Review Summary: Psychedelic Bl...Whack Metal
Looking at the US black metal scene […] Wolves in the Throne Room […] atmosphere, but Nachtmystium's Instinct: Decay[…] psychedelic slant unlike Xasthur blablabla suicide blablabla…
I sometimes wish I could feign excitement for the US black metal scene. Sometimes I think I'll get there, but for every Wolves in the Throne Room there's about twelve Xasthur's. Somewhere in between the potent and the ridiculous sit Nachtmystium, a band who broke through the barrier with Instinct: Decay
, a surprisingly strong black metal outing that featured a unique psychedelic slant. It was, by all accounts, a success. But so goes the trend, because their long awaited follow-up is intensely disappointing. Instinct: Decay
is to The Empire Strikes back what this album is to The Phantom Menace. This album is, of course, the abhorrently titled Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1
--evidently their band name wasn't ridiculous enough.
The way things open up, you'd expect this to be a half-way decent album. "One Of These Nights" does in fact start Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1
off with a bang--a short-lived bang that's eradicated come the song's ultra ridiculous, hyper-gloriously ill-fitting sing-along. It takes just one song for the band's ever-present "don't call us black metal" ideology to take precedent. Nachtmystium seem to be more concerned with breaking down genre-walls than writing cohesive, listenable music, a thought that's amplified upon realizing that about 75% of the album is an unassuming, forgettable mess. Nachtmystium spend much of the album treading water, wading between fuzzy, aimless meanderings and uninteresting black metal conventions. When they start to stray, they're aurally assaulting the listener with unwelcome bouts of "psychedelia" and "diversity", something that snowballs into the Seasick trilogy of tracks, none more offensive than "Seasick Part II: Oceanborn", a track comprised exclusively of laser noises, saxophones and a technically impressive but thematically confusing barrage of Al Di Meola circa Elegant Gypsy
Before you know it you're listening to "Seasick Part III: Silent Sunrise" and the album is fading out without warning. And really, that's the problem. I could pardon some of the more ridiculous inclusions if it weren't for the fact that the album goes absolutely nowhere. After nearly a dozen spins, I fail to remember anything but the intrusive saxophone and the ill-advised shanty-town choruses, which ultimately result in about 90% of the album being absolutely forgettable 100% of the time. What's worse is the parts I can remember are the one's I'd pay to forget. To beat a dead horse for a moment, it's worth noting Bruce Lamont (of Yakuza "fame") and his work on the saxophone. Working alongside avant-weirdo metal band Sigh on their psychedelic romp Gallows Gallery, Lamont's sax playing worked in the context of the music. On Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1
, Lamont's playing comes off as intrusive--not because it doesn't fit in the frame of the song, but because there doesn't seem to be a song to frame it. It's a feeling that carries throughout, the feeling that this album at times exists solely to separate the band from the scene they so clearly fall within. Even the insultingly unfunny title hints that these guys, regardless of their obvious black metal foundation, are keener on ridiculing and defacing the genre as opposed to accepting their sound and creating something special within it. Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1
is either plainly forgettable or obnoxiously intrusive, and barring the occasional blues flair, saying it misses the mark would be a gross understatement. Instinct: Decay
proved there were still stones left unturned within a genre often noted for it's primal, almost frustrating simplicity, and while Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1
may not lower the band to Xasthur-ian levels of suck, it almost makes me wish they'd adopt Malefic's suicidal tendencies. Then, and perhaps only then, can the fears of hearing Black Meddle Pt. 2 be laid to Wrest.