The Life We Left Behind

These days, talk about Nachtmystium is inseparable from talk about the group’s main man, Blake Judd. I have never been much of a follower of the people behind the music I listen to, for the reason that I am almost always disappointed to hear about what fucked up things they’re doing in their lives. I’ve learned that it’s better to just take the music on its own terms so that the experience isn’t sullied by the thought of the personalities and/or their problems behind the music. So, I’m not going to talk about it in this review.

Nachtmystium‘s transformations over the course of its existence are many. 2012’s Silencing Machine was a welcome return to form for many listeners worn out on the progressive explorations of the previous two, Assassins and Addicts. It raged with a fury that had never really been seen from the band, even on its earlier works which exhibited a more suicidal type of melancholy.

Their latest offering dials down the intensity from Silencing Machine several notches. The production is much gentler. The guitars lack the razor-sharp edge of those on Silencing Machine, and the drums lack punch. Overall, everything sounds warmer. This serves to highlight the melodies that are present, like a more progressive sounding Cirith Gorgor or Kvist, but generally lacking in blastbeats. Songs are content to lope along at a mid-paced bob, evoking something of the more thoughtful moments on Instinct: Decay. There are more post-punk melodies integrated, not quite to the extent of Alcest, but enough so that some of the songs might be mistaken for darker indie rock minus the black metal vocals (see “On The Other Side”). There are also several deliberate electronics interspersed, especially on “Into the Endless Abyss” and the title track and “Tear You Down.”

None of it really comes together though, and I can’t put my finger on exactly why. The songs don’t gather much momentum, although it feels like they should. They just don’t. For instance on “Tear You Down,” the song transitions into some glitchy electronic stuff above the guitars before launching into blastbeats, but for some reason it has very little impact. Maybe it’s the production, or maybe it’s because I’ve heard this kind of thing done before, better, so many times. The electronic and effectsy touches on the album don’t sound “progressive,” they sound like something not really desirable thrown in for good measure. And for lack of a better word, the album just sounds tired. The cringeworthy climax of “On The Other Side” which goes, “No more sickness, no more struggle, can’t believe I did this, but today it’s gone!” fails pretty badly.

In the end, this album falls flat for me. It doesn’t have the teeth that Silencing Machine did, and it somehow lacks the dark mystery that permeated Instinct: Decay. The title track especially feels like it could have hit way harder than it does. At this point, I’d put my money on the production as the main culprit here, but who can say?

The other side of the coin is that Nachtmystium has redeemed itself before, and might again. I am disappointed in The World We Left Behind, but I know better than to write off the band entirely on that basis alone.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
August 27th, 2014


  1. Commented by: Andy Synn

    I actually really like this album, but I think the main problem with it (which might be contributing to your own sense of ambivalence towards it) is the sequencing of the tracks. The flow is just a bit… off. Should perhaps have been looked at and fiddled around with a bit more.

  2. Commented by: bast

    I like it too, it has some surprisingly obvious flaws yes, but overall it is quite enjoyable. From what I get reading your review, you didn’t love that much the “progressive explorations” on Assassins and Addicts, maybe that’s why you don’t like this much neither?

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