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Pushing the envelope...but is it enough? - 82%

TheAbyssalArchivist, June 6th, 2017

A preface: I love Pink Floyd. To me they are one of music's pinnacles, the greatest prog rock band of all time, and just plain awesome. I love black metal. To me it's one of the pinnacle genres of music. Mixing the two is a dream come true, and when I first heard of Nachtmystium in 2014, shortly after the whole crap with Blake Judd (while I separate art from artist, I have no shame in saying that man is a total fuckup) began, their album "The World We Left Behind" didn't strike me as all that much. So I moved on from them for the time being. Later, I returned to Nachtmystum to explore their entire discography and upon finding the Assassins: Black Meddle duology, I began to see what people were talking about. However, in the grand scheme of things, I was left kind of underwhelmed.

First things first, the good stuff about this album. It's produced quite well. Not overly clean but definitely clean enough to accommodate the psychedelic influences and eerie (yet not traditional-black-metal eerie) atmosphere. The guitar work is more rhythmic than melodic, and does fit into a typical black metal style. Unlike typical black metal, the bass has more prominence than previous Nachtmystium albums. However, the musical emphasis is on keyboards and the general experimental atmosphere. Keyboards, ambience, and samples are the most prominent in the mix and instruments like the Moog and saxophone can be heard on certain songs. Judd's vocals have a rough yet rather understandable aura to them, unlike typical shrieks.

While for the most part an excellent bit of experimental black metal, there are some flaws to this album. Firstly, it could have been longer. I have no problem with albums trimming the fat, but the hype of Pink Floyd meets black metal is too much to NOT warrant unapologetically bloated progfests. This album has no counterpart to "Shine On..." or "Echoes". The use of "exotic" instruments (for black metal) especially in the instrumentals is as close as we get, really. And compared to the crazy experiments and threshold-crossing of other black metal bands like Ihsahn, Panopticon, Oranssi Pazuzu, Mesarthim, Schammasch, and Leviathan to name just a few, this isn't nearly as mindblowing as it's hyped up to be. Still a good album with a plethora of elements done right, no question about it, but its legacy doesn't quite hold up today.

Totally new and original black metal. - 90%

RobboElRobbo, December 30th, 2011

I discovered Nachtmystium several months ago via the tag "psychedelic black metal" on I actually laughed at it and checked out the band without much expectation. All I can say is : mind-blown. Nachtmystium are one of the most (if not THE most) original and innovative bands I have come across in black metal.

Black Meddle Part I starts out with a cover of Pink Floyd's "One of These Days". I heard that riff start and I knew already that I would love this album forever. It's done so tastefully and sets the obscure mood of the album right off the bat. The album follows through with a super fun song, “Assassins”, and damn, the chorus on this thing is great! There are also some strange electronic parts subtly in the background and this is where the “psychedelic” comes in. Nachtmystium loves to use strange effects and they aren’t afraid to experiment at all, and you just can’t help but to admire them for it. The next song is by far the highlight of the album, “Ghosts of Grace”. It’s basically a really exciting punk song with screamed vocals. Easily one of the top 5 choruses I have heard in my life. Every time I listen to this album, Ghosts of Grace is playing in my head for hours afterwards. It’s fantastic. The tracks “Omnivore” and “Your True Enemy” touch back to their raw black metal roots with fast and aggressive guitar play and drum work. The vocals on Omnivore are strangely so good, too. Blake Judd pulls off these whispers at all the right moments in this song and it just flows beautifully. There’s really nothing special about his vocals, but he knows exactly what to do at exactly the right time.

The album sadly loses momentum with the last three tracks, Seasick I, II and III. They don’t really go anywhere and there are no climaxes. They're mostly instrumental, but there is some awesomely suitable saxophone. There are some really great effects throughout, but it’s just not enough to hold your attention. These are the most experimental tracks by a long shot here, but there is just no excitement. It’s like the album is split directly into two parts, which is really sad.

Nachtmystium is a band trying its best to do something new in the black metal scene, and damn, they do a fine job. This album is catchy as hell, has a ton of crazy and original moments, and is overall a ton of fun to listen to. Sadly, their album structuring needs a bit of work as the first half of the album doesn’t really tie into the second half. If you listen to them separately, both halves are mind blowing, but it just doesn’t feel like they should be together. I seriously wish there were more bands doing this stuff.

