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The rough beginnings of a now polished sound - 90%

arioch_enshrined, September 14th, 2007

My first exposure to Nachtmystium was their recent release, Instinct: Decay; and while different, I was pleased to find the same quality of music in their back catalogue. Like their newer releases, there is a dose of melody in the Midwestern band’s early work, but it is in the form of tremolo riffing pattern progressions as opposed to the effect-laden lead sections on Instinct. The production of this release is raw and full of grit but remarkably clear for the instruments, and it exudes forth a calming sort of atmosphere. The overall product has a similar mellowing affect on me as I experience while listening to Enslaved’s Below the Light or Agalloch’s Pale Folklore, although the delivery is totally different. This self-titled EP uses many simple riffs infused with the afore mentioned melodies to lull the listener into a slight trance, helped along with the heavily distorted rasps of their vocalist (for this album, Zmij) and a not-so-flashy, yet rhythmically solid battery of percussion.

The opening track, The Glorious Moment, starts off with feedback and then the main riff of the song kicks in, played on a single guitar. The other instruments gradually join and create an upper mid tempo mini-epic that speeds up for a high energy finish that ends abruptly. The song structure is fairly simple, but vocal placement, melodies and the percussive backdrop keep the song soothing as opposed to annoying.

The sudden ending of track one segue ways into a quick start of the second song, Cold Tormentor (I’ve Become.) The pace of this song is fast throughout, except for a brief slow down around the minute-and-a-half mark that ends in an overcoming blast of distorted sound - leading into the quick pace that preceded it. Again, the structure is fairly rudimentary but is carried forth on strength of rhythm and melody of the key riffs.

Come Forth, Devastation is easily as fast as the track before it, but touches upon the epic feel of the first track. The rhythm of this song is very simplistic, but the magnificent progression of melody puts the listener into a delightful, sorrow-filled stupor. This is also the first song (and only) to feature a solo section, and the solo presented almost brings the track to a close. A brief riff follows and the song abruptly ends just to allow the next track to resume and a similar, unforgiving speed.

Embrace Red Horizon has a lot of the same rhythmic feel as the previous track, but the progression of melody is completely different. This song fades out in the simplistic rhythmic fashion that it started after only two-and-a-half minutes.

The last original work of the EP, The Call Of The Ancient, is considerably slower than any song on the album. What it sacrifices in speed, it makes up in rhythmic variation and vocal ferocity – the slow pace allows the scathing performance of Zmij to really shine through. Towards the finish of the song, the tempo greatly speeds up (similar to the previous tracks) and pummels the listener to the end. As with the earlier tracks, melody is top-notch through both slow and fast.

A rendition of Judas Iscariot’s “Gaze Upon Heaven In Flames” ends the EP. While the song doesn’t impress me itself, I don’t feel like it takes away from the strength of this release. The riffing style is rather bland, but the sheer weight created at times by the length a note is sustained (while tremoloing) adds a nice finish to a wonderful release.

This album sees a lot of repetition in each song, but the tracks build a sense of familiarity in the ear of the listener. Nachtmystium are not incredibly innovative with this release, but they do a superb job making their songs feel fresh and crisp as opposed to overdone and boring.