Avenged Sevenfold

The song starts with chiming bells reminiscent of a horror film soundtrack. Then a wave of sorrowful strings wash in, followed by a fusillade of double-bass drums and a twin-guitar harmony that's practically symphonic. At the one minute mark of the six-plus-minute cut, Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows screams the song title, 'Nightmare,' the prelude ends and the real song begins, revealing the scope and depth of the band's new vision.

'Nightmare' is equal parts attitude and immaculate craftsmanship, a combination of chugging riffs, blazing guitars and snarling vocals that consolidate all of the band's strengths into an epic, infectious thrill ride. If 'Nightmare,' the title track from Avenged Sevenfold's fifth album, is an accurate indication of where the musicians' heads are at, 'Nightmare' (out July 17) will easily be one of the top albums of 2010. The song is available for purchase now on iTunes and can be heard in its entirety on YouTube.

The record was produced by Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem) and mixed by Andy Wallace (Slayer, Sepultura). Much of the music was written before the tragic death of drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan on Dec. 28. While mourning the loss of their friend and bandmate, Avenged Sevenfold recruited one of Sullivan's favorite drummers, Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy, to fill in on the album and seem to have vented their frustration, rage and sorrow on the album.

In August, Portnoy will take the stage with Avenged Sevenfold on the first annual Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, which also features co-headliners Disturbed as well as Stone Sour, Halestorm and Hellyeah. The second stage acts are Airbourne, Hail the Villain and New Medicine.

The tour launches in Minneapolis on Aug. 17 and runs through Oct. 4 in Madison, Wis.