It feels like American Nightmare are something of a lost band in US hardcore. Neither of their 2000s albums were released under that name for a start (instead through their earlier moniker of Give Up The Ghost), and their most noticeable achievements consist of the other projects of their members, including Cold Cave, Head Automatica and some little band called My Chemical Romance.
But apparently the demand for American Nightmare extended beyond their sporadic reunion shows since 2011, and the buzz has culminated in this self-titled album. And it’s definitely worth a listen because, if there’s an album that shows how the volume of buzz doesn’t equal its quality, it would be this one. In fact, it’d probably be a misnomer to call this an album at all. More a bitty collection of half-formed ideas that, even then, would take obscene amounts of work to fashion into something decent.
Even at its very best, American Nightmare can only ever graze satisfactory and struggle to elevate themselves any further. ‘Colder Than Death’ is the sole, goth-tinged highlight, but the likes of ‘War’ and ‘Crisis Of Faith’ are solid enough, in the mould of basic hardcore that doesn’t push any boundaries whatsoever. But considering this album is only twenty minutes long, and two of the nine tracks feel utterly disposable by clocking in at just over half a minute each, the fragmented nature of it makes it difficult to find any real satisfaction. Factor in lyrics and a vocal performance from Wesley Eisold that are nothing special, and there’s something so frustratingly throwaway about this album that’s hard to avoid.
It’s tough to know what to actually say, as American Nightmare offer so little to work with. There’s barely anything that sparks a reaction here, let alone stands out. Even though it’s not a particularly awful album, it feels rushed and abortive in the least appealing way possible. Perhaps there’s appeal to be found here by some, but that’s a slim chance indeed.
‘American Nightmare’ by American Nightmare is out now on Rise Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)