Nightfall – Cassiopeia (Metal Blade Records)

Friday, 12th April 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

“The Third Wheel and the Farm Team.” It sounds like a buddy comedy with a baseball twist. Imagine all of the clubhouse shenanigans! Rather, this a close descriptor for Greek’s Nightfall, who have the unfortunate distinction of being a distant third in the Greek metal extreme metal race behind Rotting Christ and Septicflesh, but also the place where several “name” players such as Firewind’s Bob Katsionis, Nile’s George Kollias, and journeyman drummer Mark Cross got their start. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Cassiopeia is the band’s ninth album, and second for Metal Blade. Such a step into the big leagues has rubbed off on the band’s tactics – Cassiopeia is miles beyond formative-year albums like Macabre Sunset and the poorly-titled Lesbian Show. Like the above-mentioned combo, Nightfall can’t figure out which side of the death or black metal fence they want to sit on, so they do both, and they do it with gusto and flair. The billowing melodies on “Phatheon” and twin-guitar action on “The Reptile Gods” are instant head-turners. Coarse Goth metal (lots of keyboards, but they’re not shiny) collide with extreme bouts of furry on “Hyperion,” and backward glance to mid-90’s black metal is handled on “The Sand Reckoner.”

Nightfall’s audience will probably comprise of those who have fallen through the Rotting Christ and Septicflesh cracks. Granted, that’s a very small percentage of folks, but there’s an abundance of quality on Cassiopeia. It’s nothing head-turning, or even exotic, but for a band that has been dealt a severely bad hand, it’s a success, if anything else.

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