Assassins: Black Meddle Pt 1
8/22/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Nachtmystium's highly anticipated new release, "Assassins: Black Meddle Part I", has dropped, and man, what a sonic landscape they've given us. Ideas tossed about and hinted at on their previous effort, 2006's "Instinct: Decay", are now fully (home)grown and fleshed out. Current prevailing wisdom describes their modern incarnation as Pink Floyd (who released an album named "Meddle") melded with black metal, and as much as that description may seem hard to conceive, its pin-pointedly accurate. And hell, when your opening intro is a direct takeoff off from Pink Floyd's "One of These Days" – here entitled "One of These Nights" – it's no surprise. Opeth could be another comparative, but not in sound, only in compositional approach, both bands melding together varied styles into a tight, cohesive sound.
Before you fret, the black metal tendencies are still quite prevalent, and there aren't 20 minute plus meanderings ala "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" to quicken the effect of any mind-numbing substances you may be ingesting. Instead, the songs are all expeditiously consequential, and even the 8 minute title track, or the loosely strung 3 song trilogy - clocking in at around 11 minutes - are quick to achieve their desired effect. Other Floydian moments are found in the transitional track "Away From the Light", and the solos found on "Code Negative" and "Seasick (Part 3: Silent Sunrise)", drip with Gilmore-esque style.
All that being said, where "Assassins" truly slays is in its strength of song. I mean, there are no overtly technical passages, crazy time signatures, or bone-jarring shifts of pace to confound and perplex the listener, just judiciously excised melodies, riffs (sharp as katanas), and movements to make you want to bury and burn your brain cells into the grooves contained herein. The other thing that propels this release is the song order. An art that has been all but lost in the modern age, the pacing from song to song couldn't have been better. Absolute, sheer brilliance and it lends itself well to the overall canter at which the entire album proceeds. The only complaint to be levied against this epic is it's a bit mid-rangy in its production, although still quite clear and defined.
Sure to make many top ten lists this year (mine included), Nachtmystium have unequivocally
taken a huge step forward in creativity and execution over their last outing, "Assassins" stealthily sneaking upon the unwary listener, only to open his or her mind as to what can be unleashed when the confines of genre dictates are abandoned. The metal connoisseur will gravitate to this one in years to come, and hopefully, so will many of the rest of you. And hey, according to the title, this is only part one!?!
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