Nachtmystium
Addicts: Black Meddle Part II

I’m willing to stretch my metal arms pretty wide to accommodate a wide variety of the sub-genres that have sprung up in the past decade. This new wave of black metal that Nachtmystium has been courting for a couple albums now was a pretty big deal a few years ago. I still remember the first time I heard Assassins, and can recall how riotous and fun that album was. “Ghosts of Grace” still regularly graces my car stereo speakers, and always causes me to 1) speed, and 2) scream and shout along while playing air guitar across the seam of my pant leg. It’s a wonder I haven’t received a ticket for all the stupid stunts I’ve pulled in traffic for the sake of metal.

I have a hard time with Addicts; not because it isn’t Assassins, but because there’s no consistency. There was a distinct through-line leading from one song to the next on Assassins; the three-part “Seasick” trilogy was the apex of a memorable progression throughout the album as the band rumbled through the dreariness of certain death (“One of these nights, I am going to fucking die,” anyone?). Addicts makes a solid first move with “High on Hate,” then spirals into bizarre dichotomies for the sake of being bizarre and dichotomous. “Nightfall” is, despite its title, arguably the brightest song on the CD, what with its excessive tambourine, clean vocal sing-along chorus, and punky guitar strums. The problem is those elements don’t exactly gel with main man Blake Judd’s hoarse bellows. “No Funeral” goes a step – nay, a leap – further into shit central with a winding, exotic synth lead that loops a little too long for its own good. It’s at about this point that I realized Nachtmystium had jumped the shark.

Sure, Addicts tried reeling me back in with some decent second-half fare, like the post rock-black hybrid “Ruined Life Continuum” or the swelling, crushing closer “Every Last Drop.” However, wading through the boring, ham-fisted doom croon “The End Is Eternal” and the unappealing “Blood Trance Fusion” (which sounds like a kissing cousin to Assassins’ “Omnivore”) is not a walk in the park. For every step Nachtmystium takes in the right direction, it just veers right off course again. It’s like a dog that, for every new trick it learns, it manages to shit on the rug and completely blow its credibility as a good dog.

What hurts Addicts perhaps more so than its shoddy songwriting is its cloistered production. Drums are especially stifled, a gripe I continue to carry from Assassins, while guitars and bass are crisp and dry, leaving the mix flat and uninteresting. I understand that black metal drums are meant, more often than not, to be as dry as a burnt Norwegian church, but this album suffers from its textbook approach to lo-fi drums. Sanford Parker’s production attempts to blend the classic black metal brash with the flighty, experimental jaunts without sacrificing punch, and ultimately Addicts feels listless because of its lack of focus.

Nachtmystium doesn’t need to pander to anybody, but at the same time, Addicts feels masturbatory and unremarkable in every department except that it doesn’t sound quite like anyone else on the market right now. That’s all that I can really say for Nachtmystium at this point: they sound different. I can’t see myself revisiting Addicts again for some time, if ever.

[ Another opinion of the album is available here. Use that review for comments as well. – Ed. ]

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
June 14th, 2010

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