Reviews of 'American Nightmare'
Reviewed by fuelthescene.com
Aittala is a band that actually has quite a long history. Mainman Eric Aittala began writing songs and performing under this moniker back in the ‘90s and went through several stints with different bands before finally deciding to make his namesake project his sole focus in 2009. American Nightmare is the fourth full-length album to come from the band. The first release from the band was a 3-song EP released in the summer of 1993 titled Selling Heaven. It would be another 16 years before another release would come from the band with 2009’s Bed of Thorns. 2011 and 2014 saw Haunt Your Flesh and Effigy respectively, and for the past several years, the band has been steadily writing and releasing material with only two-year gaps between albums.
Heavy metal would perhaps be the most apt genre in which to place the band and in particular this new album. A far cry from the ubiquitous death metal or [insert term]-core bands, Aittala’s approach is a far more classic metal feel and sound. Everything from the production to the song writing to the lyrics seems to drip with metal that would have been very at home in the ‘80s and ‘90s. A case in point is the fact that the song “Brainwashed” was written in 1996; a full 20 years before being recorded. This is not at all to suggest the sound is outdated but rather to extol its virtues as a classic sound.
The riffs seem to alternate between a very straight-forward heavy metal sound (almost like a very heavy AC/DC as certain points), a groove metal headbanger sound, and even a bit of blues. Songs like “American Nightmare” have an infectious groove that will undoubtedly get your head nodding right away. That particular song’s main riff is a perfect one to throw on when you are about to hit the gym and do some damage. Although my favorite riff is, without a doubt, “Unsung,” which grabs you with its simplicity mixed with raw power to get you in the mood to headbang. The song seems reminiscent of many of the heavy grooves Biohazard was known for.
As befits the band’s more classic ‘80s/’90s style, the songs are rather straight-forward in their structure without a lot of change in tempo or timbre. Aittala knows what they want to say and play and they get right to it. The vocals at first listen seem a bit out of place but they are intended to be a bit different. That being said, perhaps a bit more aggression in the vocals (a la Tom Araya or Evan Seinfeld) would push some of those heavy moments over the top. Songs like the title track seem to yearn for a bit more intensity in the vocals which I’d imagine is captured in Aittala’s live performances. As for the melodic singing, it would be great to see the band develop some melodies further and explore some more of Eric’s range in future releases, particularly in the softer tunes such as the much more sullen acoustic number “Forgot.”
Overall, American Nightmare is a love letter to classic roots of heavy metal. It has a raw, garage band (harkening to when that was a descriptive term, not some app on a computer) charm that certainly makes them a very unique specimen. Their “I play what I want” attitude is evident in every note of each song, which makes it very easy to embrace the energy of the album. For fans of the old school, this album will be a welcome addition to any collection.
Reviewed by Low Gain on metalnexus.net
On December 6th, 2016, Aittala unleashed their 4th full length LP: ‘American Nightmare’.
Reviewed by dangerdog.com
From Raleigh, North Carolina, Aittala is the creation of guitarist and composer Eric Aittala. He's been at this gig since 1992, but only started cutting full-length albums beginning in 2009 with Bed Of Thorns with two more following, all independently released. He returns with his fourth album American Nightmare.
It's not difficult to pin down Aittala's heavy metal sound. I'm thinking some classic heavy metal like Black Sabbath and then mid-period Metallica, all washed through down-tuned grunge (he started in 1992 after all), with maybe some a stoner or doom metal vibe dropped in. Aittala's compositions are heavy with large thick riffage and an equally thick bottom end. After this he fills his songs with satisfying traditional, sometimes neo-classical, leads.
As a vocalist, Aittala sings clean with melody and significant control. I didn't hear him go screamo on any occasion. Actually, sometimes, like the timbre of riffage, he has both a monotone and memorable quality to his voice. In this combination, and not having heard previous albums, I'm guessing Aittala pretty much sounds the same across said albums. Say what you will, that's not necessarily redundancy, but rather consistency. Essentially, Mr Aittala has branded himself and his sound. Yet the real kicker about the Aittala sound is that, amidst the heavier heavy metal, he weaves in a strong groove that easily draws from Seventies heavy rock.
Considering the songs within, most fit the aforementioned description being heavy, groovy, and fired up with flashy leads. Yet two songs caught my attention as the swerved away from that motif. One was Forgot, something of a metal ballad, and laced with acoustic guitar, it has a bit of sweeter sound. Another song of interest is Incognito. Once more acoustic guitar leads before the riffs come in, yet the bass line also rises to lead as well. And Aittala's fine solo in the latter third provides the crowning moment.
Suffice to say I liked what I heard, though I don't know if, after this review is published, American Nightmare will stay in some current rotation at Dangerdog HQ. (With all the stuff pitched to me, nothing stays in rotation very long anyway.) No matter, you should definitely check out Aittala, you might like what your hear too. Recommended.
Reviewed by Heavy Metal Time Machine