Nachtmystium // Silencing Machine
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Instinct: Decay all grown up! *sniffle*
Label: Red General Catalog | Century Media Records
Websites: facebook.com/OfficialNachtmystium | Full Stream
Release Dates: EU: 2012.07.30 | US: 07.31.2012
I’ll be honest, I only jumped on to the Nachtmystium bandwagon with the release of Assassins, their genre re-defining, first Black Meddle album which in mastermind Blake Judd’s words was “oh you didn’t think Instinct: Decay was black metal, wait until you hear this, fucker.” I was in love. The psychadelia-soaked guitars and spacey synths really spoke to the part of me that likes things different, and this love affair continued with the followup album Addicts. It was only in the space between the two that I looked back into Nachtmystium‘s discography and more importantly Instinct: Decay which was much more straight forward than it’s progeny but still with a forward-thinking edge. However, it didn’t stick with me as the Black Meddle albums did and I probably haven’t spent as much time with it as I should have.
In spite of the sketchy sounding As Made EP released earlier this year, my worries that Nachtmystium had lost their edge were set aside with assurances that the full length would be a very different animal to the drum-machined monotony of the EP. The first thing that should be made clear is that Silencing Machine is not Black Meddle, and rather a progression of the sound present on Instinct: Decay. It is cut and dried USBM: raw, unashamed and visceral in its presentation. From the opening mouthful “Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem” it is clear that the band set out to make a very down-to-earth black metal album with no delusions of grandeur. In spite of this, Silencing Machine does feel like it has learned from the Black Meddle twins and the guitars and general mix are not unfamiliar. There is also a tinge of psychadelia with the occasional synth hit or a Moog line lurking just beneath the reverb-drenched surface.
Gone are the singalong Feel Bad Hits of the Winter like “Nightfall” and “Ghosts of Grace”, instead replaced with fist-pumping, anthemic choruses. The groove present in the title track and “I Wait in Hell” is infectious and really gets stuck in your head while Blake Judd’s fuzzed-out snarl is venomous as ever. The Black Meddle albums were catchy in a poppy way, with the big hooks coming straight at you, but Silencing Machine is much more insidious; beneath the rumblings there is always something to latch on to and get your head moving but never as blatant as before. The songwriting is also very diverse. “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams” is probably the closest to a “No Funeral” as it gets on the album (sans that catchy organ line) whereas “The Lepers of Destitution” turns into a funeral doom worship session reminicient of Skepticism, complete with indistinct samples and an absoluetly crushing rhythm.
To call this Instinct: Decay Redux would be a misnomer since it is definitely a more mature and “educated” album in comparison. Black Meddle was a chance for Judd to go wild and really craft some oddball (in the genre of black metal, at least) tracks. Instinct: Decay was a solid album, but had some really bizarre ideas (that intro to “Here’s to Hoping”. What?!) while Silencing Machine feels like a college graduate with an education behind it. I really have to be in the mood for this particular brand of black metal and so I doubt it will get much repeat play outside of specific scenarios, but it is certainly not a bad album. At its heart, Silencing Machine sounds very deliberate and is above all consistent; not too long, not too short and definitely a whole new chapter in the Nachtmystium saga.