Favorite tracks: Ghosts of Grace, One of These Nights.
Least favorite tracks: Seasick, Part I.


Thievery=Originality - 50%

BassLord, July 14th, 2010

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 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.

Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part I - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 11th, 2009

The fate of USBM (United States Black Metal for the unacquainted/uninterested) has varied significantly during the history of Black Metal but it is generally accepted that the last few years have seen it make up some ground on the Scandinavians of yore, and especially the infamous Norwegian scene of the early 1990s. Three very different bands leading this charge have been Absu (new album out soon, at last), Leviathan and Nachtmystium, all who read the BM blueprint in different ways, surely a precedent to the development of a recognised 'scene'. Nachtmystium's development has lead to their fourth album, "Assassins - Black Meddle Part 1", where they have had the courage to move away from the Darkthrone worship of approximately 4 million other BM bands and create a platter combining psychedelia and Black Metal to such an extent that labelling the band 'Black Metal' circa 2008 does them a great injustice.

The purely aesthetic signs of a departure from BM are clear to see in Nachtmystium these days – the removal of corpsepaint, dropping of stagenames, a vaguely legible but totally spike-free logo - but even a cursory listen of "Assassins" shows how far they have come since their "Reign of the Malicious" debut. The lead solos in "Your True Enemy" and "Code Negative" drip in Pink Floyd-isms, the band of inspiration for Nachtmystium vocalist/lead guitarist Blake Judd, rock-like bass lines in "Ghosts of Grace" that should annoy any BM-elitists listening, and the none-more-Metal saxophone and moog synthesiser crafting a serene jazzy feel throughout the "Seasick..." triumvirate concluding the LP. That's not to say of course Nachytmystium would be the ideal opening act for a future Pink Floyd reunion show: the Burzum influenced opening to "Code Negative", the Satyricon-esque blasting sessions found in "Omnivore" and the overall brilliance of the meandering "Assassins" reveal a band still as happy as a pig in a mud to blast for Satan, and with the drumstool occupied by the legendary drum-whore Tony Laureano, who can blame them? Album highlight "Assassins", the first proper song after a short introduction, can be seen as a clear statement of intent, with a chorus that reads "We feel nothing/ And are nothing/ Travelling elitists/ Rejecting weakness/ We stand alone/ Pride does not die/ Kings in your dreams/ Slaves to this nightmare" expressing Judd's feelings about the band's direction and a possible backlash from diehard fans who dislike the new output. The song itself starts off as a rollicking Black Metal tune reminiscent of where Satyricon have taken themselves on their last couple of releases, before slowing down to incorporate a more dissonant guitar and classic rock sound with strong ambient and psychedelic influences flooding the distance, and then the foreground, in the song's conclusion. It really is a most brilliant song, and no surprise it has been chosen to head the album proper.

Despite how it may sound from the above, the greatest experimentation occurs in "Seasick" which is actually split into three at the end, and as well as including the elements mentioned above, features guitar soloing that sounds a lot like Opeth on "Damnation". Depending on personal opinion "Seasick" could represent the weakest portion of the album as the only resemblance to BM comes in the form of Judd's hoarse vocals and possibly ends the album on a slight downer, though over a number of listens I have grown to like it. One can only speculate if "Seasick" signals the future direction of the band...

Any band that has the testicular fortitude Nachtmystium have displayed in daring to be different and try out new ideas deserves credit, however good the end result. With "Assassins", Nachtmystium have improved on a sound that was clearly a work-in-progress on 2006's "Instinct: Decay" and will have a gone a long way to climbing the ladder of success that has been the undoing of many before them upon musical experimentation. Hopefully their next album will further this development to create something even more radical.

Originally written for

Carving a niche for themselves. - 60%

shouvince, April 9th, 2009

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.

Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part I - 50%

altered_state, March 21st, 2009

The new incantation of Nachtmystium, while a welcome change to the tired generic black metal they played previously, is similar to 80s action films in that it may be entertaining once in a while, but is ultimately empty and tame; devoid of feeling and emotion in an effort to sell itself to the wider undemanding audience.

