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Once upon a time, I viewed Nachtmystium as one of the few decent black metal bands left on the planet. The genre has become insanely derivative within the last few years. It took Wolves in the Throne Room to convince me there was still good some good music to be made within this realm, and it was around the time of their release "Two Hunters" that I also started to believe in Nachtmystium. Their earlier releases showed continual progress into a direction that still retained the spirit of black metal, while also dipping into many other styles that black metal fans are often dismissive of such as rock and psychadelia. I eagerly awaited the release of this oddly titled album to see where their lust for supposed exploraton would take them.
When I originally got this, I was indeed impressed, mostly because unlike much of black metal this album is actually pretty fun to listen to. A lot of melodic rock styled riffing is used throughout, sometimes bordering on punk sounding. Its usually the drums which give these songs their heavier qualities, as an awful lot of these riffs probably would'nt even sound like metal if not for the use of blast beats and double bass. The album makes strong use of *gasp* Choruses, complete with super catchy riffs and sing along vocals. There are also quite a few mellow passages as well, most notably during the "Seasick" trilogy.
Blake Judd's vocals were always a little weird, especially for black metal, as they are not quite raspy or shrieking. His vocals consist mainly of hoarse and hateful shouts and screams. Occasionly on this album he employs whispers or an awkward kind of half-singing, which isn't terrible, but it does feel like an overt attempt to be more commercial. This seems even more evident during the albums soaring choruses, where the lyrics are always made coherent enough that you find yourself singing along. The main problem is that Blake Judd just plain can't sing, no matter how much he might want to.
With all good things about this album that I could say its hard to imagine why I would give it such a low review. Well the fact is that for a black metal album, there is a surprising amount of creativity and original ideas...as far as black metal is concerned. And thats the problem, black metal fans don't know any different, mainly because they cannot be bothered to come off their high horse and give credit to any musicians who don't play metal.
Anyone well versed in sixties and seventies rock music could tell you just how shameless Nachtmystium really is. Ever heard of a band called Pink Floyd? Well the funny thing is, over thrity years ago they recorded an album called simply, Meddle. It would seem like an odd coincidence except that the similarities don't end there. Black Meddle Pt. 1 opens with the quasi instrumental intro "One of These Nights", while Floyd's Meddle opens with 'One of These Days." Whats even sadder is that "One of These Nights" is in fact a re-write of the Pink Floyd song, complete with identical riffing, and only slighty different lyrics(Though they are delivered in the same way utilizing a similar voice effect). Wow, pretty fucking low guys.
Well it doesn't even end there. The Pink Floyd influence rears its head on just about every one of these tracks, especially the not at all heavy "Code Negative". Most of the leads are similar to David Gilmore's style, not heavy on flash and shred but with tons of feeling and sustain, and echo for effect. The syle of Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright isn't even changed and many of Wright's signature psych-freak outs and bubbling, churning drone passages are stolen outright(see "Assassins"). Even Black Meddle's epic closing trilogy "Seasick" sounds a little too much in the vain of Meddle's ending suite, the 23 minute "Echoes"(also an ode to the sea).
It's one thing to feel an artists influence, but it's quite another to play their songs, give them different titles, and release them as your own. Whats sad is this will probably go over just about everyones head, as most black metal fans are totally ignorant of the world outside of underground metal. To them, a band like Floyd have sold just a few too many albums to be considered musically valid.
I still have to give credit to Nachtmystium. I mean the fact that they could even get away with something like this only goes to show you how stupid most metal heads are? I wonder how many black metal fans would by this if they only knew how much it owes to one of the most commercialy successful bands of all time. Kudos boys, you have successfully fooled the masses.
...still, this is better than most of what passes for black metal these days.