10 Years of Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Nightmare’

A bittersweet album of both success and tragedy, see what made the album so monumental a decade after it’s release.

Following the momentum gathered from their two previous albums, City Of Evil and Avenged Sevenfold, the Californian band took the world by storm with the release of their fifth studio album, Nightmare.

A decade today since it’s release, the album is still highly regarded as a fan-favourite and one of their most successful albums to date- but what exactly made Nightmare so revolutionary?

Going gold in both the US and the UK, Nightmare was the band’s first album to reach number one on the charts, becoming an immediate triumph from its debut back in 2010. Yet, despite the overnight success, the album was always underpinned by the tragedy that it was built upon.

This is because, for fans worldwide, the release of Nightmare signified something more than a new release, it was a homage to the band’s renowned drummer, The Rev. 

Initially designed as a progressive concept album, the drummer was credited with writing much of Nightmare. However, after accidentally overdosing following an ongoing heart condition, the death of The Rev back in December 2009 meant that the band were almost ready to call it quits.

Coming to a consensus, Avenged Sevenfold eventually decided to persevere with the album- following the demos meticulously and bringing in the drummer’s biggest influence, Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy to record the drums. 

Originally inspired by Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the band scrapped the idea of a concept album and made it more personal to them. Deciding not to rewrite Nightmare, the lyrics were instead switched to make the songs a homage to the life of The Rev. 

No longer a hybrid of thrash and classic metal, Nightmare quickly became the band’s most emotional and mature album to date, allowing them to explore new territory and develop the unmistakable and distinctive sound that they’re known for today. 

With songs such as ‘So Far Away’ and ‘Save Me’ dedicated to the passing member, Nightmare instantly became a fan-favourite; highly regarded as the most sombre and heartfelt sound that the band had ever captured. 

Retaining demo-tracks with vocals recorded by The Rev, the album brought fans closer to the members for the first time- allowing them to pay a tribute to the beloved member as the band ventured down a new avenue.

For instance, the penultimate track, ‘Fiction’ steered the band into untrodden territory. Gifted to the members just days before his death, the song was originally titled ‘Death’ and was created single-handedly by the drummer. Speculated to have foreshadowed his death, the song allows the drummer to say goodbye to the other members, casting doubt on his death as an accident.

However, despite the heart-wrenching ballads and emotional lyrics, the album was still able to provide the intense, hard-hitting songs that the band were famed for. 

Still more than able to pack a punch when necessary with songs such as ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Welcome To The Family’, the album also received high praise through its ability to show the band’s diversity.

Taking over six months to record, Nightmare received rave reviews from Kerrang! and Metal Hammer as well as skyrocketing up the Billboard Charts into the number one position from its debut. 

Now, even a decade after its release, fans across the globe still hold Nightmare in high regard as the band’s best album. From the emotional, hard-hitting lyrics to the chart-topping heavier hits, the album is rigged with nuance and a set intention of what it aims to do.

Revealing a more meaningful and mature side to their music, Avenged Sevenfold proved that they were able to find a sense of beauty amid their tragedy and developed their signature, distinctive sound as a result.

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