Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part I
Century Media
Psychedelic Black Metal
10 songs (45:05)
Release year: 2008
Nachtmystium, Century Media
Reviewed by James

Nachtmystium have never got quite the same attention as their countrymen Xasthur and Leviathan, and I hope that changes for them soon as Assassins: Black Meddle Part I is a real breath of fresh air in a scene often far too obsessed with the more depressive side of the black metal spectrum. While most USBM bands seem to be content to ape the “Big Two”, Nachtmystium have a focus on pushing the envelope with their use of psychedelic atmosphere and unusual instrumentation (Yakuza man Bruce Lamont turns up to add saxophone to Seasick Part II: Oceanborn) Admittedly, Blake Judd's “We're not black metal!” shtick he repeatedly gives in interviews can be a little grating, but I still have vast respect for him simply for daring to be different.

As you may have guessed from the title's reference to Pink Floyd's 1971 opus Meddle, Assassins is an attempt by the band to fuse black metal with a 70s psychedelic sound. And sure enough, the record opens up with a reworking of Pink Floyd's One Of These Days, here titled One Of These Nights. There's more than a little bit of humour to the band's version, and I'm sure black metal purists will cry foul at Nachtmystium having the nerve to do such a thing. They'll have far more to complain about once the title track kicks in, as the band are playing a streamlined type of black metal similar to latter-day Darkthrone or Satyricon. I've never had a problem with this particular style before, but it's fair to say many bands use it in an attempt to cover up exhausted creative juices. Luckily Nachtmystium have the chops to pull this style off. The songs are catchy and concise for much of the record. Oddly enough, some tracks have an almost indie rock feel to them, with the opening riffs to Ghosts Of Grace and Seasick Part III: Silent Sunrise fitting in nicely on an Editors or Interpol record. I have to admit I'm not too keen on Blake Judd's vocals, being something of a hoarse shout with very little character to it. He's tolerable though, and in the world of black metal, any vocals that'll get the job done are acceptable.

The Pink Floyd influence isn't as strong as you'd expect, mostly limited to the spacey keyboards hiding in the background of most tracks and the occasional burst of David Gilmour-esque soloing. Luckily the songs are strong enough that we don't feel a bit short-changed, but I do feel the band don't go nearly far enough. Luckily, the Seasick suite sees the band indulging all their experimental urges to make the record's strongest moment by far. It's barely black metal, plumping for druggy swirlyness over freezing spite, but I'd love to see the band take this path on future records.

The band don't go quite as all out as I'd have liked, and even at 45 minutes it feels far too short, but Assassins is one of this year's strongest black metal releases, and hopefully a taste of things to come. Here's to Black Meddle Part II.

Killing Songs :
One Of These Nights, Ghosts Of Grace, Seasick
James quoted 87 / 100
Alex quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Nachtmystium that we have reviewed:
Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind reviewed by Goat and quoted 50 / 100
Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2 reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
Nachtmystium - Doomsday Derelicts reviewed by James and quoted no quote
Nachtmystium - Worldfall reviewed by James and quoted no quote
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