Nachtmystium, a black metal band from Illinois, is one of those bands I heard a lot about but never checked out despite my interest in hearing them. When news dropped that they were releasing a new album this year, I decided it would be a great way to introduce myself to the band (the idea being that they have progressed their sound even further with this new release). The World We Left Behind was, more or less, going to prove just how interesting the band really was to me.
“Intrusion” kicks off the album with a fairly straightforward black metal guitar riff. As the riff builds with the addition of drums and other guitars, so does the excitement to hear what the band offers next. This riff builds even more until it changes to this powerful gallop that further creates interest in what is going to happen next. Suddenly, the riff drops, ending the song and starting the next, “Fireheart”, like the introduction didn’t even exist. This transition left me saying “Wow. That’s it?”.
The rest of the album follows this same mistake, making it sound like every song is directionless. On top of that, the song structures are all in the very straightforward verse chorus verse style. For some songs, this works. The track “Voyager” uses the structure rather well, as the verse and chorus individually are interesting enough, but together are even better. Overall, the song feels like it has some sort of direction. The previously mentioned “Fireheart” also does this structure some justice. The verses stay to a mellow, melodic black metal sound, then the chorus kicks in and the mood changes to one that sounds powerful and triumphant, giving an almost power metal feel with a melodic black metal sound. Other than that, most songs could afford a more interesting structure due to some lackluster instrumentation, lyrics, and vocals.
That said, the production and how the instruments and vocals sound is actually very well done. Nachtmystium choose to take the clearer, crisp side of black metal rather than the traditional, raw sound. Nothing on this album sounds like it is overpowering anything else with the exception of the bass, which is usually to be expected from black metal. The execution is where the problem lies, with the vocals and lyrics being one of my biggest gripes with the album. I do commend Blake Judd for his pronunciation, as most lyrics can be heard fairly clearly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to hear what he’s saying. From what I picked up, there is nothing gripping or innovative about his lyrics. Sometimes it even sounds like the band is trying to hard to be depressing and deep. The delivery of the vocals is poor as well, as Blake has a very normal black metal scream that gets old fast, due to the fact his pitch or style never changes. However, on the last track “Epitaph for a Dying Star”, we hear some almost gospel-like singing. This refreshing change in vocal delivery is executed well and fits with the sound of the song.
The instruments on this record are not inherently bad, but there’s nothing that really stand out and with such simple song structures the instruments need to keep it interesting. The verses and choruses sometimes sound good the first time around, but by the second, they just leave me wanting to skip the rest of the track. Individually, I do think that there is some good musicianship here. The drummer was the biggest standout to me, and one the most interesting aspects of the album. On every song, Sam is able to match the mood and sound of the song, like every good drummer should. A good sounding drum set, as well as some great production, make him sound that much better. The guitar work on here is hit or miss. Some songs include a very interesting riff that fits well with the tone they are going for. On songs like “Into the Endless Abyss”, the guitar work is what sets the song up as more depressing and sad. Then, when these riffs are repeated, that once interesting riff becomes something you wish would just end. The guitarist does do some solos here and there, but most are nothing to write home about, with the exception of the solo towards the end of “Voyager”. The solo is not overly technical and stays mostly on the melodic side, which fits the songs perfectly and is a nice way to end the track.
Did The World We Left Behind keep me interested in the band? Not at all. This album had some interesting ideas brought to the table, and they try to experiment with different sounds to make this album stand out from all the straightforward black metal coming out recently, which I can respect. Had they been done in a more interesting matter, this would be a very solid release. However, the poor execution of these ideas just makes this album sound directionless and boring.
Track worth checking out: Intrusion, Fireheart, Voyager, Tear You Down.
“The World We Left Behind” is an album by black metal band Nachtmystium. Upon first listening to this album, I started to wonder what the hell Nachtmystium was doing. This album is mainly just a garbled mess, full of un-syncopated grooves and terrible tones.
It starts with a song called “Intrusion”, which reminds me of a bad metal cover at a middle school talent show. This overly morose and somewhat stupid guitar playing goes on for over half a minute, till the stale drums and bass hit in. My god, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything this based since the band Cliterate’s song “G.O.Please”. It changes later into this riff that probably had the guitarist thinking “I’m a genius!” for having something just chugging along. It was hard not to skip the track. It was hard not to skip the next track, either. It starts out with the same sort of lazy guitar, only this time it seems to begin with what I can only describe as a burp from the lead vocalist. This track, “Fireheart” features a vocal style which is what I call the “waking up 3 hours after you went to bed to go to work” voice. It doesn’t fit with the song at all. I will admit, I did like the progression that came in around 2:20 of this track, but sadly it doesn’t last. Used riffs and unoriginality follows.
“Voyager”, the third track, sounds exactly the same to me. It’s 1/3rd longer, but that doesn’t make it much different, only harder to endure. At this point in the album, you’re beginning to wonder why you decided to listen to it in the first place, as it has done nothing to impress. But, that isn’t the worst part of this album. The worst part is that it never deviates from the same tone. It never has that undying nature. The best possible way to describe this album would be a word I’ve used numerous times in this review: stale. That’s what this is. This isn’t an album, this is biting into a potato chip that’s been sitting there for a day. It makes you cringe. It makes you wish you hadn’t bitten into it. In the end, you start to wonder what it did to make you curious in the first place.
I didn’t like this album.
The World We Left Behind is out now on Century Media.