Experimental and psychedelic are both labels Nachtmystium have been tagged with, leading me to wonder if people actually know what these descriptions mean. Almost all the tracks have oscillating electronic wind and/or bleeping noises, something Hawkwind first experimented with nearly forty years ago most famously on Silver Machine. Hawkwind’s efforts were much more successful though, as being pioneers they had to create their sound manually unlike Nachtmystium who sound like they’ve used a demo of Fruity Loops. Someone also needs to explain to Blake Judd that attaching wind noises, echoes, reverb, delay, flangers, wah-wahs and electronic bleeping to otherwise conventional music does not psychedelia make.

There is little variety in the songwriting and delivery, all tracks featuring mid-paced weak multi-layered guitars that are inevitably used as the backing for a lead riff played with a sugary-sweet guitar tone drenched with increasingly more effects. Often this leads to overlong, tiresome songs that impotently amble onwards until it slowly fades out only to be greeted with anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes of more pointlessly hacked in wind and bleeping noises. The vocals and drums are nothing special, simply what you’d expect from a generic black metal band, which is painful to say knowing what Tony Laureano is capable of.

Nevertheless, there are a few moments on this album where Nachtmystium play with some balls such as sections of One Of These Nights, Your True Enemy and Omnivore, while the solos are mostly impressive, yet the majority of Assassins is just bland and superficial. As I stated in my intro, like 80s action films it can make for good mindless entertainment every so often, but repeated listens highlight its failings and lack of substance, something which makes me think the retarded sound effects are solely there for distraction; Nachtmystium have become the George Lucas of black metal.

Back and Beyond - 100%

ThePhantomnaut, March 6th, 2009

Decibel magazine introduced me to a lot of things including the band Nachtmystium. Heck the name of the group sparked some interest. They put their album Instinct: Decay as one of the top 5 albums of their top 40 list in 2006. I wanted to take a listen as I wanted to start listening to black metal. Filled with low-fi buzzing psychedelia and somewhat inaudible but terrifying vocals, it was just fucking awesome to listen to. When I heard their new album Assassins, I felt a bit worried about the album being Instinct: Decay part 2. Hell, I was damn wrong. After a full listen, I didn't really care if they were really black metal or whatever. I just knew Assassins was just heavy and great.

"One of these nights, I am going to fucking die," the only lyric from the blasting "One of These Nights gives some preparation for the bombardment of fast black metal beats of "Assassins" and "Your True Enemy" telling us that they still have the dark edges. Even so, they seem to say goodbye to these traits with more slower and psychedelic tones of the instrumentals and the very heavy metal "Ghosts of Grace" thanks to Sanford Parker contributing with sound like cheesy yet nostalgic UFOs entering the planet earth. If I find a best metal vocals in a metal song award, it would be Blake sounding like an agonized drug addict in "Omnivore." The "Seasick" trilogy feels like a true farewell to the extreme roots and hello to a new world of experimentation; big thanks to Tony Laureano's off time and hi-fi drum work and Bruce Lamont's really relaxing saxophone helping make Nachtmystium's 4th album their most experimental and their best.

A joke - 0%

HeilSathanas, September 16th, 2008

Nachtmystium since Instinct: Decay have shown to be one of the most promising bands in the US black metal scene. They overshadowed all other lame acts such as Xasthur and Leviathan with raw songwriting capabilities only helped out by some good but not over the top experimentation. Nachtmystium looked as though they could only go up from here, that was until Black Meddle was released. Just looking at the album cover had me a little worried, how tacky can you get? And naming their album Black Meddle? Lame puns are great for black metal album names but that's just taking it a bit too far.

Anyways the mediocrity is noticeable right from the start. "One of These Nights" opens up with wind noises, yes wind noises, only one of the most cliche things in black metal history, but I didn't loose faith, after all it's just an intro.... right? WRONG, the rest of the album proves to follow the exact same problem as the intro, only worse. Assassins proves to just be a hilariously bad song, with the production sounding clean and lame as possible it becomes even easier to spot all the problems present here.

