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Nachtmystium - "Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II" (CD)

Nachtmystium - "Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II" CD cover image

"Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II" track listing:

1. Cry For Help (1:33)
2. High On Hate (3:36)
3. Nightfall (3:21)
4. No Funeral (5:39)
5. Then Fires (5:44)
6. Addicts (4:24)
7. The End Is Eternal (7:03)
8. Blood Trance Fusion (3:30)
9. Ruined Life Continuum (4:41)
10. Every Last Drop (8:30)
11. Macrocosmic (4:20)

Reviewed by on May 29, 2010

"Chronicling tales of addiction and all the problems that come with a rock star lifestyle, the album is a roller coaster of ups and downs all rooted in a sludge of black metal."

In ten years Nachtmystium has swung completely across the black metal pendulum, morphing from a raw and cold act to a psychedelic group out for a trip and now onto something else entirely. The latest entry, “Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2,” has a little bit of everything the band has done before, and even a few new twists. Chronicling tales of addiction and all the problems that come with a rock star lifestyle, the album is a roller coaster of ups and downs all rooted in a sludge of black metal.

“Cry For Help” gets the album started on an odd note. It’s essentially the requisite atmospheric intro, but it takes such a weird turn it feels like the listener needs to be under the influence of a mind altering substance to fully grasp the concept. An echoing drum beat pops in and out of a vast void of silence as the vocalist spells out “N-o-t-h-i-n-g h-u-r-t-s m-o-r-e t-h-a-n b-e-i-n-g b-o-r-n.” While that’s misanthropic black metal at its most despairing, the medium for sharing that despair is truly bizarre and baffling.

“High On Hate” makes it seem like the disc has done a huge 180 straight back into standard blast beating black metal. Three minutes later “Nightfall” throws a curveball at a now complacent and unsuspecting audience. It might take a moment for the full impact to sink it as the radically different elements come together. Whether it’s the tambourine, the clean vocal work, or the backing “woah-oh’s,” it suddenly becomes apparent that this is both ‘70s rock and black metal at the exact same time.

“No Funeral” doesn’t bother sticking to that same idea, jumping head first into dance floor techno that shows off why vocalist Blake Judd calls the album “black metal disco.” The addiction themes are also occasionally worked directly into the music, instead of just in the lyrics, for fascinating results. “Blood Trance Fusion” goes on the journey of experiencing a cocaine high, and the pace of the music suddenly hits warp speed after the line “Oh, doctor, give me the dose!”

The various rock and electronic stylistic touches work exceedingly well within each individual track, taking the extreme metal format to a totally different place. Even when radio friendly elements show up, there still isn’t any danger of the phrase “sell out” getting into anyone’s head. The music is composed specifically to advance black metal without forgetting where it came from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work as well between the tracks, as there isn’t a whole lot of flow in the album. Some of the transitions are overly abrupt, and several of the ending tracks lose the interesting elements that made the opening songs so attention grabbing.

“Then Fires” is a bit of a letdown in comparison to the other tracks, as it doesn’t have nearly as many progressive elements as any other song. The track’s main element is a pretty standard and uninspired guitar solo that fails to provide any real punch. “The End is Eternal” is another entry that heads back into standard black metal territory and is more forgettable because of the experimentation surrounding it.

“Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2” continues Nachtmystium’s progression and heavy experimentation into the depths of what extreme metal can be. Performances from Wrest of Leviathan and Will Lindsay from Wolves in the Throne Room make it a sort of perfect storm for U.S. black metal fans who don’t mind non-traditional elements. As with any brave trip into the unknown, there are a fair share of missteps, but the overall package is solid and should satisfy the Nachtmystium fan base.

Highs: Crazy experimentation takes the album into '70s rock, dance floor techno, and droning ambient sounds.

Lows: There isn't much flow to the album, and the more standard black metal tracks stick out like sore thumbs.

Bottom line: An experimental trip that hits on classic rock and dance floor electronica while still being planted firmly in black metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)