Nightfall ‘Cassiopeia’ Album Review

The Greek symphonic black metal act ‘Nightfall’ was formed in 1991. The band apparently split up in 2005 (although no official announcement was ever made) but the band was rebuilt in 2009 when American guitarist Evan Hensley was invited to join up, and German drummer and producer Jörg Uken replaced George Kollias on drums. This new line-up attracted the interest of Metal Blade Records, and in 2010 the band released the highly praised “Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants” album.

In 2011, the band added two new members: Constantine (guitars) and Stathis Ridis (bass).

Nightfall’s new album, ‘Cassiopeia’ is in stores January 22nd 2013.

The album starts with ‘Phaethon’. Right away we realize that we must travel through a rustic and tangled pathway, as we weave our way on a journey into dark fantasy. It is a journey that we undertake with a sense of wonder. And without trepidation. After the twining guitars, sumptuous chords will regale us, and the jubilant riffs will ennoble and support those churning vocals. Then everything becomes alight – as twisting laser sharp guitars play in the darkness. This will be an ornate and luxurious ride. So be sure to go forward. Or all will be lost.

‘Oberon & Titania’ is a magnificent song of ceaseless passion. It starts with an angular clanging riff – and percussion that reminds us of a sword being heavily crashed against a shield of iron. This sound depicts the eternal power/love struggle between the faery King Oberon, and his Queen Titania. The head bobbing verse – growled out (by Efthimis Karadimas) rises like a spectre in the night. Rapid bursts of stimulating sound start to create a maenad beast of frenzied power. Only the radiant beauty of the ascending guitars, (Constantine and Evan Hensley), in the last quarter of the song, offer any hope of salvation from the all-consuming rawness of this piece.

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‘Colonize Cultures’ is more frenzied. A futile clash. A war raging between human rationality and emotional control. With chugging chords and swirling patterns of sound, the heaving and braying voice calls out to us in an eerie chant.

And ‘The Nightwatch’ is translucent and reminiscent. Of bygone times. For lovers of old-fashioned metal. There is much here to entertain you. Similarly, the power and the general behaviour of ‘Stellar Parallax’ will remind you of classic NWOBHM . Entertaining and seductive. Then ‘Hubris’ has a plinky-plonky keyboard tucked in against the chords and smoky black rhythms.

The song ‘The Reptile Gods’ is said to be inspired by David Icke’s theory of a secret group of reptilian humanoids ( the Babylonian Brotherhood.) The theory is that these lizards control humanity. This proposition also refers to the general concept of the entire album: A study of human arrogance – as seen from a distance.

In mythology, Cassiopeia was punished by Poseidon – she was banished into heaven for perpetuity – upon a celestial throne of torture. She, for evermore, looks down upon the world of man. Contemplating his vanity. The ‘Salamanders’ referred to in the chorus may remind us of the legendary occult creatures that were often portrayed as mischievous lizard-like fire elementals.

This song is a rich brew. Not quite as easily digestible as the other tracks. Although it feels devitalising, the song churns with melodic interplay and tightly woven motifs.

Track ‘Akhenaton, the 9th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty’’ is a cache of sounds and progressive influences. Wide ranging in style and speculation. Agreeable entwining guitars lucidly illustrate this sumptuous feast of sounds.

And ‘Akhenaton’ leads us with inevitable ease to the aching and munificent track ‘The Sand Reckoner’ with those rumbling bass lines ( from Stathis Ridis ) and the type of squirming, twisted, harmonic magnitude you might expect from Cradle of Filth (circa the 2004 ‘Nymphetamine’ era.)

Finally ‘Astropolis’ (city of stars) closes in and suffocates us within its black hood of grotesquely polluting power. You will submit, with grace, to the intense inventive domination of this blazoned beast.

This is a master-work of decorated melody and fine musical arrangement. An impressive creation from these veterans of the Greek death metal. Highly recommended.

8/10

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