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Sunday Old School: Nightfall

Those of you who listened to the interview I conducted with Rotting Christ frontman, Sakis Tolis, will have discovered that in addition to being a die Queens Park Rangers fan, I'm a follower of the Greek football club, PAOK (which stands for Panthessalonikios Athlitikos Omilos Konstantinoupoliton, for any of you who insist on pronouncing full names.) While attempting to find a stream of their match against AEL Larissa today, I discovered that the game has been postponed as a result of heavy snow. It may seem strange to think that a hot and usually sunny country such as Greece can produce such weather, but it's not uncommon. Perhaps then it shouldn't come as a shock that the small but fascinating nation has also produced some very dark bands over the past few decades, including one of Gothic metal's early favourites, Nightfall.

Nightfall were formed in the Greek capital of Athens in 1991 by vocalist and bassist Efthimis Karadimas, joined in his endeavour by guitar players Christian Adamou and Mike Galiatsos, as well as a drummer simply known as Sotiris. This lineup recorded the group's first and only demo, "Vanity" that same year. The tape contained four songs with lyrics, as well as an instrumental, an intro and an outro and showcased a death/doom style, which had begun to be popularised by the likes of Anathema and Paradise Lost. While circulating in the metal underground, the demo found its way to France, where Holy Records took notice and offered the band a deal.

The partnership between Nightfall and Holy was an exciting one for both parties as not only did it yield for the first full length album for the group, but also for the label, when they released, "Parade Into Centuries" in 1992. It was received very well by fans of the genre and many point to it as the first extreme metal release from Greece, as well as being cited as a part, or at least an influence on, the Mediterranean black metal scene. This was followed a year later with the single, "Oh Black Queen, Oh You're Mine," which contained two songs, "As Your God Is Failing Once Again" and "Enormous / The Anthem of the Death," which were labelled as the "Blasphemous side" and the "Deadly side" respectively.

Both of these tracks would appear on the group's sophomore full length, "Macabre Sunsets," which would receive a warmer reception to the already positive response that "Parade Into Centuries" garnered. The record showed the band experimenting a little with symphonic sounds at a time when the likes of Dimmu Borgir were just forming and adopting this sound. This was perhaps a sign of things to come, as the 1995 EP, "Eons Aura," began displaying a more Gothic tone and is considered by some fans to the bridge between the death/doom style and the Gothic genre.

For many fans, the transformation was complete that same year, when Nightfall released, "Athenian Echoes," their third full length record. While it maintained a tinge of the black metal sounds from before, it was much more in the vein of Gothic metal. Though not all fans were happy about the direction, it nonetheless has become regarded by others and critics as one of the genre's most important releases, thanks to the varied sounds heard throughout and majestic images conjured up by songs such as "Armada" and "Iris (And the Burning Aureole.)"

Though "Athenian Echoes" earned Nightfall plaudits and admiration, the group split with Chris Adamou and drummer Costas Savidis and entered something of a slump, with the reception to their fourth album, "Lesbian Show," being mixed at best. Though it found a fanbase in the Gothic metal scene and received comparisons to the Sentenced album, "Amok," it was felt by others to be dull and to have strayed too far from their roots for comfort. This sentiment was echoed in 1999 when the band released, their fifth full length, "Diva Futura," which was largely dismissed, with some fans claiming it wasn't even metal.

After splitting with Mike Galiatsos, the band took a break from recording, in part due to a change in record labels, signing with Greek company Black Lotus and a number of lineup changes, which included drummer Mark Cross leaving to join Helloween and go on to play for such groups as Firewind and Tank. Eventually, Nightfall recruited drummer George Kollias and guitarist George Bokos and got to work on their sixth album, which was released in 2003 under the title, "I Am Jesus." Though not one of their strongest work, it was considered something of a return after the previous two albums, as the following album, "Lyssa: Rural Gods and Astonishing Punishments."

Almost immediately after the release of, "Lyssa," the band were dealt two heavy blows as George Bokos left to join fellow Greeks, Rotting Christ and then Kollias quit to join American death metal favourites, Nile. After no announcements were made about replacements, many assumed that Nightfall had split up, an idea which seemed to be strengthened by the lack of albums that followed. Eventually, a new lineup was revealed in 2010, of which Efthimis Karadimas was the sole original member and this new incarnation released the album, "Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants" that same year through Metal Blade Records. Three years later, Nightfall recorded and released their ninth album, "Cassiopeia," which was also met with a good response.

Despite their return in 2010, the band has not performed live in well over ten years, preferring to concentrate on the creative side of their music rather than the so-called "entertainment" aspect. It has also been four years since their last release, leaving fans to wonder when or even if Nightfall will return to the studio and produce another slab of darkness, but whether they do or not, their place as a pioneer in their field and in their country will be assured in the annals of metal history.

Nightfall - "Domestication Into Wildness"

Nightfall - "As Your God Is Falling Once Again"

Nightfall - "Armada"

Nightfall - "Lesbian Show"

Nightfall - "Diva"

Nightfall - "I've Never Dreamt the Life We Share"

Nightfall - "Swollen"

Nightfall - "Ambassador of Mass"

Nightfall - "Stellar Parallax"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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