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Avenged Sevenfold Nightmare
Released 26 July 2010
Producer Mike Elizondo
Label Warner Bros.
Length 66:47
Genre Metal
Website avengedsevenfold.com

Avenged Sevenfold are a bristling, loud and dynamic five-piece metal outfit that hail from Huntington Beach California. Nightmare is their fifth studio album, and if you are yet to hear of them, this could well be the record that makes its way onto the radars of the mainstream.

The sound that Sevenfold bring on this album is more likely to be an A&R man's dream rather than a nightmare. Mixing up some of the classic metal sounds of the last two decades and adding a "new-age" twist, it is easy to see how this band have been making serious waves on the hard rock/metal scene. They have been particularly huge in the USA where recently they were voted number two on Ultimate Guitar's Top Ten Bands of the Decade. Tours with legends such as Metallica have only added to the band's credibility.

Prior to the recording of this album, the band lost their drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan to an untimely prescription overdose. Although the album sleeve is littered with dedications to their missing bandmate, the songs themselves do not seem to dwell on the band's tragedy. Instead drummer Mike Portnoy steps into the breach quite seamlessly as the new line-up deliver eleven tracks of tightly-wound sonic artillery.

Throughout the album there are moments where influences of metal legends are abound and can be heard loud and clear. The two that stand out, in terms of outright homage and frequency of use, are Iron Maiden and Metallica. Singer M. Shadows oscillates between a throaty Hetfield growl and the alto pitching of Dickinson to good effect, and overall his vocal performance on this record is laudable. Similarly guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance (I know, I know - silly rock names ahoy!) alternate between duelling harmonic solos so typical of Maiden's heyday, and crunching powerchords of a much more modern variety.

The album's opening title track illustrates all of the above traits and is one of the standout songs on the record, as the colours of the metal-rainbow come together nicely for a lively and memorable opener. Elsewhere 'Dangerline' provides yet more varying hues, and while at times sounding eerily like Bruce Dickinson it is quite possibly the most lyrically heartfelt and musically progressive track on the album.

The danger with Avenged Sevenfold is that they will be seen by the hard rock aficionados as merely a "teen" band. A group of tattooed guys who fill the role of unit-shifters to the angry and disillusioned "young-adult" market where the likes of Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit once resided. They certainly do not posses the gravitas of Tool, Opeth, Rammstein or Nine Inch Nails and therefore could potentially fall into the cracks between those heavy-hitters and the also-rans. Songs like 'Welcome to the Family' and 'God Hates Us' won't help their cause in this regard as these tracks come across as metal's equivalent of painting by numbers.

But there is enough on this album to suggest even bigger things for Sevenfold. It is expertly mixed by the Svengali of the mixing-desk Andy Wallace, who brings all of his honed skills to the table delivering an all round great sounding record. Although a bit light of theme and ideas, the musicianship and catchiness of many of the songs obscure the more bland areas.

All in all I would not be surprised if this album becomes the metal record of the year in many people's eyes.

- D. Egan