Here's another band who have been around for some time but are nonetheless new to me. Singer and bassist Efthimis Karadimas formed Nightfall in Athens, Greece way back in 1991 and the band put out nine albums before this one, apparently evolving as they did so through quite the variety of genres. Metal Archives says they started out as melodic black/death/doom metal, morphed into gothic metal or rock and then moved back to their roots. Wikipedia says that, along with Moonspell, which I know, and Inciuvatu, which I don't, they introduced a "Mediterranean way to black metal".
Whatever we call this, it's emphatic. After a dark piano intro with keyboards building behind it like a trailer to a horror film, the opening track proper tells us in no uncertain terms that the band mean to hit us hard. Perhaps it's because they've been gone for a while. They kinda sorta split up from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 until now, so some people are surprised to see them back. Maybe they want to underline that not only are they back but they're back with a vengeance.
This opening track is Killing Moon and everything in it is done with emphasis. Fotis Bernardo, a new fish on drums, especially means to really thump them hard and the production does a fantastic job of aiding him in that. The tempo ratchets up nicely too, so that we could often almost see this as thrash metal rather than the melodic death metal it's closer to. It really doesn't hang around, especially in a frantic midsection, but the tone is always a little deeper and Karadimas's voice growls and bellows.
I have to say that I like the faster sections more than the slower ones, but the band do both well and I can't complain about how heavy it all feels. Witches opens up like Seasons of the Abyss era Slayer and that's heavy indeed. However, when they speed up, like on Killing Moon and Darkness Forever, I found more of a Kreator vibe than anything off Reign in Blood.
Nightfall are more varied at slower tempos, adding in black metal on Witches, gothic metal on Giants of Anger and death metal on, well, pretty much everything else. There are other sounds here that may not come from any of them. Temenos has a vibe that's halfway between a heavy Blue Öyster Cult song and something by one of those black metal bands who abandoned the genre for something a lot more commercial like, say, Satyricon. Meteor Gods starts out with choral vocals that sound ethnic. Martyrs of the Cult of the Dead has a bombastic flavour from outside extreme metal, though it's extremed up.
In short, there's a lot here and I'm digging the way that Nightfall merge genres. The most interesting music I've heard over the last few years has been from artists or bands who ditch all traditional marks of boundaries and create whatever they want, whatever box or boxes it might end up in. Nightfall are clearly masters of that. These songs move back and forth between pretty much every flavour of metal without any of it seeming inappropriate. The title track can drop into a quiet melodic line or spoken word because it feels like it and suddenly we're remembering that there's progressive metal too. It's like they want to check off all the boxes and that's not a bad thing.
Now, it seems like I have nine Nightfall albums to catch up on. I've been finding some wonderful stuff coming out of Greece, but it's new. I like that there's still wonderful stuff from Greece that's old too, beyond what I already knew about.