First and foremost Blake's vocals sound like absolute shit! On Instinct: Decay he had a great unique tone that wasn't extremely high in the mix and blended perfectly with the music, here his voice is totally shot. He sounds like he's just barely managing to get a harsh scream out, and his tone is just incredibly annoying, failure Blake, failure. It doesn't help that Assassins and other songs feature viking metal esq fun joyful choruses, these certainly do not push the album forward in any way imaginable, they just make you wanna chuckle. Oh and apparently Tony Laureano is suppose to be some kind of godly drummer, even though he's never played for a good band, ever, and his playing on this album ranges from uninspired to just plain horrible.

The rest of the album pretty much follows the exact same problematic sequence, mediocre, forgettable and just awful guitar playing and execution can be found all throughout this album. Nothing here is what any sane person would consider truly progressive or experimental, unless you count the HILARIOUS saxophone solo, omg that's TRUE black metal PROGRESS right there folks!!! With that said there really is no reason to explain any more, this album is trite garbage, anyone with good taste can see that, Nachtmystium went from excellent to just plain shit, end of story.

a successful exploration - 94%

dunyayeriaze, August 22nd, 2008

Before you hear this album, gather your dad's Pink Floyd albums and the weed he hides behind them. Now listen to the difference in sound and approach to music from Pink Floyd's albums predating Meddle and then hear how Meddle (1972) was a direction apart. This is the holy grail of musicians. An adventure into an unknown realm which may have moderate success but a great deal of influence over the development of music. To be a precedent is more honorable than being a pinnacle.

So Nachtmystium's album Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1 begins with an obvious allusion... no let me say homage to Pink Floyd's album Meddle. Transitions between songs are smooth and follow a natural emotional course. The first song has an anthem-like quality to the refrain which-- as a precedent-- sets a great contrast to the characteristic black metal verses. It works. The guitar solos, none like previous Nachtmystium albums, take the aural aspect of David Gilmour of Floyd.

The Xasthur like vocals are the only thing which cohesively holds the black metal feeling of the whole. The music is too groovy, too simple, too raw to be fully black metal. It's reminiscent of hardcore punk, seventies rock, symphonic metal, without fully realizing these styles as many fusion artists erroneously do.

The lyrics are rich in meaning and execution. They are not contrived in feeling as many black metal lyricists who consider themselves to be Elizabethan poets. The use of guitar effects is appropriate (flanger and chorus, ala Floyd 70s). The quality of recording is appropriate. The tracks function as a whole rather than singles haphazardly pasted into an album.

The album finally closes with another reference to Meddle (72). The song "Echoes" from Meddle (72), a 20 minute masterpiece which has three distinct parts ,is considered a Floyd triumph. The song has many references to the sea, especially David Gilmour emulating submarine echo-locater radar and gulls on his guitar. Nachtmystium sees this as an opportunity to try something different and they divide Sea Sick into three distinct tracks which have unique sounds and sound like a completely different band. All in all it feels like a prequel to another album, justifying the name including "Part 1". It allows catharsis of the brutality of the past few heavy tracks, especially Omnivore.

This album is definitely inspired and not meant to be a defining work but is obviously a success for the band. They show their homage to the roots of classic rock while exploring-- within their genre-- different structures.

Listen to the album and expect to hear something that you really like and something that you don't. They are not trying to be a pinnacle of the genre in black metal. Instead, they want you to hear something interesting, which is the minimal and humble request any worthwhile band makes of an audience.

Trippy or Tripped Up? - 80%

nightzblood, July 3rd, 2008

Like them or not, Nachtmystium deserve credit for refusing to play (corpse)paint-by-numbers black metal and instead forge their own identity. "Assassins" is the latest stage in their musical evolution, and while not perfect it still delivers and promises better things are yet to come.

What works: Currently, Nachtmystium are at their best when incorporating pseudo-psychedelic elements into songs that possess a heavy, blackened framework. The best examples hereon are 'Assassins', 'Ghosts of Grace', and 'Your True Enemy'. 'Omnivore' also works fairly well, mixing blackened heaviness, moody atmospheres, and some trippy accents all into one song.

