Label: Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions
Genre: Black Meddle
Release Date: November 30th, 2018
Disclaimer: Metal Utopia and Kelly d0 not endorse the actions of members of Nachtmystium, however much we may appreciate the music.
Any new release by Nachtmystium is going to be greeted with some controversy. Main man Blake Judd burned a lot of bridges and caused a lot of consternation in the Metal scene during the band’s first run and it’s easy to see why some might not be welcoming him back with open arms. He contends that most of his problems were because of his drug addiction, and he’s taken steps to redeem himself and get clean. How you feel about that is up to you, but as for me, I’ve always loved the music of Nachtmystium and was sad to see him retire the band back in 2014 with the release of The World We Left Behind (an excellent album, by the way). He’s apparently decided the time was right to bring the band back, whether the world was ready or not.
This EP is four songs but to be honest, it’s really only three. Opening track “Conversion” is more of an atmospheric piece/sample to get us “into the mood” for another dark, depressive trip inside Blake’s head and heart. It really does serve this function, as we listen to a doctor speaking to his patient about a radical treatment that then slides into cries of fear and desperation and then into screams of pain. “Resilient” comes next and pretty much we’re thrown right back into the world Nachtmystium left behind on their last record. This one is mid-paced Black Metal reminiscent of the better songs on their 2014 release. Judd reveals here, and further on, his struggles with substance abuse and all the troubles they’ve brought him. If nothing else, haters would have to agree that he often has the courage to bare his soul, all his weaknesses and failings. “Resilient survivor, too selfish to die” is a great line, as are most of the lyrics here. Blake shows again, with the music and the words, that he’s a vital, brilliant force on the USBM scene and, indeed, in the Metal scene as a whole. The song takes a turn about four minutes in, getting a bit more melodic, opening up some, trotting out those progressive tendencies the band has always been good at incorporating. Just an excellent song all around.
“Silver Lanterns” bears down a bit more, residing in Celtic Frost territory with its thudding beat and trashy guitars. That’s of course before the melodic Black Metal chime comes in. This is prime Nachtmystium, laced with melody and black beauty to help offset the brutal darkness of the composition. Here is seven minutes of Nachtmystium greatness. If you’re a fan of the band at all, this is the one that will really bring a smile to your face.
The final track, “Desert Illumination,” feels like just that. It brings everything together that came before it, summarizing and moving forward. There’s a tiny touch of Tex-Mex at the beginning (it’s tiny, and maybe just in my head), but you can feel the open vista of a desert at night, with only the moon glowing to provide any light. This is a song about triumph, Blake intoning he is “completely free” and a “new me.” It’s pure atmosphere, the keys really laying out a bedrock of freedom, mixing with the guitars and the bongos, giving it an almost hippy vibe. There’s lots of emotions in these notes, lots of expressive, almost water-colory sensations. Just about five minutes in, the song picks up, the Black Metal kicking in. But as usual, it has such melodic swagger that it doesn’t feel all that heavy, more like a comforting blanket of sound. Easy-listening Black Metal? I’m sure live it will have more punch, but in any case, it adds another layer of dynamics to an already great song. This is nine and a half minutes of pure, blissed-out Black Metal, the kind only Nachtmystium can make.
Nachtmystium make a comeback with a short collection of terrific songs, letting the world know that there’s still some life left in those wizened, needle-scarred limbs. If you were a fan of them from before, rest assured nothing has changed and you will love this. If you were a hater, this isn’t going to win you over. If you’re new to the band, give this a listen. It’s outstanding.
3. Silver Lanterns
4. Desert Illumination
Total Playing Time: 25:04