Home > Music > Nightfall – Athenian Echoes (1995)

Nightfall – Athenian Echoes (1995)

This is another one of those bizarre Greek metal albums. Nightfall started off somewhat similarly to other bands in the scene – Necromantia, Rotting Christ, etc. in that they played a relatively atmospheric form of extreme metal – the main difference is that Nightfall supposedly started with death metal. This album does not provide me with such an impression.

Instead, the metallic parts of this album are generally in the form of fast, melodic black metal, although with some very noticeable exceptions. Sometimes, they drop into mid-paced riffing, sometimes the occasional ambient section, and so forth. What this really strikes me as, in fact, is a prototype for what Septicflesh began doing on Ophidian Wheel and eventually refined into their modern style. I’m at a loss to explain how this came about – while two members of this band ended up playing with Septicflesh, they only performed on Septicflesh’s tours, and most certainly after Ophidian Wheel was written. It could be that the ‘Flesh just picked up this album one day and were inspired by it; if so, they’ve certainly improved upon the general approach. To be honest, it’s a bit clunky here.

Athenian Echoes is often seen as Nightfall’s strongest work, and it doesn’t actually begin all that strongly. The first song (Aye Azure) takes a while to get going, between its ‘dramatic’ keyboard opening and bizarre opening riff (Which is mostly rhythmically unusual, being in an odd time signature while the rest of the song is not). It does benefit from the orchestral hits in the bridge, however. The next song (Armada) is better, and actually sounds like an outtake off Ophidian Wheel; more accurately, it would if that album had come first. Rhythmically, it’s quite similar to that album’s title track, although it does have the obligatory blastbeat sections. Things continue to become more interesting as we approach the middle of the album; like many of the albums from the Greek scene, it’s surprisingly accessible due to good production and overall high levels of melody. I say that a lot, frankly; I generally follow it up by claiming I’m not the best guru on accessibility since I have distorted tolerance for extreme metal.

On the other hand, when it’s not dabbling in melodic black metal, Athenian Echoes tries for a lot of “mainstream” things. The keyboards are obviously there, but there is some experimentation with “clean” vocals – I am honestly not sure what to make of them. They are clearly tonal, but they seem to exist for the purpose of being low pitch and processed more than performing melodies. Either way, they are more notable than the competent, but otherwise standard growls that the vocalist uses. Hard to say, really. After this album, the band decided transitioned to a modern “gothic metal” style, apparently without much success; they soon went slinking back to the extreme side of things. Septic Flesh performed a similar stunt with Revolution DNA at about the same time, but even that record had its moments of good songwriting. This one does too, but to those looking to introduce themselves to the Hellenistic scene, Septic Flesh is definitely a better place to start than this.

Highlights: “Ishtar (Celebrate your Beauty)”, “Armada”, “The Vineyard”

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