Black Meddle Part II: Addicts
07 June 2010
by Mike Strata
From Disaronno’s whisky adverts to Andy Gray’s frantic babbling on a Sunday afternoon, the slogan “expect the unexpected” has become so old and tired it makes Zsa Zsa Gabor look positively perky. However, when it comes to describing the audio output of Illinois’ premier psychedelic metal alchemists Nachtmystium over the last few years, there really is no better phrase.
Having cast off the shackles of black metal (and his much more evil sounding alias, Azentrius) a good few releases ago, Blake Judd has knuckled down and consistently created some of the most challenging extreme music of the last decade. Sure, Nachtmystium’s work has always been grounded in the no-fi harshness of black metal, the shuddering rhythms and screeching vocals have played an important role in sustaining the band’s identity, but experimentation has been at the forefront of their sound, and never more obviously than on 2008’s Black Meddle Part I: Assassins. Until now.
Addicts starts off in ominous fashion, the sparse intro’s drums and cymbal chimes fading off into the abyss, whilst Judd’s husky, evil whisper spells out the words NOTHING HURTS MORE THAN BEING BORN before the band thrusts full throttle into ‘High On Hate’. So far, so BM. Although the truth is that the clattering drums and tremelo picking of this track are as close to traditional black metal as this album gets . From here on in (in actual fact, from about 2 minutes into ‘High On Hate’) Nachtmystium twist and morph through innumerable styles, like some kind of skeletal model at Paris Fashion Week. ‘No Funeral’, ‘Ruined Life Continuum’ and ‘Then Fires’ have an almost disco-like ambiance to them, all synths and syncopated beats, almost as if The Killers decided to live up to their name, turned up their amps and set guitars to “kill” (although the vocal styles of Judd and Brandon Flowers are ever so slightly different).
The album’s overriding theme, addiction, is strongly woven into the very fabric of the record, with lyrics constantly touching on the despair of an addict, and song titles like ‘Blood Trance Fusion’ and ‘Every Last Drop’. The band creates droning, mournful soundscapes, whilst Judd’s vocals creak and groan like the death rattle of an unfortunate whose only solace is a needle, most majestically on the 7 minute epic, ‘The End Is Eternal’. Despite the occasional presence of what sometimes resembles vocal melody, and the aforementioned poppier slant of certain tracks, this is by no means an easy listen.
Watch the trailer to Black Meddle Part II: Addicts by Nachtmystium:
It takes time to get to grips with what Nachtmystium are trying here, and if you come expecting this record to sound like either a) Darkthrone or b) Pink Floyd, prepare to leave disappointed. It’s a record that both demands and rewards concentration and repeated listens. Nachtmystium have once again confounded expectation and created something that whilst not being quite as immediate and mindblowing as Assassins, is most definitely a welcome addition to an already superb back catalogue.
Sounds Like: The house band at the working men’s club. In Hades.
Top Tracks: The End Is Eternal, Blood Trance Fusion
Nachtmystium – Black Meddle Part II: Addicts tracklisting:
Cry for Help
High on Hate
The End Is Eternal
Blood Trance Fusion
Ruined Life Continuum
Every Last Drop