American Nightmare - American Nightmare (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

American Nightmare

American Nightmare (2018)


Has American Nightmare gotten more mainstream? Yes. Let's just get that out the way and also accept mainstream isn't necessarily bad. Not when you've kept the engine of heart, soul and pure emotion intact in your art. If anything, Wesley Eisold and the band on the whole actually feel more comfortable in this skin, clearly channeling the time apart. And for Wes as lyricist and vocalist, the growth of writing and making music as Cold Cave has given him a more bold approach to crafting this trade.

American Nightmare was always going to have its skeptics under Rise Records, but that aside, I'm intrigued just by how this is more punk than hardcore. They've always done hardcore pretty well but now, as you can tell off tracks like "American Death" there's something new the band wants to explore and succeed at. In fact, this reminds me of Suicidal Tendencies and set the stage for other punk tracks like "War" and "Flowers Under Siege" to make the record just as political as it is personal. And hell, they're actually succeeding at it. As expected. The riffs are brutal, kitwork's as pounding, and Eisold's vocals are as grating as ever.

Granted, I'd have love for them to stick to their hardcore strengths and throw in a few more old-school songs but what's on offer works. "Colder Than Death" riffs a la Ian Curtis and Ceremony, "Dream" has a metal flavor to it, and "Gloom Forever" is an aggressive jam for fans of Planes Mistaken For Stars. All of these, in under half an hour, remind you that American Nightmare was always a fearless band. Inspiring dozens after -- Touche Amore pops to mind -- and this is why I can dig the swing away from the ways of old. Hopefully, the bring back the past at some point, but for now, this'll more than suffice.