Brian Knox's ill-fated Secret Santa project had two official releases, Forsaken Overlook and Drown Stone. A few more have trickled out - Joshy did Xaser for Resurgence's MAP31. And, now, we have Skillsaw's gift. Nashville, Tennessee may seem an esoteric title for those not in the know, but most Doomworld regulars will be able to put two and two together and figure out that this is a thinly veiled Secret Santa gift to Memfis, done in the style of what was his most popular release at the time, Kuchitsu. In a case of classic situational irony, Kuchitsu was something Memfis wanted to do as a sort of swan song to a style that he wanted to distance himself from. I can only assume that this level, released two years later in 2015, comes as an unwelcome reminder.
I'm not sure that I'd call Nashville a spot on imitation; my memories of Kuchitsu suggest something a little less cramped and a little more stingy on health. The texture theming is there, though, as well as the irresistible lure of action that's not so challenging that you feel overwhelmed but not so easy that you're in danger of being bored. I made one save, at the very beginning of the level, and then had one non-stop thrill ride all the way to the exit, when I realized that I had been so involved that I had never stopped to check my progress. That's a hard meter to strike, but Skillsaw nailed it - at least, for me. I dunno if I'm just that much more experienced a player or if there were just more supplies laying around... or if I'm just lucky.
The layout is another difference, and a large part of the reason that the action flows so effortlessly. Nashville is basically a linear racetrack, but the route is so piled on top of itself with the use of height variation that you barely have any time to think about the railroad. The one major exception is the little cove off the southeastern section of the map, a nice little detour. Perfectly in line with Kuchitsu, however, is the level's use of low-tier enemies, with the occasional Hell knight or revenant thrown in to give you pause. The most intense fight I think is a fairly meaty teleport ambush at the top of the level that you'll naturally try to use the super shotgun for. Almost all of the gunplay is with the shotgun and chaingun, with the combat shotgun showing up for the final third or so.
Certainly, if nothing else, Nashville succeeds at bringing Skillsaw out of the move-or-die style of combat that has characterized most of his modern mapping career and into something more at home with the "classics" (complete with Mark Klem track), and it's an easy recommendation to make given its superb playability. I hope you enjoy it!