Nachtmystium has returned
for one final album, and Blake Judd and pals are feeling evil, weird, and a little groovy as per usual.
Invisible Oranges recently had an op-ed piece regarding "Critic-Proof Bands," and while the label feels a little inaccurate, the idea is true. There are some bands that stick to a formula based in the familiar. They are able to simply use what works for them repeatedly. The obvious bands that come to mind are Motorhead, AC/DC, and any throwback band that's striving to sound like a band from thirty to forty years ago. I've felt like Nachtystium was heading this direction even since Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. I and now with their newest album, they have cemented themselves among these other bands.
Black Meddle Pt. 1 made me fall in love with this band and even Addicts: Black Meddle Pt 2 holds a place in my heart, but Silencing Machine and this album, The World We Left Behind, have both left me feeling like I've heard this album before, but I'm not upset about it.
The opening track, "Intrusion," is a brief and rather obvious intro track to the album. It is echoey, dark, and has some galloping thrown in for good measure. It feels a tad black metal by numbers, which isn't necessarily bad.
Having said that, an appeal of the second song, "Fireheart," is how jarring it is coming from the intro track. It's has pretty cool 4/4 dance beat with some odd synth work behind it. The meat of the song is interesting, but overall the song is quick to return to the repetitive chorus. No one else would sound like this, so I've got to give them that credit, but again, it's like hearing a new Motorhead song and simply being, "That was a fair Motorhead song." (Mind you, Motorhead is one of my favorite bands ever knowing full well how they work.)
Much of this album left me with similar feelings. "Into the Endless Abyss" is a sweet, atmospheric black metal song that the band has been at the forefront of doing for a while now. It would stand up to anything on Sunbather, but for whatever reason, Nachtmystium didn't catch on as the IT band of their genre like Deafheaven did.
Having said all my criticism of their "critic-proof" approach, there are a few songs that transcend the rest of the album. The title track of the album is a great blend of Alcest-like hypnotic beauty and the band's usual left-of-black-metal-center approach. "Voyager" is an epic journey of a song through every style of Nachtmystium and into other territories atypical for the band.
Finally, the album's closing song, "Epitaph For A Dying Star" really sounds like a band on their way out (which it seemed like they were at the time). If Nachtmystium were to mash-up one of their own songs with the Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky," it would be this song. It is a chill-inducing beautiful song that remains hideous on the surface. Lyrically, it's very open about Blake Judd's drug use coming to an end or, like I've alluded to, it could refer to the end of the band. Regardless, this will go down as one of the band's finest song, and it would have made a fine swan song for the band.
Overall, my feelings on the album range from "that's alright" to "that's amazing," so I'd have to say that I feel positively about the record. However, aside from the few songs I raved about, I can't see myself dying to re-listen to most of this. If it comes up in my iTunes shuffle, I'm not changing it though.
There was an added emotional investment to the album during my first listen when it still was slated as their last. Part of me was a little excited as a legitimate fan to hear that they aren't over, but I liken it to hearing that Arrested Development was returning for a fourth (and now fifth) season. I'm more worried about the legacy somehow being tainted by future disappointment. Then again, I'm the kind of person that wants to hear all there is to hear, so I look will be there when there's more.