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 This is not at all to suggest the sound is outdated but rather to extol its virtues as a classic sound.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’.
The band was formed by Eric Aittala in 1992 in Raleigh, North Carolina and released a short EP, but then remained dormant for many years. After a long break, the project was brought back when Aittala released their first full length album in 2009, ‘Bed of Thorns’.
The band went on to release two more LPs in 2011 and in 2014 (‘Haunt Your Flesh’ and ‘Effigy’). After various lineup changes, there has been a stable, strong lineup consisting of Eric Aittala on the lead guitar and vocals, Gary Smith on drums, and Andrew Sullivan on the bass.
The new album was recorded at Incognito Studios, Raleigh NC. It was mixed and mastered by Mike Schaefer at Schaefer Sound Productions.
Aittala really blends a ton of genres together on this release. The old school metal feel takes people back to their roots of when they started listening to metal in the first place.
The doom and blues sounds show the power that riffs can hold and will have your head nodding along with the music. The riffs really set the tone for a dark, fun album. “American Nightmare” leads you into the album with plenty of riffage and aggressive vocals from the lead man. This song manages to mix the new era sound of metal and also the old school sound, one of my favorite tracks.
On the track “Leave”, the band shows their versatile song writing abilities by composing a more ballad-like song.
The closing track, “Rise” is filled with catchy riffs and bridges. Then it kicks into more heavy hitting riffs and guitar solos that will move the soul.
All in all, a very diverse record by an experienced band. Make sure to subscribe to them on YouTube and to go and buy the album on their website or BandCamp page. Below you can stream the album or watch the music video for the title track, “American Nightmare”.
Also be sure to follow them on Facebook.

Reviewed by dangerdog.com
4.0/5.0

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

Recorded at Incognito Studios in Raleigh, North Carolina, "American Nightmare" is the the latest release from U.S. metal band Aittala. It serves as the long-awaited follow-up to 2014's "Effigy" and features ten new songs including the thrashed-up title track.
Due out on December 6th in digital form and on CD, "American Nightmare" is the 4th full-length recording from the darkly-tinted Aittala and it finds band founder (and sole original member) Eric Aittala (guitar/lead vox) covering a lot of ground (genre-wise) as he is joined by drummer Gary "Zeus'" Smith and bass player Andrew Sullivan.
The aforementioned "American Nightmare" starts things off on the right foot and from there you have progressive doom ("Unsung"), alternative dark metal ("Essence"), and a groove-laden heavy & hard rock number called "Brainwashed". The sorrowful rock ballad "Forgot" shows up next and even though it slows things down a little it is sincere number that seems well-placed as the album's fifth song. Sounding deeply personally in natural, "Forgot" is a melancholy track that sounds as though it could have come straight from the early nineties (pre-grunge) hard rock scene. It is also one of the lighter tracks on "American Nightmare".
Moving past "Forgot" we pick up some steam with the effective song "No Questions" (90's alternative hard rock meets a doom-influenced Helmet?) and then we have "Leave". A rock radio-worthy song that is a nice mash-up of modern hard rock and heavy rock(!), "Leave" is one of many stand-out tracks on this album and it eventually gives way to the classic rock-infused number, "Incognito".
Along with "Forgot", "Incognito" is a good song that, at first spin, sounds somewhat out of place on a hard & heavy recording like this. Repeated listens disprove that initial observation, but it's still a good idea to know what you are heading into! Doom metal comes back into play on the hard rock cut "Pandora's Box" and then "Rise" finishing things off just right thanks to it's (slick) combination of hard rock, classic heavy metal, and progressive dark metal.
With lyrics and music by lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Aittala, "American Nightmare" is a great collection of songs that have that familiar Aittala sound and message, but with a renewed sense of urgency and, above all else, creativity! The album stacks up nicely alongside the group's previous album, "Effigy", and it shows just how far Eric has come as a musician and songwriter since first putting this band together way back in 1992. Well worth the two year wait, "American Nightmare" is A+ effort from this sadly-underrated metal band and it can be found online by clicking here.