Nightfall – Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants (Metal Blade Records)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

For those unfamiliar with Nightfall, they’re one of the more important bands that have risen from the Greek scene. The band has been around since 1991, and has seen many incarnations – both in style and in lineup. Nightfall has always been a difficult band to peg down, playing a variety of styles in different combinations throughout the years. Everything from black metal to gothic metal, they’ve been there and done it. A split occurred in 2006, and now with a reunion four years later, we arrive at the resultant album, Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants

As mentioned previously, this has never been a band where you knew what to expect. Take a band like AC/DC, for example. Nothing has ever changed in their sound, and whenever they came out with their next disc, not a soul had the slightest suspicion of not knowing what they were going to get. Nightfall has never been such a band. With this fact in mind – as well as factoring in the band being broken up for four years until now – there was no chance that anybody had the slightest of what to expect. As usual, Nightfall have produced something not quite like they have before, and this time around it is quite delightful indeed. The result is a hybrid of black, gothic and a touch of symphonic metal that comes together in an exceedingly coherent package. The idea of such a sound may drive some away, but if you know anything about Nightfall, it’s to not expect anything too traditional.

The highlight of the album is that it flows together so well. It’s hard to judge it on a song-by-song basis, as this is a flowing piece of music of which all the tracks connect. However, a few songs do stand out a little, with “Ambassador of Mass” being one of them. It’s crushingly heavy, but with a sense of melancholy draping over the thunderous drums and incessantly crunchy guitars. “Archon Basilews” is another that popped out for me, with a pressingly symphonic feel to it, with a healthy dose of speed and thrashiness for good measure. However, the full impact of this album is felt when you listen to it all in one sitting. The experience is far greater that way, and the album sinks in more over repeated listens.

On the performance end, vocalist Efthimis Karadimas has really outdone himself on this record. From the range of guttural growls to haunting clean passages, he displays not only an impressive range, but also a forceful feel that is no doubt impressive. Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants also features two new members of the band, guitarist Evan Hensley and drummer Jörg Uken. Both perform fantastically, bringing a fresh new light to the band that was categorically needed. The production is also super clean, which is a desirable output for an album of this vein, with nothing lost in the mix and everything coming out just right.

Hopefully Nightfall 2010 will stay together, as the revolving door of members has certainly hurt the band in the past. At their current pace, the group may be on the verge of finally gaining more attention, something of which is much overdue. Stability could be the key, and if this release is any indicator, Nightfall may have a combination that they’d be wise to stick with. If you want something fresh with a tight meshing of the high points of a few great styles, this disc should be a worthwhile endeavor. Expectations have certainly risen with this release, and with a well-done return album under their belt, it’s up to them to keep the ship going strong.

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