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L.A. Times review of 'Nightmare' blasted as 'an insult to all' Avenged Sevenfold fans


Avenged Sevenfold's latest album "Nightmare" was born during a time of vulnerability, M. Shadows tells the Times in Thursday's Calendar story. The frontman of the hard Huntington Beach-based rock outfit says that the album, completed after the sudden passing of 28-year-old drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, who was found dead at his home in Huntington Beach, represents a frank outpouring of emotions.


"You can sit there and write about it all day, but if you haven't been through heartbreak, there's just a difference," Shadows says. "When I was writing lyrics, I didn't really care what I was saying; I just cared about what I was feeling. And I think we made the album at such a vulnerable time that it shows.

"A lot of people were like, 'Wow, you're sure getting over the death fast.' We were like, 'No, actually, we're not — we're bawling in the studio every day.' But if we did the record now, there'd be a lot less I'd be willing to put out there. You get more guarded as you realize what's going on."

Shadows details the making of the album in the Times piece, written by Mikael Wood, which includes thoughts from Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who was an idol of Sullivan's and completed the drum parts Sullivan had written for "Nightmare." 


The piece appears the same week that a Times review of the album has inspired a barrage of angry comments from Avenged Sevenfold fans on this blog. Here is an excerpt, written by frequent contributor Jeff Weiss:

Whether you appreciate the veteran hard rock/metal hybrid depends on your tolerance for spiraling guitars, avalanche drums and satanic screams. Or your inclination to the aesthetic spelled out in the video for lead single "Nightmare," with its bloody and cackling children, experimental surgeries and morbid obsessions. Consider it Edward Gorey as re-conceptualized by Hannibal Lecter and Korn.

The line that's generating the most anger is the closing one: "With imagery haunted by death and lyrical allusions to alienation and angst, Avenged Sevenfold's fifth full-length is almost impossible to appreciate unless you fit the prime demographic: tormented teenage boys."

Here's a brief sampling of the more than 100 comments we have received -- many unfit for publication -- in response to the review. Only the posted user names are shown. 



Nick: Saying the Prime demographic is "Tormented teenage boys" is an insult to all the A7X fans, including me. I have a wide music taste and appreciate any music where you can feel the artist(s) put their heart and soul into their work. This album is one of the best examples of that. If you can't appreciate different genres of music, because obviously you don't enjoy metal, why are you doing music reviews?

Anahid Juarez: I'm a member of today's youth so I never read newspapers or LA Times articles for that matter but as soon as I read Avenged Sevenfold I didn't even think twice about clicking the link and what do I get for doing that? A crappy article.

Titus: Satanic Screams? ultra violent video game? morbid obsessions? Thanks for an insightful review Jeff! Did your mom have to sign a permission slip so you could listen to such a x-rated record? next time an open mind would only help.

Sarah: Sooo...I'm 22, enrolled in the pre-law program at the university I attend, a rabid a7x fan, and a girl. Do I still fall into that category of tormented teenage boys?? Not only was your poorly written review an insult to the band and the family of the recently deceased Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, but it's insulting to me as well. You obviously despise the genre of metal in general, and used this poor excuse of a review as a means to attack the fanbase and artists so passionately invested in it. Here's an idea, go comment on something you actually understand...like PETA or Greenpeace. I doubt you even listened to the album, your review revolved around music video and "Call of Duty" anyway. At least change the title of your "review" to something relevant, like "Why I Wish Metal Would Die."

One fan went so far as to suggest we run an alternative review. Here's an excerpt of a review published this morning in the Pop & Hiss comments by Graeme Lunn:

Fans of their earlier work circa Waking The Fallen will certainly appreciate God Hates Us, fans of their most recent Self Titled album most likely to enjoy the sing-along rock anthems Welcome to the Family and Victim, whereas fans of their City Of Evil album should generally enjoy most of the album as the variance in tracks and tempo is rather similar.

Most of the tracks are healthy in length with some taking twists similar to an episode of 24 in which the track you began with is entirely different sounding from the one you finished listening to - an outstanding example of this is the track Buried Alive from the opening gentle, melodic guitar intro, twisting through it's duration to the pounding and more angry climax.


Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater has done an excellent job in replicating the drum style of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan and his work in itself is both impressive and selfless in staying true to the style of The Rev whilst also offering his insight and experience to the band. I am sure they and their fans are eternally grateful for him to allow this, arguably Avenged Sevenfold's finest album, to come to life.


Read the Times story: For Avenged Sevenfold, 'Nightmare' album is part of the grief.

--Todd Martens

Photo: Avenged Sevenfold. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Comments () | Archives (38)

Are you trying to make things worse? You are seriously going to have a lot of pissed off fans including me.

I would like to point out that it was more than simply the closing line but the entire feeling that the person reviewing the album did not understand anything about it or possibly even listen to it. The reviewer did not understand that the entire album was written to honor Jimmy's memory and legacy and was not dark for no reason. The reviewer also referred to the video and the use of one of the songs in a video game, neither of which have anything to do with an album review. They reviewed the video and video game more then they reviewed the album, leading the Avenged Family to feel as though they hadn't even given the album a listen, let alone understand where the pain and darkness came from. Yes, we are insulted by the closing remark, but we are also outraged by the way the review did not review the album at all and was entirely an uneducated review.

