'Before I start talking about Nachtmystium, I would like to make a few things clear, so as not to have to come back to them - at least, any time soon. I like heavy music, but I don’t like only heavy music: I enjoy pretty happilly other forms and genres, but under one condition. The music has to make me interested. That’s why I like certain things from experimental dance music. That’s why I wallow like a pig in shit in Sunn0)))‘s murky mindfuck. That’s why I was floored when I first listened to Cobalt’s “Eater Of Birds”. And that’s exactly why I like the current road that Nachtmystium’s chosen to walk on.
Back when, Blake Judd was Azentrius, the band was signed on a label with NSBM ties and Nachtmystium was trying its damnedest to out-Darkthrone Darkthrone. Now, I don’t know ‘bout you, but I could easily KILL if forced to listen to another underproduced, sloppy-played Darkthrone, Mayhem or Emperor clone. Motherfuck kvlt, motherfuck troo, motherfuck nekro, motherfuck all this shit: this is now, ladies and germs, and when talking in terms of a past that’s less history and more myth, you’re just thinking in the wrong terms. Especially when talking about black metal, which, by nature, is the most open-ended metal genre (look at the roots, if you don’t believe me…).
I have a feeling that that’s what happened with Nachtmystium. They were living the myth, but one day, they probably got that they had more ideas, more talent and more attitude than their output displayed. So they probably said “fuggit” and started forging their own brand of black metal. So, now, Azentrius is Blake Judd again and the band plays new, interesting, exciting, powerful music: black metal? Fer shure, but not only black metal. By embracing outside influences, the band’s created a sound all of it’s own. A sound that retains the bile and venom of black metal, while, at the same time, moving towards uncharted territory. OK, so now they seem more self-conscious, maybe more “pretentious” (HA! To call someone pretentious in a genre where the rule-of-thumb accepts corpsepaint and songtitles longer than my arm…), more “accessible” and “hip”. SO FUCKING WHAT???!!! The music kills, so who’s giving a shit?
See, that’s the whole thing with “Assassins”: the songs retain the elemental power and heavitude of black metal, but they’re all injected with outside influences and ideas, recombining the black metal DNA into something more ruthless, more strange, more black and, at the same fucking time, something more beautiful, more open, less hermetic and straightjacketed. Actually, now Nachtmystium sound as if they’re playing the music they like and not the music they’re expected to play. And if they like to get all jazzy (as in “Seasick Part 2: Oceanborne”), they do it and fuck the consequences. Or, they go all anthemic and – almost, but not exactly – power-metal in parts of some song without batting an eye, before returning to the acidic blasting and screeched vocals.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of shit about the Pink Floyd influences the band displays in this album: believe me, those who say this probably don’t know shit from shinola. The only reference Nachtmystium does to the Floyd is during the “One Of These Nights” intro piece, where they combine “One of These Days” with Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave”. Actually, the only Floydian influence I can see is in the way both bands seem to be able to write mood music and how both bands don’t seem to be afraid to experiment with sound, texture, effects, ideas. How both bands, at their peak (and I think that Nachtmystium are reaching theirs), seem ready to embrace experiment, while retaining the things that made them unique. Here, we have the neither-here-not-there psych interlude in “Code Negative”, the three-part black-metal-cum-prog-rock suite of “Seasick”, the strange noises running through most of the songs’ fabric… And all the while, the band keeps the sickly fire of hateful black metal burning, ready at a moment’s notice to burn everything in its path
No, “Assassins” is not a masterpiece. But, while looking at 99,9% of black metal output these days, I’m ready to accept it for what it is: a bold statement from a band that uses black metal as a starting point to move into terra incognita and make great music. So, I’m sold…'
8,5 non-kvlt, non-troo black metal bastards out of 10.
Written byKhlysty www.globaldomination.se
Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.I (2008) [HQ]