American Nightmare - Year One (Cover Artwork)

American Nightmare

Year One (2004)

Bridge 9

I see that there are many reviews of the now out of print The Sun Isn't Getting Any Brighter EP. That EP makes up little more than half of Year One, which also includes their self-titled EP and various exclusives that won't be found anywhere else except on this album. When I first picked it up and read that it was a mix of certain hard-to-find material, a thought flashed through my mind: Alkaline Trio's self-titled release of the same rarities, and also the latest Lawrence Arms release, Cocktails and Dreams. This is the same deal, except instead of drunken punk-pop ballads, you get 16 songs of straight-up hardcore that lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Many of Give Up the Ghost's most devoted fans will remember the band as American Nightmare, who had to change their name for legal reasons. This band broke up in 2004 but left behind bands like Some Girls, Renee Heartfelt, and Cloakdagger. They got Jacob Bannon from Converge to do the artwork on this album before scene band Underoath got him to do their latest reissue.

Songs like "The Ice Age Is Coming" will bring back memories of a rabid circle pit and the sweat and tears that were spilled at Give Up the Ghost's insanely heartfelt and energetic live shows. Singer Wes Eisold growls/screams out every word as if his whole body was engulfed in flames and that he was really in your face. This album contains 3 tracks recorded live at the BBC, another bonus including Give Up the Ghost's version of the classic MC5 song "Kick Out the Jams." At first, one would think that from the intro which has Rob Tyner saying, "Kick out the jams motherfuckers!!!" that it was actually the MC5 version, but Give up the Ghost makes it their own and kicks out the fucking jams on the album's longest track (2 minutes, 47 seconds).

The drumming and bass playing definitely sound better than on Give Up the Ghost's other releases. The members sound more into playing the music than ever before. The label that released this (Bridge Nine) considers this the parting gift from Give Up the Ghost, to the music scene that nurtured it. I believe that this in the top three hardcore albums I own, which includes both of Comeback Kid's releases (Turn It Around and Wake the Dead). The standout tracks are "Dead and Gone," which starts out slow but winds up being one of Give up the Ghost's best sing-along hardcore songs, and all the BBC tracks.

A hardcore classic is in my CD player at this very moment. This album is a must-have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre at all. Period.