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Black metal like any other metal sub-genre is constantly proliferating into the many varying spheres of music. Bands like Beherit and Ildjarn took the ambient route. Enslaved, early this decade, plunged into the progressive realm of things and very recently the mighty Darkthrone released a very crusty, punk influenced F.O.A.D. Now that I have made a very apt introduction about bands and their changing musical direction, I present you Nachtmystium’s latest effort – Assassins: Black Meddle Part I. The album is, without a shadow of doubt, starkly different from ‘Eulogy IV’ or for that matter ‘Instinct: Decay’. In my opinion, ‘Eulogy IV’ put Nachtmystium at the forefront of the USBM scene and with the release of the ‘Instinct: Decay’, they had reached the pinnacle of their fame. ‘Assassins’ however provides a step in a new direction for the band.
The album, without digressing into technical mumbo-jumbo, is replete with half-hearted pseudo psychedelic effects combined with a very mild form of black metal. The production is very unlike any entity that deserves to be given the black metal tag; it’s crisp, clean and has mainstream written all over it. The album opens up with a vapid minimalistic guitar riff, which definitely brings to mind the first chugga-chugga riff any amateur (like me) would’ve ever experimented with. Not a very promising start to the album and just when one hopes for something novel, you are greeted with a three minute long sappy piece at the end of the second track ‘Assassins’, which mostly consists of random electronic bleeps and effects. I close my eyes during this period in hope of it inciting even a remote psychedelic experience. It’s safe to say that it fails to deliver. Probably, the band has got the definition of ‘Psychedelic’ all wrong. The album thus proceeds in a mundane and boring fashion.
The drumming on the record varies from dull, like on the first four tracks, to something noteworthy, like on ‘Omnivore’, the seventh track on the album. The album redeems itself with ‘Omnivore’ and with flashes of good ideas on ‘Seasick Part II’. These two tracks are my favorite, or should I say listenable, tracks on the album. ‘Omnivore’ retains bits and pieces of the old entity – eerie blackmetalesque guitar lines with blast beats. ‘Seasick Part II’ is more experimental in nature and is well conceptualized and executed. I must say, Nachtmystium have outdone themselves in this aspect. The track couples a neat guitar solo with a layer of saxophone and yet it manages to come off as well orchestrated. Like the music, Blake has drastically changed his style of vocal delivery. Not to my liking, but it is more comprehensible and clearer as compared to the previous records.
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the album on the whole, but to be fair to the band’s efforts and their new-found direction, there were a couple of ideas which I believe with retouching could turn out into something memorable. Nachtmystium are, in a way, carving a niche for themselves in black metal. They may have settled on the new direction but the album failed to capture what they may have/ could have envisioned. All is not lost. If this album is titled ‘…Part I’, then a ‘…Part II’ should be there in the offing. Nachtmystium needs to rethink and re-analyze this album for a better release in the future.