June 22, 2010
Album Review: "Addicts: Black Meddle, Part II" by Nachtmystium
There are very few bands that can throw whatever they want into a song in whatever way they want to include it, and still end up with an excellent-sounding finished result. More often than not, bands with that format don't make it out of their basements. Not so with Nachtmystium, a band that has capitalized on their skill in crafting diverse, intricate songs with completely unexpected parts and inclusions. The seemingly random nature of their music is what makes them so appealing to listeners tired of the processed, sterilized nature of the modern metal world. Their 2008 breakthrough album, Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1, established a new standard for experimental and psychedelic metal. The follow-up, Addicts: Black Meddle, Part II, takes a new direction in some areas, but maintains the core sound of the band and is overall a worthy follow-up album.
The biggest change on Addicts is the increased presence of '70s-style rock-and-roll elements, mostly in the rhythm section. The drums are very stylistically similar to some of the greatest classic rock albums of that decade, and Jeff Whitehead's play screams of influence from Keith Moon and John Densmore. There are also plenty of industrial parts thrust into the sound of this record, attesting to Blake Judd's self-proclaimed love for bands such as Ministry and Killing Joke. Combining these parts with the band's raw black metal roots, the result is often mystifying, requiring two or three listens in order to fully appreciate. Nothing is a better example of this than "The End is Eternal", the seven-minute masterpiece that is the heart of the album. This song has layers upon layers of complexity that would leave most composers baffled, and the way that the complexity is maintained only makes the song better.
The introduction of these new elements comes at a price, though, and it could prove to be the deciding factor for many fans of whether Addicts is as good as Assassins. Although Addicts does increase the depth and range of Nachtmystium's style, it also lacks some of the bold experimentation that made Assassins such a hit with listeners. The biggest psychedelic elements of the older album, such as moog synth effects and random saxophone parts, have been replaced with more straightforward rock-and-roll styles layered over weird ambient background noise. There will be some fans that are turned off by this, but the change could net the band even more fans by making their sound a bit more accessible and understandable for the average listener. It's a pretty significant gamble for a band that's poised to break the threshold and become a major player in the worldwide metal scene.
Addicts offers fans a greater look at the huge musical palette that influences Nachtmystium, and takes yet another new approach to their music. It's not black metal in the traditional sense, but it's also not an off-shoot style such as black-n-roll either. Nachtmystium occupies a space that's entirely their own, which is impressive for a band just one album removed from their breakout. No matter what comes after Addicts, count on Nachtmystium to always have something unique and unexpected to offer.
Score: 7 out of 10
1. Cry for Help
2. High on Hate
4. No Funeral
5. Then Fires
7. The End is Eternal
8. Blood Trance Fusion
9. Ruined Life Continuum
10. Every Last Drop
Blake Judd - Lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Jeff Wilson - Lead and rhythm guitar
Will Lindsay - Bass guitar, lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Sanford Parker - Synthesizers
Jeff "Wrest" Whitehead - Drums