What doesn't work: Unfortunately, Nachtmystium have not perfected their new style. Some songs ('Code Negative' and the closing 'Seasick' trilogy in particular) sacrifice too much heaviness in favor of atmosphere, the end result being rather dull songs that don't really work in my opinion (at the risk of sounding close-minded, I have never thought that saxophones worked in Metal music at all). These numbers aren't awful, but they don't really hold my attention.

In the end, it's an interesting album and the strong songs more than balance out the weaker ones. I'm curious to see whether Nachtmystium can build upon the best parts of this album and create something stronger in the future.

Forcing Black Metal Forward - 80%

Shirt_Guy, June 26th, 2008

You could see American black metal churning in the underground, just waiting for someone to push forward with a signature sound, and rise above their brethren. There have already been some bands gaining attention in the America black metal underground, playing mostly 2nd wave Norwegian style black metal, but one could easily see that if there wasn’t a band willing to push forward, the genre would never break out. Fear not, as Nachtmystium has blended their raw black metal ideas with old-school 70’s rock, psychedelia and stoner metal to the point where you can’t see where one starts and the other ends.

This is an epic effort with little bits and pieces of noise that introduce, and also trail off to end these slightly longer than usual songs. It’s funny how none of the songs are actually that long (sometimes past 5 minutes, not counting the ambiance), yet the atmosphere, busy action and catching hooks from both the guitars and rhythm of the tearing vocals keeps them larger then life, even when the tempo is moving at some quite relaxed speeds.

Nachtmystium is doing what American black metal and black metal in general needs - to push it forward and force those who are “trve kvlt” to argue about what black metal is - or isn’t. This album won’t give you any definitive answers, but of course when a metal band does something like experimenting with saxophones at the end of a song, that’s the whole point…

Originally posted at

Nachtmystium - Assassins - 95%

Final_Judgement, June 11th, 2008

I was going to try to come up with a witty review title, but any pun I can come up with is going to be overshadowed by the horrible yet suitable pun in the album's title. Indeed, this album is very much a combination of black metal and Pink Floyd's "Meddle" album.

Now, I'm not a black metal fan, nor am I a Pink Floyd fan, but the combination of the styles here comes out sounding phenomenal, to say the least. Although the psychadelic elements will probably turn off many listeners, I found they added some much needed depth to what I generally consider a very shallow and stale genre.

So, let's start on the backing instrumentation then. If you are looking for killer riffs and face-melting solos, take your search elsewhere (although the opening riff to "Ghosts of Grace" and the solo in "Your True Enemy" will probably satisfy, they are rare occurrences on the album). The guitar is generally mixed towards the back of the tracks, with an emphasis on rhythm playing and atmosphere (think black metal guitarwork). The bass is a bit higher in the mix, and gives the album a very progressive sounding bass edge through. However, most of the backing instrumentation has a focus on psychadelic samples and other atmospheric components (keyboard, piano, etc.). The aforementioned opening melody and the inclusion of odd instruments like saxophones (most prominent on "Seasick Part II: Oceanborne") help keep the overall music entertaining. You'll have to listen to the album multiple times to truly take everything in, as there is a lot going on in the background.

Moving on to the drumming on the album, one will notice that all the drumming on the album was handled by Tony Laureano, which means you're either going to love it or hate it. I have seen the drumming described as being "pop-sensible", and I don't particularly disagree with the label. Some typical black metal elements are stil present, like some blastbeating in the track "Assassins", but most of the focus seems to be on interesting fills and progressive beats. The drums are mixed quite high, which seems to deter some Laureano-haters, but I find that they are not only highly entertaining, but also quite impressive (which is quite a rare feat in modern metal).

The last element of the music here is the vocals, an instrument that only appears on about half of the tracks. When they do pop up, they are heavily effected, very loud, and extremely catchy. The rhythms and melodies used here definitely have a lot of mainstream appeal, probably due to the obvious homage being paid to Pink Floyd. Not to say that they aren't still typical Nachtmystium tones though; I find that the vocals here have improved a lot since the band's last full length album. Some great vocal experiments such as whispering the entirety of "Code Negative" really pay off and contribute a lot to the overall atmosphere.

