favorite band is Dream Theater and their drummer Mike Portnoy is one of the coolest musicians out there, I had to check out Avenged Sevenfold when he recorded the tracks for their new album.
I checked out a few of their singles online and they were enough to get me to buy Nightmare (the new one) and their self-titled previous album. Of course when I walked into the store and saw Waking the Fallen with a free t-shirt I couldn’t pass it up either.
From the three albums that I have heard, Nightmare is Avenged Sevenfold’s best work. The band has had an obvious evolution over their career. Waking The Fallen has a great deal of screaming vocals, Avenged Sevenfold has fewer, and Nightmare is almost entirely clean. The music has become more melodic and diverse as well.
The title track kicks things off with one of the best songs on the album; “Welcome to the Family” and “Danger Line” both have heavy sections and others that you can sing along with. “Buried Alive” is up there with “Nightmare” as the album’s best tracks, it starts off slow but builds and builds right into the instrumental section which takes off and then concludes with a the heaviest section yet.
“Natural Born Killer” continues the heaviness, but the album slows down in the acoustic, “So Far Away.” This is where lots of bands can separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Lots of bands can rock it out, but being able to create a good slow, acoustic song as well adds a whole new dimension. Nightmare will be remembered for its heavy songs, but “So Far Away” is just as good as any other on the album.
“God Hates Us” transitions back into the heavy and adds the harshest vocals on the album. “Victim” and “Tonight the World Dies” also straddle the heavy line. “Fiction” is the fourth really good song on the album. Haunting piano and a mixture of vocals unlike any other on the album create quite a memorable track.
There’s obvious influence throughout Nightmare from The Rev, Avenged Sevenfold’s drummer who passed away before the recording of the album. The last song he wrote, “Fiction,” is where this is felt the strongest.
“Save Me” the longest track concludes Nightmare with nearly eleven minutes of a variety of music. You can get the bonus track “Lost It All” on iTunes which is also a pretty solid track.
Other than continuing the band’s evolution, Nightmare isn’t exactly breaking new ground. That being said, from where I sit, that evolution is going in the right direction. The band’s next move will be interesting because they’ll be faced with writing their first album without the lineup they’ve had for eight years. Whether they look for a new member or continue with Portnoy or another fill-in, I will be keeping my eye out for them.
While Nightmare has four really good songs, the band’s 2007 self-titled album has three really good songs and two incredible songs. “Critical Acclaim,” “Almost Easy,” and “Afterlife” are all very enjoyable. Not to say the others are not, “Unbound”’s piano parts and “Lost”’s altered vocals are pretty cool.
I pretty much bought the album for “A Little Piece of Heaven” and “Dear God.” Ironically, “A Little Piece of Heaven” is nothing you would expect to hear from a rock band, but the prog fan in me ate it up. The song, and the video which is a work of art, is offensive, creative, and its refrain is stuck in your head. “Dear God,” in a similar vein to “So Far Away” helps to set Avenged Sevenfold apart from a lot of bands. Plain and simple it’s a beautiful song; everyone will think of someone specific when they hear it.
Waking the Fallen
As mentioned, I bought this album because it came with a free t-shirt. I’m glad the shirt is nice because the album isn’t really a stand out. I haven’t listened to it as much as the other two, but haven’t gotten into it when from what I have heard. The vocals are much harsher than the newest two albums, but that isn’t what bothers me per say. I’m not going to dissect it track-by-track until I get around to really listening to it, but for now I’ll say that if you didn’t enjoy Nightmare, give this one a try.