Back in December, Avenged Sevenfold lost their drummer “The Rev.” So you have to give them credit some eight months or so later that they’re releasing a new album, “Nightmare,” the follow-up to their self-titled album, which also happens to be their best. “Nightmare” can be viewed as a tribute and final goodbye to their late drummer. However, it’s not a really successful goodbye.
The album begins with the single “Nightmare,” which has single written all over it; it’s a safe, radio friendly (aside from language), opening song. One of the two best songs follows next, with “Welcome to the Family,” which allows fill in drummer Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater to showcase his skills, as well as letting us hear familiar guitar riffs and solos. The album loses its identity shortly after. “Danger Line” and “Buried Alive” feel like the band is simply going through the motions. “So Far Away” works as a ballad, not as well as “Seize the Day,” but it fits well with the circumstances with the band, especially after repeated listening; it grows you on. The same can be said for “Victim,” except for the formulaic pattern the song takes. “God Hates Us” comes out of nowhere, especially considering is track placement between two ballads, and tries to invoke some heavier metal feelings, but doesn’t. We’re given two more ballad type songs in “Tonight the World Dies” and “Fiction,” the latter working better as an instrumental as the vocals ruin the song. The album closes nicely with the ten minute “Save Me,” filled with everything we’d expect from Avenged Sevenfold.
The biggest issue with the album is that it’s a mishmash of concept and traditional that doesn’t work together. Some songs feel like they belong on the self titled album, others feel like they’d be more comfortable on City of Evil. This could have been forgiven if the songs were better, but they’re just bland. It’s making me start to think that the band has peaked. It was much better on a second listening; the first listening felt like it dragged on for hours. But still, “Nightmare” didn’t do it for me.