I Am Jesus
Review by Joshua on October 1, 2003.
Having heard that Nightfall released a new CD, I was interested in hearing how their sound had evolved since "Diva Futura". Their last two albums departed from their original style, and added an up-tempo rock undercurrent to everything, which became the dominant playing style on "Diva". Longtime fans weren't impressed. With "I Am Jesus", though, Nightfall regressed to an earlier playing style, closer to what we heard on "Athenian Echoes". They're playing death metal again; mid-tempo, progressive, keyboard-laden death metal, but death metal nonetheless, in the unmistakable Greek style. Not only are they playing death metal, but they're doing it reasonably well.
This album sounded trite at a first listen, as the transitions between melodic and more aggressive passages are fairly predictable, but it's easy to miss some complexities. Their use of melody and atmosphere is strikingly proficient in many places, and their slow, smooth riffing rarely misfires. The band alternates heaviness and melody in an interesting fashion, without falling victim to verse/chorus/verse monotony. In fact, I've found myself listening to this album more intently as time wears on, every time finding something I hadn't recognized before.
On the other hand, Nightfall have a nasty habit of making atmospheric segments too long to stay interesting, which hurts some songs' listenability. Equally annoying, the use of synthesizers drowns out other instruments on a couple of tracks, giving them a cheesy, whitewashed feel. It sounds in places as if they cared too much about keyboard-driven atmosphere, not enough about making other instruments discernible. Their slower songs, especially, are oddly mixed, so that the keyboards are louder then drums. Sometimes one can barely hear guitars or bass.
Overall, the album is a good, solid offering of heavy, melodic death metal, but it can't be called spectacular. Some songs really work, but detracting from these are a couple that grow really tedious, and an overdependence on atmosphere. If Nightfall continues to explore this playing style, and polishes up a boring patch or two, their next album could be incredible. This one is merely above average.
Bottom Line: Heavy, slow to mid-tempo, and very atmospheric, this album is interesting in many places, but doesn't always hold the listener's attention. It's good, and definitely worth a listen, but sometimes concentrates too heavily on keyboard-laden atmosphere.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 6.5 out of 10