Nachtmystium – Addicts: Black Meddle Part II

First off, let’s talk about what Nachtmystium‘s Addicts is not.  It isn’t a black metal album and it isn’t a psychedelic album.  Nor is it a psychedelic black metal album or any other sort of mashup of those two genres.  Do you want to hear my theory about what Addicts is?

Addicts is a pop/arena/dance rock record, and a damn good one at that.

Yes, I firmly believe Blake Judd and Co. want to have a good ol’ fashioned whiskey, cocaine and groupie-filled rager at the local enormo-dome, and dammit, I want in.

Addicts starts off in semi-traditional black metal fashion with “High on Hate”, but surely even this song is too melodically and vocally infectious to be considered “true” BM.  The track might be there to fool the listener, or it could be Judd waving a symbolic final adieu to his roots, as if to say “I can do this shit in my sleep.”  However, the band incorporates black metal elements throughout the album, so this could be more of a long farewell than a hard goodbye.

After that is where things get really interesting.  “Nightfall” sounds like the Sisters of Mercy and the Misfits gettin’ jiggy in the depths of hell.  Then comes “No Funeral” a song that could be an outtake from the Faint’s classic Danse Macabre album with its death-disco synths and processed-sounding drums.  This jam is catchier than herpies at Studio 54, and I can just imagine a gaggle of dolled up Suicide Girl-types bumping and grinding to it.  Hopefully this song will garner a video filled with tons of drug and alcohol abuse, curvy trollops and sparkling bling.

From there, we get “Then Fires”, an arena ballad that’s positively drowning in a junkie’s shit, piss ‘n’ vomit, followed by the title track that sounds like a great lost ’90s alternative rock anthem.  It’s possible that I might be losing it, but I swear there is a part in that song where the guitar tone reminds me of Sebadoh’s Bakesale album.  These songs hammer home Nachtmystium’s pop sensibilities in spite of the bleak lyrical content.

Unfortunately the next two tracks, “The End is Eternal” and “Blood Trance Fusion” are filler that should have been left off of Addicts.  I would have much preferred a couple more certified club bangers like “No Funeral”.  These songs display the remaining vestiges of Nachtmystium’s ties to black metal and are the album’s weakest moments because of it.  “High on Hate” is a sufficient enough nod to the past.

The album redeems itself with “Ruined Life Continuum”, a song that sees everything coming together for the band; the electronic/synth touches, the big rock dynamics and the Sisters of Mercy/Joy Division-esque drive.  “Every Last Drop” brings things full circle by recalling the Floydian qualities of Nachtmystium’s previous album, it is the band’s very own “Welcome to the Machine”.  Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont provides some haunting guest vocals while the band weaves a dark, trippy soundscape to close out Addicts on a haunting note.

Obviously, Addicts is not a perfect album.  Judd needs to get rid of the black metal trappings altogether and let his freak flag fly.  At this point, the band’s ties to black metal aren’t doing anything but holding it back.  The vocal approach also needs to change in order for Nachtmystium to realize their full potential.  Judd’s screams and rasps are too one-dimensional to adequately compliment the music.  Finally, the lyrics and album art are both equally garrish.  I understand they are meant to paint a picture of the dangers of addiction, but the music could be served by a bit of subtlety in both departments.

In spite of (or possibly because of) these faults, Addicts is a compelling album, and one I can’t seem to stop listening to.  It is a snapshot of a band in transition, a band that could just as easily rule the world or go down in flames.  Either way, I’m on board and ready for that coke party down at the enormo-dome.

Oh, one last thing, I’ve included the Faint’s “Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat”, just so you can dig the stylistic similarities.


One thought on “Nachtmystium – Addicts: Black Meddle Part II

  1. Nice review. I think I agree for the most part – the album kicks post-punk/”BM” ass maybe 70% of the time, with the remaining 30% taken up with relatively embarrassing gestures. I absolutely agree that the lyrics on this album are completely atrocious, which in this case might actually be an argument AGAINST decipherable vocals in metal.

    As far as your claim that the album seems intended to warn of the dangers of addiction and substance abuse, though, I’m not so sure – it seems to me that this whole thing might be equally celebratory, in the sense that Shining celebrates self-harm (I guess, though that bullshit gets tired REAL fast), or that Carpathian Forest wants me dead (after buying their record), or whatever. I agree that I’d like to see some subtlety, which this doesn’t particularly have much of, but I think what it does have is awkward ambiguity. Or, rather, I think that the ambiguity comes across as awkward to me precisely BECAUSE it seems to be aiming at (but not quite hitting) subtlety.

    I totally dig Wrest’s drumming on this album, though, and definitely agree that this makes for some tasty summer dance jams.


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