Addicts: Black Meddle Part II

Assassins: Black Meddle Part I, the first chapter in Nachtmystium’s post-black metal transformation, was aptly named in that it mashed up Floydian psychedelia with the band’s gritty, scuzzy and vaguely punk brand of USBM. When I reviewed the album two years ago, I latched more onto the rippling, expansive sections than the fiercer black-punk explosions (go back and listen to the second half of the title track again), hoping that Assassins’ follow-up would push further into those dimensions of the mind.

Turns out that Blake Judd got most of that experimental ambience out of his system with the new Twilight release (which, at times, actually went too far with that exploration). And so with Addicts: Black Meddle Part II, Nachtmystium is free to mutate again. This time, it’s in a surprisingly different direction, and after establishing a black metal baseline (or, at least as close to it as you’re going to get on Addicts) with “High on Hate,” Judd and company reveal their latest inspiration: early 80’s post-punk.

“Nightfall” sports a snappy backbeat, pulsing bass line, choppy, staccato guitars and a clean-sung chorus. In fact, if you removed Judd’s rasped vocals, you’d be left with something not out of place on a Gang of Four album, or more recently, Franz Ferdinand or The Killers. “No Funeral” further cements the new direction with a Sisters of Mercy/darkwave synth line and steady, lunging dance beat, and although the song isn’t varied enough over its 5-minute length, it still works as a concept.

Now, those two descriptions alone are probably enough to send the purists screaming down to their basements (presumably to smash up their copies of Eulogy IV and Instinct: Decay), but for the rest of you still interested, there are only two more overtly post-punk moments on the album. One is the title track, with a twangy Cure melody and cogent, even singable chorus. The other, “Ruined Life Continuum,” comes late on the disc, and even with its upbeat rhythmic stomp, it’s the most atmospheric of the hybrid tracks.

As for the remainder of the disc, they’re mostly grinding, blackened dirges, similar to things we’ve already heard from Nachtmystium, except that Addicts‘ versions offer more melodic choruses, even with Judd’s hoarse delivery. They’re all solid tracks, though I do find that “The End is Eternal” weighs the center of the album down with its discordant meandering and strange, chirping electronic motif. Since “Eternal” is lodged between a series of other mid-tempo tracks – “Then Fires,” “Addicts” and “Blood Trance Fusion” – it really should have been something much faster or energetic to break up the drone. The second half of “Blood Trance Fusion” does pick up the pace again, but that crescendo needed to happen earlier. Then again, by this point it’s clear Addicts is not going to be as aggressive and sprawling as Assassins, so perhaps the restraint and misery is appropriate. Finally, there’s the hypnotic album closer “Every Last Drop,” which moves back towards ambient psychedelia with its mix of acoustic and slide guitars, slithery, squelchy FX and a soaring guest vocal appearance by Bruce Lamont of Yakuza.

As with Assassins, it seems that the band didn’t fully commit to their experiment, as less than half of Addicts can really be considered post-punk. But when they do embrace that concept, Nachtmystium moves far enough from traditional black metal that it’s more like a post-punk band dabbling with a blacker palette than the other way around. And you know, that doesn’t bother me at all. Addicts is far more interesting than their earlier albums, when Nachtmystium seemed like just another scraping, nihilistic USBM outfit. And truth be told, the genre needs forward-thinking artists like this to continue pushing at the boundaries and experimenting with rebirth — even if means pissing off the purists in the process.

Can’t wait to see what these guys do for Part III.

[ A second opinion of the album is available here. – Ed. ]

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 14th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Myceliom

    Good review. Looking forward to what these boys do next! x

  2. Commented by: gordeth

    I didn’t care for what I heard from their last album but the mention of a post-punk influence has me interested in this one.

  3. Commented by: Stiffy

    Painfully overrated band. I think the controversy over this record is comical.

  4. Commented by: bast

    “the genre needs forward-thinking artists like this to continue pushing at the boundaries and experimenting with rebirth…” That.
    Very good album.

  5. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    ““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 ”

    Bwhahahahahaha !!! What good is being ‘forward thinking’, if the songs are crap ?

  6. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I dug that song, repetitive as it was. there were plenty of industrial/post-punk songs that were repetitive but still cool.

  7. Commented by: bast

    Yes they are an overrated band. The thing is they do manage comercially there image very well, thats part of the problem or the solution…
    Nevertheless songs like “High on Hate” really have an impact…

  8. Commented by: vugelnox

    I just don’t get why people make a big deal over this band.

  9. Commented by: gabaghoul

    vugel you will hate this so don’t even bother :)

  10. Commented by: timmy

    Good job, Kris Y!
    This album shows a band trying to turn heads on status and bark alone.

  11. Commented by: tom957

    I really hope I miss seeing these guys while waiting to see D666.

  12. Commented by: bast

    “We don’t want your loyalty, we reject your trust, we ignore your sympathy, we do what we must.”

  13. Commented by: battlefrost

    I agree with Tom. Seeing them was a total boregasm.

  14. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Everything Blake has done since Instinct:Decay has seemed VERY forced and oppertunistic. Weird for Weird sake. A few random lazer beam sounds does not a psychedelic album make.

  15. Commented by: gabaghoul

    100% disagree, loved the second half of “Assassins” (title track) and the “Seasick” trilogy was terrific too. The use of texture is usually very well done and cohesive – though something like the chirping I mentioned in “The End is Eternal” is an example of a misstep where the FX seems like an afterthought piece of garnish.

  16. Commented by: Cynicgods

    The idea of mixing 80’s post punk and black metal is an appealing one. I just wish it was a better band doing it. ;)

  17. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I do enjoy Nachtmystium somewhat, I’m not a hater. I just wish Blake’s executions matched his ambitions.

  18. Commented by: Paul

    I love this album!! I can see how some people may not dig it, but taken for what it is, it’s a highly entertaining, groove-laden, and – dare I say it – moving album. Consider me a fan.

    Between this and the new Twilight, there is some awesome USBM put out these days. Hopefully WITTR are due for a new one soon.

  19. Commented by: Myceliom

    Biff Tannen – what is your experience of psychedelic music may I ask? What would you consider psychedelic? Just would like to know :)

  20. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Myceliom- Hawkwind,some eras of Floyd, 13th Floor Elevators…….. etc etc shit, even newer Enslaved has ‘psychedelic’ elements to it, with great songwriting to boot. Nachtmystium just puts some random wind and lazer beam noises randomly into their tracks.

  21. Commented by: Jordan Itkowitz

    Biff go back and listen to the tracks I mentioned, that second half of “Assassins” is exactly what I would want from free-flowing psychedelic metal. (I do love Enslaved though and yes they do write much better songs overall)

  22. Commented by: E. Thomas

    New one is really good.

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