Release DetailsLABEL Black Lotus
RELEASED ON 12/10/2004
LYSSA / Rural Gods & Astonishing Punishment
posted on 12/2004 By:
This is the seventh full-length album released in the span of Nightfall’s thirteen-year existence and being aware of this lengthy tenure, I was expecting a developed sound and musical maturity of a notable stature. Despite my limited prior experience of Nightfall, as an introduction to the band I found on LYSSA/Rural Gods of Astonishing Punishments neither the maturity nor stature I expected. Their website biography speaks of an ongoing stylistic evolution that began twelve years ago and has culminated in these eleven songs of mid-paced metal with doom tendencies and gothic undertones, all of which comes off as both uninspired and uninspiring.
LYSSA/Rural Gods of Astonishing Punishments opens with fifteen seconds of a single voice chanting an ominous, occult verse that provides one of the more interesting sections of the album, which, as I’m sure you can figure out, is not really a good thing. The chant stops and George Kollias, who is now drumming for Stateside death metal champs Nile, comes in with some interesting cymbal work; Kollias’s drumming, for better or for worse, will end up being the most standout musical aspect of the album. The vocals follow and are growled in a uniform, standard fashion that, like everything else on this recording, seem to meld together with the rest of the instruments in a way that makes listening a tedious undertaking after five or six songs (or less).
The guitar work never grabbed my attention at any point due to a combination of rather bland instrumentation and a recording that leaves the individual parts coalescing together in a melodically ambiguous and energy-sapped manner. Sparse emotion, passion, or musical excitement comes through in the songs, which did little to make me want to stick with the album in its entirety. If Kollias’s drumming were given due prominence on the recording there’d be more to take interest with on this release, since, as mentioned above, little is offered in the guitar department, but the drums are filtered through the guitar distortion and given little notoriety at any point. Like I said, the pace of the album is tilted towards the slower end of the spectrum, which is by no means an automatic shortcoming, but in Nightfall’s case it turned listening to the release from beginning to end into an ongoing process of anticipation, always hoping that the next part would hold something exciting, interesting or, at the very least, creative. Unfortunately this hope for anything truly positive never transpired.
I found little on LYSSA/Rural Gods of Astonishing Punishment to appease my desire for music played with conviction, creativity, or exploration of any form. The musicianship is relatively tight and I have no complaints about their abilities as musicians. It is what Nightfall have chosen to do (or not do) with their abilities that I object most to. Fans of black metal might enjoy the buried, saddened melodies while for fans of doom metal there is the slower pace of the album; however, both may lose interest once it becomes apparent that Nightfall never reach any real level of intensity or impressiveness beyond what would be expected of, say, a young band’s first release, if that.
If you’re a fan of Nightfall’s prior releases, you might want to check this out; perhaps you’ll find something in their music that I’ve overlooked or haven’t been sensitive enough to pick up on. But from my perspective as a fairly open-minded reviewer, I found little in this release that impresses or warrants repeated listening.
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