Overall, what we have here is a very unique and catchy piece of black metal. Despite the lack of vocals on a lot of tracks, the album never failed to hold my undivided attention the first time through. It is quite rare that I can dedicate 100% of my focus to an album and feel rewarded, but this album definitely earned that distinction. 10 plays later and I'm still almost completely engrossed in it. The bottom line: you need to hear this album!

Standout tracks/moments: "Ghosts of Grace", "Seasick Part II: Oceanborne", and the lengthy solo section in "Code Negative" that takes the song into a perfect ending sample.

Half-Assed Trippy Bullshit - 42%

WinterBliss, June 11th, 2008

If you read my Worldfall review you might have some insight as to how I feel about post Instinct:Decay Nachtmystium; for those who haven't I'll sum up my feelings briefly. I Enjoyed Nachtmystium's work from Demise to Instinct:Decay a great deal. I enjoyed the fuzzed out, raw atmosphere, dive bombing guitars, wailing riffs and the overall venomous attitude. Unfortunately for me, most of that has become lost with post Instinct:Decay Nachtmystium.

It took a lot of patience for me to listen to this album the full way through; there wasn't much I enjoyed about it. Naturally being a large fan of black metal, and a quite small fan of doom/stoner metal I enjoyed the "blacker" parts of this album, i.e "Assassins," "Your True Enemy," and the scattered BM tidings of "Ghosts Of Grace" and "Omnivore." By no means am I a BM purist, I thought the psychedelic flourishes that had been introduced in previous recordings were great, I enjoy a slew of all different genres, and hate bands that preach about being true; but I feel this isn't all that interesting.

Nachtmystium had a good thing going, but Judd has decided, for whatever reason, to morph the band into a hodgepodge of psychedelics, commercial metal, black metal and self-satisfying crap. Utterly pointless parts of the album are, but not limited to: whisper vocals, random buzzing robot noises, gang vocals, meandering and boring tracks (Away From The Light), and well... I would like to cite the last three tracks as pointless, but that's because I don’t care for Stoner/Doom Metal much( I do however love Eyehategod, but they’re raw and gritty).

As you could have guessed, the final three tracks which seem to follow a concept of sorts are all pretty shitty. For the most part they're slow psychedelic jam outs with little to no redeeming factors. The album is certainly mixed with some pretty decent sections of blast beats and tremolo picking graced with some nice melodic riffs, and other stuff I find interesting, but it's lost amidst a bunch of junk.

Another and quite large factor towards this album's failure is the production. We're given a pretty slick production that fits perfectly well with some doom or more polished bands, but here it doesn't fly. Clean sounding drums, lots of polished guitars, ridiculous effects on both the voice and random bits of sound that I'm sure are just there to piss you off. On top of all of that, this album is devoid of any real atmosphere. I know you're probably saying "Oh, but Seasick made me feel like I was riding a boat... on the sea!" or "Code Negative really made me recognize my innermost feelings, and it felt like I was tripping pretty hard!" no that's not going to do it for me in terms of atmosphere. Everything is a bit too purposeful, even though I enjoyed previous Nachtmystium albums; they've always come off, to me, as trying too hard. This album reeks of Judd wanting to obtain, or reach a level of admiration, so for me, the atmosphere and a lot of the emotion seems fake to me.

All in all, as I said there are a few redeeming factors; but not enough. Even some of the trippy hipster bullshit ain't all that bad (the solo at the end of Code Negative is pretty goddamn good), but it's not enough. The worst part is there is not one song I like in its entirety, there's faults with it all. Now I may have high standards, but regardless there is not one flawless song, there is not one gem. There are sections which I might regard as awesome, but no songs. Such sections would be the sections between the choruses of "Assassins" and everything in “Your True Enemy” except the pointless solo.

Regardless of their reasons, ideas, focus or whatever, Nachtmystium seems to keep the idea flowing that bigger labels=crappier music. It's a shame, because I was really digging the whole psychedelic black metal shtick. But if you like hipster bullshit like The Sword, most of Southern Lord's doom crap, the 60's, or tie-dye, then this album might be of some interest to you.

Oh, and a saxophone, really guys? Really?