American Nightmare - Background Music (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

American Nightmare

Background Music (2001)

Equal Vision

This band has to be the most hyped of all hardcore in print right now. I suppose some of it is due to the rather significant heritage possessed by certain members of the band.

For the uninitiated, American Nightmare has lineage starting back with the uber-popular Ten Yard Fight. When the band broke up, their main songwriter, Anthony Pappalardo went on to form In My Eyes, while his ex-bandmate Tim Cossar went on to form American Nightmare.

Personally, I was never a huge fan of Ten Yard Fight, they were a good band, but simply didn't stick in my head like their contemporaries. I thought the whole football thing was pretty clever, especially for a straight edge band, but otherwise, they didn't really have as much power as their offshoots.

Anyhow, mini-hardcore history lesson, aside, how is the record? Well, their EP was extremely positively recieved, (as you can see in some of the reviews. But in my opinion, it wasn't as groundbreaking as some people felt. And to be fair, neither is this record.

Generally, it follows the formula of intense, screamed vocals, seemingly downtuned guitars, and sludgy bridges not unlike One King Down or early Earth Crisis. But, to use a cliche, "Background Music" is far more than the sum of it's musical parts.

It opens somewhat slowly with "(We Are)", which explodes into my favourite track from the record, "There's a black hole..." which is just plain, mind-fucking awesome.

It's hard to sum up the band musically, and it's also hard to pinpoint what makes the record so enjoyable. I suppose it's easy to point out critic stuff like "strong songwriting, intensity, et al" but you'd best listen to the record, or check out the MP3 samples over at Emusic's Background Music page.

Equal Vision has another winner on it's hands, and for those of you who had become disenfranchised with the state of modern hardcore; those of you who were secretly lusting back for the old days, American Nightmare will rekindle your interest, and remind you (like it did me) why you got into hardcore in the first place.