So does that mean you kicked him (Jeff Weiss) out?

I'm so glad they did this follow up to that terrible review. There are so many people out there that were offended by it and it's nice to see them own up to there mistake. Now the other review was much more insitful and it's clear the writer actually listened to the album.

In all honesty I , like every other Avenged Sevenfold fan, was very angry while reading the "review", but as a newspaper it shows class to show this and not ignore all those who were insulted by this. I may not live in L.A. but this keeps me from blasting your paper for the rest of my life.

Now /this/ is an article. Researched, neutral and presenting both sides. That Jeff guy was a total dick. thank you for this Todd.

Why does this "Sarah" automatically assume that Jeff, who DID write a terrible review of this album, would be interested in things like PETA or Greenpeace? Does that mean that people who care about animals and the environment can't also be fans of metal, or of Avenged Sevenfold? How foolish. She is guilty of the same ignorance she is accusing Jeff Weiss is, and it completely diminishes the rest of her comment. Unfortunate.

She sounds like a typical jingoistic conservative. Oh wait - did I just make a BASELESS assumption? Pardon me.

Thanks for posting this, Todd.

@Morgan: How is this making it worse? This article acknowledges the fact that the review (by someone else) pissed off a lot of fans and that the comment about their demographic was off-base. In other words, acknowledging that the previously-posted review wasn't exactly the best.

I honestly don't get so involved on an emotional level reading reviews, because as they stand, they are nothing more than opinions. But if you're going to hate on something with such a passion, give a substantial justification than relaying your hate from a music video that was inspired by Jimmy Sullivan's favorite movie, Jacob's Ladder (a fitting tribute the band thought towards his memory) and a video game trailer. As a die-hard A7X fan from the days of StST and WtF, I understand the band has gone through some significant changes in five albums and with that, I understand not every album is for every fan of music, so if you're going to be so narrow-minded to hate on something, just be blunt and say "...it's not my cup of tea..." and leave it at that. I personally don't really care for Dream Theater, but I don't bash the hell out of them, they're just not my style, yet I can have respect for their talents and admiration for what they do which is why I loved the idea of Mike Portnoy filling in for The Rev. If you're going to substantially hate M+M candies, don't say the colors annoy you, say you just don't like chocolate. This guy is a shame to journalistic integrity.

PS: I'm 22, obtaining my Bachelor's of Sciences degree in Sports Management, happily in love, and 100% satisfied with my life...Yet this music appeals to me heavily and enjoy every note. Sorry if I don't fit the demographics you claimed as A7x fans. Clown.


Crappy band, with cranky band members, let their mascara run as they mourn the loss of a member, and yet want to praised wildly for their artsy pretense. Oh please, cry me a river. That review was accurate, but probably should have included, "Prime demographic: tormented teenage boys, and the girls who love 'em." There.

This was a brilliant move on the behalf of the l.a. times. They managed to turn off the flood gaskets without actually apologizing for a horrifically offensive article.

This along with the interview has put me back on neutral with this site.

I will be cautious of your reviews in the future, however.

Im glad something was said. That was just pure un-proffesional writing, and i do ultimatly hope there was some reprocussion for that. He made you look BAD. This review is much better. Its nice to see some responsibility taken for a change, and personally i love the addition of fan responses to that.. atrocity.
Jeff, you need to find a new job. Writing is not your thing.

and liana. no. you are not funny. your just as bad as jeff for insulting fans as well. there is absolutly no need to make this political. A7X has many fans all over the world that have many different beliefs. Regardless of what we as fans believe, cause it makes no difference at all, the reason why we are here-on this page- is to prove them wrong. Avenged is a legendary great band, they have been through a lot, and i personally will never doubt thier greatness...and niether should LA or the LA Times.

I think those comments are true! This is the BEST music of today and this album is AMAZING! People who don't like this album obviously are NOT into rock or metal that much. This album deserves A LOT more respect and EVERY TRUE A7X fan is supporting this album and are buying it more that once!!! I think it is VERY insulting for you guys to say that 'Nightmare' is insulting to the fans. I do respect your opinion but believe that it is VERY negative.

so did JEFF get fired?????? he should trip in front of a car

I have been an A7X fan for years now, ever since I was in middle school, and I am almost done with high. I have every album they have ever made and I have witnessed the drastic changes in their albums. "Angry teenagers"? You have got to be kidding. I have never been to this site, but when i saw the title Nightmare, I didnt think twice about clicking the article. Yes, it is a huge insult to A7X, the Sullivan family, and to me as well. This clearly is not your genre of music and the reveiw shoukd never have been writtan by your filfty hands. I am pleased at the comments by the fans and I will continue to support A7X for ages to come.

I really enjoy a7x ... I've been listening to them for awhile now, and delving into all of their works (the 4 previous studio albums, plus the non-album tracks), and I've liked their style as it's changed over time.

