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Album Review: Nachtmystium ‘The World We Left Behind’
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Nachtmystium The World We Left Behind Album Cover

The World We Left Behind
Nachtmystium
CD|MP3|Vinyl
Century Media
Release date: August 5, 2014

I find it very suspect anytime that a band says “This is our last (album, tour, whatever).” Especially when said band is essentially a one-man project. It’s much easier for one person to change their mind after a little while (looking at you, Corgan).

That’s exactly the case with Nachtmystium, who are preparing to release what was being billed as their “final” record The World We Left Behind. Sure, there has been a revolving door of personnel throughout the band’s thirteen-year history, but Nachtmystium is, for all intents and purposes, Blake Judd.

Nine months ago, Judd announced that he would be would be disbanding Nachtmystium after completion of the band’s seventh studio album The World We Left Behind. This news came on the heels of the musician’s reported drug problems and subsequent arrest. But, just as I predicted all along, it seems that Judd has now had a change of heart and will not be disbanding Nachtmystium after all [read more about that here: Nachtmystium Not Breaking Up; Release First Single From ‘The World We Left Behind’].

As for The World We Left Behind, it turns out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Nachtmystium started their career as a fairly straight-ahead black metal band before beginning to experiment with elements of psychedelic rock. In more recent years, the band had come full circle, returning to their black metal roots. This album is like a sampler platter of all of the above.

Most of the album could best be described as “blackened hard rock.” While still plenty heavy, the instrumentation here veers more toward classic heavy rock riffs than the furious tremolo picking and blast beats that are more indicative of black metal. There are moments where that formula of the genre come poking through, such as on “Into the Endless Abyss.” The songs that adhere most strictly to true black metal happen to be the weakest and least inspired on the album, but even at that Nachtmystium still outshine ninety percent of the bands working in the genre today. Judd’s voice maintains the demonic tone of black metal throughout.

Interestingly, there are also some very tastefully used electronic elements in spots. Musically, the album is very tight and memorable. It is the lyrical content that flirts with monotony at moments. There is no mistaking that this is the bleak tale of a junkie struggling in the throes of addiction, the exception being the track “The Other Side,” which sounds like the words of a man who has emerged with a clearer head. Quite a few of the songs also seem to last a bit longer than necessary. Take the lead single, “Tear You Down”: Clocking in at five minutes and nineteen seconds, it is one of the shorter offerings on the album, but still manages to seem bogged down in the chorus refrain. Incidentally, it is also one of the weakest songs on the album and a very odd choice for a single. (Listen to “Tear You Down” here below.)

There is plenty to love here as well though when Judd is firing on all cylinders in songs such as “Intrusion,” “Fireheart,” “Voyager,” and “Epitaph for a Dying Star.” In these moments one is reminded that this is a man who has been responsible for some of the greatest black metal that America has ever produced.

If this had in fact been Nachtmystium’s swan song, it’s would not have been a bad epitaph by any means. However, there is evidence here to lend some hope that a clean and sober Blake Judd might just be capable of producing his greatest works yet. I’m pulling for you, Blake, and am glad that Nachtmystium will not be leaving the world behind after all.

The World We Left Behind will be available in Europe on August 4th and in the U.S. on August 5th via Century Media Records.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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