Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II

Candlelight Records
Produced by Chris Black and Nachtmystium

Addicts... is the fifth full-length studio from Chicago's Nachtmystium, and after the nearly unanimous praise garnered by the album's predecessor Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt I, expectations were understandably set fairly high.

The album begins with a lone electronic-sounding drum beat which repeats and slowly increases in volume and intensity while echoing in a swirl of nothingness. As the beat continues, the listener hears the following phrase spelled out one painfully-uttered letter at a time: "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" - and then the album launches full force into the wonderfully black High on Hate. Yeah, it's obvious from the start that this album really is about addiction, and the gamut of emotions, insanity and loneliness that accompany it. Not even a minute and a half into the first musical track, and guitarist/vocalist Blake Judd is screaming the macabre question, "Don't you want to die?"

Surprisingly, the album takes a turn for the slightly upbeat with the following track, Nightfall, which is a typically fast and thrashy black metal number with a nice catchy rock beat punctuated by tambourine. Still, the lyrics - this time evoking images of a werewolf or Dr. Jekyll type of character who turns (against his better nature) to mischief in order to feed his thirst - keep things somewhat on the somber side. The next track, the unforgettable No Funeral, seems even more unusual at first, with its synth-pop beats and mixture of live and synthesized drum beats - but again, the lyrical theme (as well as the key of the music) continues along the now familiar gloomy path.

Speaking of gloom, the track Then Fires is definitely one of the more desolate songs on the album, but it's also one of the highlights in terms of showcasing the unique songwriting talents of this band. The song's verses plod along in a 7/8, 7/8, 5/8, 5/8 rhythm - one which is quite odd, but which actually sounds quite smooth when executed by this talented group of musicians. The solos at the track's halfway point are almost reminiscent of something Pink Floyd would have performed, and the atmospherics at this point of the song are accentuated very well with the (synthesized?) sound of howling wind in the background. All this, plus the loneliness of the addiction theme continues to be explored and expressed via lyrics such as "Another night inside / Another day to die". One can't help but wonder whence the inspiration for such darkness came.

As if the previous song weren't enough, the album's title track definitively slams home the punch line for the album by importuning, "Make me see / Like before / All I want is more / Come with me / I want yours / All we need is more". This miserable plea is somehow made beautiful in a strange sort of way however, by the well-executed use of a vocoder and some very catchy vocal harmonies.

The next track, The End Is Eternal is a return to the "standard" black metal style that is at the heart of the majority of Nachtmystium's music - although arguably the group has proven by now that they are capable of pulling off almost any type of sound with ease (flairs of thrash, punk, sludge and many other genres abound throughout the band's catalogue). For example, the track Blood Trance Fusion includes a squeaky electronic sound that kept reminding me of something The Pixies might throw into one of their songs. Then, the sound of electricity arcing between electrodes evokes the image of a mad scientist as Judd pleads, "Oh doctor, gimme the dose". At around 2:00 into the song, the proceedings turn to a nice thrashy gallop which is surely representative of the "patient" in question receiving his "medicine", all the while with that quirky little electronic squeak repeating in the listener's ear.

Afterward, the track Ruined Life Continuum starts out rather triumphantly, and offers the lone true glimmer of hope on the album. It's another upbeat number with an almost pop beat to it, but the guitars and harsh vocals still remind the listener that this is a metal album. However, as with the album's subject, hope is often illusory and fleeting, for the album's final track Every Last Drop is an atmospheric dirge that follows a slow spiral downward into utter decay. Literally, the song slowly degrades into its basic elements toward the end, and all that is finally left is a repeating electronic noise reminiscent of some sort of machinery operating which, in the end, simply ceases to exist.

Overall this album is an explorative tour de force not only in terms of the literal subject of the songs, but also in the various sounds which comprise the well-crafted music. Nachtmystium have proven yet again that they are not only masterful songwriters and storytellers, but also a very talented band of musicians who can wield the tools of their trade to fashion an almost unlimited number of different styles of music, all of which are technically competent and highly compelling.

“ gamut of emotions, insanity and loneliness ”

Tracklist: Cry For Help / High on Hate / Nightfall / No Funeral / Then Fires / Addicts / The End Is Eternal / Blood Trance Fusion / Ruined Life Continuum / Every Last Drop

Written by Chris Poling
More: 2010, Albums, Black Metal,

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