I think the dispute over the album is over the music and the purpose of the album:

If you're a fan, and you consider this album a "communication" from the band to you, then you'll most certainly enjoy the entire album. It effectively portrays the range of emotions that accompany a deep loss.

If you're more generally a music enthusiast, though, this album is a little lost on you. It has a very schizophrenic feel - sometimes it wants to be the a7x we saw in their most recent studio album; sometimes it wants to be harder, more like Waking the Fallen ... and these are both totally understandable.

But sometimes it sounds like it wants to be Metallica, particularly when they drop the melodic guitar riffs and grind metal ... and, going to the other side of the spectrum, their extended trip into the soulful, deep, brooding tracks almost feels like a whole different CD. It really sounds like they had most of the CD put together, then took it apart and spliced in the more emotional tracks.

I feel like many a7x fans are not used to getting this from them in such a disjointed fashion. One of my favorite things about the group is the seamless transitioning between the more melodic tracks and the more metalcore tracks - Waking the Fallen is probably my favorite because they did such a great job blending their sounds (from the intro to Unholy Confessions; from I Won't See You Tonight Part I to Part II; etc.).

I don't think anybody's saying that the album is especially bad. They're just saying that it's not the sound many people were expecting and hoping for. I've had this day circled on my calendar for awhile, and I was a little disappointed with the album as a whole. Many of the tracks are quite good on their own, but it just doesn't have the "whole" feeling that I get from the other albums.

I can thankfully say I will never bash L.A Times. I appreciate the follow up and I know in the future I will probably pick up the Times one day. I, however, am not sorry for what I told Jeff, and I hope he actually read my post, because it was never accepted to his blog.

@DAMaverick- Clearly you are a hater of the band. If that is your opinion I don't mind, but it makes you look so idiotic and pathetic for that comment. How can an ALBUM review be based off a MUSIC VIDEO AND VIDEO GAME MUSIC VIDEO (GMV)? If you find the album horrendous, by all means state that, but don't come here stating a review is correct, when it reviews nothing of the album. So please unless you want to look unbelievably stupid on the internet say one more comment. You are clearly a rabid teenager with household issues and social problems; trying to get satisfaction from this situation, yet looking all the more pathetic.

Thanks Todd!

You know something is wrong when the public is asking for Jeff's job over a review. Apparently this album is Greatness!?! I believe so! :D

BTW: Buy Jeff this CD and make him listen to it as punishment for being an idiot! Thanks!

Thank you so much for writing this follow-up for that poor excuse of a musical review. Until they actually LISTEN to the album, they shouldn't be allowed to say anything, and if they did...I'm just disappointed. This band put everything they had into Nightmare in their time of grieving and this is what they get in return?

It's sad.

I really can't understand why the Times is running this piece. I haven't heard this album and I don't really know the band, so I really have no idea how accurate the review is. But shouldn't the Times stand behind its reviewers? The writer heard the album, wrote down his thoughts on the album, and some people disagreed with it. But so what? If Ann Powers wrote a harshly negative review of, say, Justin Bieber, and then the review page was flooded with angry fans leaving comments, would the Times back off from that?

Plus, the album currently has a Metacritic score of 51 out of 100 (based on just a few reviews, but still), so it doesn't even seem like this review was out of the ordinary.

U have no idea how much hate pain and anger the members of that band are going through right now. I can't beleve how rude u people can b by saying those things u said abt this album that they put their heart and soul into. I know exactly how they feal half my family is dead and if someone said sometimg abt somethin I made in honor of them I'd be rlly pissed off. So think abt wht u say before u say it and I dnt care wht genere of music u like or who u r.

Wow, who knew Avenged Sevenfold fans were so sensitive. I think I might cry.

Well done on posting this. It's not often people go back on things.

So does this mean we can expect an alternate review of Best Coast’s new album “Crazy For You”? I sure hope so. That cat “Snacks” on the cover reminds me of my childhood pet Jibbers the cat (R.I.P. old buddy). While reading the review (barely) I couldn’t stop sobbing and thought about the hundreds of other suffering pet owners like me that would feel less offended if you just didn’t review the album at all. Album reviews are like rainbows. They're colorful, happy and designed to cheer people up. We need to keep music criticism at a perfectly regular level -- emotions and critical thinking skills are so 2009 anyway. Ugh! That reminds me. 2009 was the address of the pet cemetery where we laid poor Jibbers to rest. When will it end, August Brown?

I think Jeff should get a trophy or maybe one of those Boy Scout badges for accidentally pissing off the largest horde of whiny music fans ever to comment on an album review. It should definitely depict a lightning bolt piercing a guitar. And on the body of the guitar there is a logo that reads “Avenge Me".

When I look back at the L.A. Times in the years to come I'm not going to remember the truly great posts, the brilliant photos, or the powerful features and reviews that all took a stand on an issue. I'm going to remember the Avenged Sevenfold album review that was created specifically to appease the comment section.

Speaking of pets...I tried to contact someone over at PETA about job leads for Jeff. They’re not hiring. And Greenpeace? They can't stand hip-hop.

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