Words cannot fully express the emotions running through my body in the moments leading up to hearing Nightmare for the first time. Any fan would agree when I say that A7X is very much a big family and through all that's happened in the past 7 months we've only grown closer and stronger. We held onto each other as we weeped and mourned, and we tried to show as much as we possibly could that we supported the band and would be there in every step forward they took. Nightmare is not, nor did I expect it to be, an easy album to stomach. It definitely leaves horrible taste in your mouth when all is said and done. Nonetheless, the album is absolutely beautiful and will forever be a loving testimony to the life that was taken from all too soon.
The album begins with the title track, and first single. It's creepy see all the parallels this song makes with what's been going on in real life, even though it was written prior to the loss to Jimmy Sullivan for what was originally suppose to be a concept album. All the band has been through has been a "fucking nightmare." However, it's classic Avenged Sevenfold track and what you would have expected from this album if it ended up as it was originally intend.
"Welcome To The Family"
In my interpretation this song speak straight to the fans. Beginning with "Hey kid, do I have your attention?" it feels as if the band is acknowledging how much the fans have supported them and how much they appreciate it but also saying there's really nothing they or the fans can do about the situation. Being a fan of any band is so different in this day and age because you have so much access to the personal lives of the band through the twitter, facebook, fansites, interviews, and documentaries. Most fans honestly felt like they knew Jimmy and his warm, radiant personality because of all of this. And most of them couldn't help but cry over his passing because it felt like they lost someone close to them. "Details blurry, lost him too early, welcome to the family," is the band saying that they understand how the fans are feeling and they can sympathize all too well.
This song is when I began to cry. Although the song is obviously one that was written for the concept album, it yet again makes eerie parallels. The lyrics are about a man in the military who has died, and has left behind a baby girl. The song starts of very fast and heavy, and then switches tempo about half way through with this verse:
"I never meant to leave this world alone,
I never meant to hurt the ones who care,
And all this time I thought we'd just grow old
You know, no one ever said it's fair."
That verse left me with tears streaming down my face. It's absolutely phenomenal, perfectly capture the emotions of the song and the loss of Jimmy. Then the song fades to black with what sounds like a military funeral procession and the words "remind the Lord to leave his light on, for me, I'm free."
This song as been referred to by some as greatest Avenged Sevenfold song ever written. It's such a strong, well-written song. With two choruses and the way it completely switches gears halfway through, it makes this song an epic. I love the lyric in the first chorus "I can't live in here for another day, darkness has kept the light concealed, grim as ever," it flawlessly captures that raw emotion of just feeling lost and trapped. With this chorus first half feels very depressing while the second half as the guitars pick up the pace feels very angry and vengeful.
"Natural Born Killer"
I can definitely see this song becoming a single. It's loud, angry, and powerful. This song basically says that no one could ever understand what this band is feeling, "I'm begging you to walk in my shoes anytime." The song certainly leaves you wanting to punch a hole in a wall.
"So Far Away"
This song is one of the hardest songs on the album to listen to for me, second only to Fiction. It was written by Brian (Synyster Gates) and it dedicated to Jimmy, and it is the first song he wrote both the music and lyrics too. The song basically rips your heart out of your chest and completely pulverizes it. Hysterically crying I faced with lyrics like "A light that healed a broken heart with all it could," "Will you stay away forever?," "How do I live without the ones I love?," "I have so much to say but you're so far away." Brian's guitar solo is so perfectly executed because you can hear that he's telling his story through it. You feel as if his guitar is crying and heartbroken words are going to jump of the notes. It is magnificent, one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.
"God Hates Us"
For those of you that believe that Matt can't scream anymore, you can't now put that rumor to rest. His screams sound even better than on Sounding The Seventh Trumpet and Waking The Fallen. The anger stage of grievance is displayed right before our eyes with this track. Once again, boldly proclaiming that they've been through a "total nightmare." Just the title of the song shows that they're angry with God for what has happened. You can definitely taste a loss of hope and faith in this song. I think it's one of the most raw songs on the album.
This track is one of my favorites on this album, and another one that made me cry. It's introduced with a beautiful gospel like voice. Matt's voice is flawless in the opening verse singing such moving lyrics, "nothing is harder than waking up all alone, realize that it's not okay, it's the end of all you've known." The guitar sound so stunning, the solo almost has an angelic like quality which reminds me of the solo in "Seize The Day." The lyric "and all the speculations, save it for another time," caught my attention immediately. None of the band, nor the fans, want to have Jimmy's reputation shattered over any speculations about his cause of death. As Brian said in Kerrang!:
“Jimmy wasn’t fucking addicted to anything. He was addicted to life. He was a shooting star and those things fucking burn out quickly.”
The song then comes to a close with the gospel like voice reappearing, leaving you with a heavenly feeling.
"Tonight The World Dies"
The title of this song leaves a lump down in my throat, it's just a perfect fit for this song. You can hear the hurt in Matt's voice, which make that lump grow even more. The way he screams out "mother cries" has so much anguish behind it, it kills me. The solo in this song was magnificently played by Papa Gates (Brian Haner Sr.) and is his glorious tribute to his fallen son.
I don't think any amount of mental anticipation could have fully prepared me for what I was about to hear. Believe me when I say I lost all control of my emotions upon hearing this song, hysterical tears. I could never put into word how beautiful this song truly is. The song was written by Jimmy just days before his passing and he recorded the vocals in a garage so perfectly clear that they were able to be put on the final tracking. The song is so clairvoyant it scares me. It's almost as if he was saying goodbye on this track, and maybe he was. It opens with this eerie, apocalyptic piano piece Then immediately you're face with Jimmy's ever-unique voice. The song almost has a feeling of him crossing into the light. The way Jimmy chokes out the lyrics "I hope it's worth it, here on the highway, I know you'll find your own way when I'm not with you" is so painful to hear because it sounds as if those last lines he ever sang were with his last breath. The song is heartwrenching and by far the hardest song to even bare to listen to, but it is the most magnificent and beautiful song on the entire album. Possibly one of the most beautiful ever written, and absolutely the greatest Avenged Sevenfold song. I cannot even fathom how Rocksound could've said it was "by far the worst song." This is the ultimate tribute to his life.
At almost eleven minutes long, this epic of a track is a personal favorite of several of the boys. The song is really speaking out to God and asking him why all this happened and where do they go from here? I love the drumming in this song, Mike captures perfectly Jimmy's style with the fast bass beats. The guitar duos are fabulous, classic Zacky and Brian. The final lines of the song and of the album "Tonight we all die young," perfectly concluded the emotional roller coaster that is Nightmare.
This album is a glorious tribute so a man that was truly a beautiful person as well as an amazing artist. I hope this album serves as a way to keep his memory and legacy alive.
In loving memory of James Owen Sullivan, foREVer in our hearts.