Review Summary: Athenian Echoes is a blend of melodic death, black, doom and gothic metal that leads to a dark, atmospheric album.
The early ‘90s Greek metal scene was a tough place to survive. Production was a huge issue as good music was hindered by the studios’ limited know-how. Distribution and marketing were limited and another concern was the lack of skillful drummers in the market. Numerous bands were dissatisfied by their current drummers and as a result they were either using drum machines or were constantly on the lookout for proficient musicians. Despite these barriers, there were three bands that managed to produce quality music and at the same time gain international reputation; Rotting Christ, Nightfall and Septic Flesh. All three bands played some form of extreme metal and coincidentally (?) released their best material around the mid ‘90s.
is Nightfall’s third release and it’s a very interesting blend of black, melodeath, doom and gothic metal. Those who are familiar with the band, already know that their first two albums were dominated by black, death and doom tendencies but at the time of the album’s inception, Paradise Lost were huge in the metal world. Consequently, various bands were incorporating elements of the Brits in their music. As a result, “Armada”, one of the album’s highlights, is a very melodic gothic influenced track with a black metal break at the middle of the song. In the same vein, “My Red, Red Moon” with its peculiar dancing beat at the beginning and the memorable guitar riff is reminiscent of Paradise Lost’s Icon
days. Almost all songs are adventurous with several changes in tempo and mood which impact their duration; no track is shorter than 4:46. Of course, there are faster tracks such as the opener “Aye Azure” or “I’m a Daemond” which starts slowly with a piano and develops into a black metal track. “Ishtar” is also one of the standouts with some really cool Eastern vibes and epic guitar parts while “The Vineyard” features some beautiful flute interludes. There are parts of the album that might also bring to mind Therion’s Beyond Sanctorum
and others that remind early Rotting Christ with the epic nature of black metal displayed on Triarchy of The Lost Lovers
and A Dead Poem
. Such a track is “Iris” that brings together atmospheric black with doom/death metal. Lastly, closer “Monuments of Its Own Magnificence” is the least adventurous track of the album as it’s a mid tempo doom/death/gothic song.
In the negatives, the album might not seem brutal or fast enough for a death or black metal release to some. In addition, Athenian Echoes
might feel a bit disjointed and unfocused to the ears of a few listeners due to the fusion of various genres.
Unfortunately after this album, Nightfall changed almost completely their lineup in an attempt to modify their sound. They shifted towards a more European gothic metal path similar to what Paradise Lost did and even though, their next effort, Lesbian Show
is a great album they never managed to reach the highs of Athenian Echoes
on their following releases.