Nachtmystium - The World We Left Behind [Century Media Records - 2014]Nachtmystium has been a controversial band not due to church burnings or murders, but because of the (alleged)actions of vocalist/guitarist and frontman Blake Judd. No doubt you’ve at least heard some of the stories that surround Judd: hard drug use, ripping off fans, apparently being a douche in general. And with the announcement that The World We Left Behind would be the last Nachtmystium album, people were finally thinking that this would be the last we’d see and hear of Judd. But just a couple days ago, Judd issued a statement on Facebook saying that he would continue the band, naysayers be damned! An attempted cash grab? Genuine interest in pursuing the project? At the very least, this announcement has altered how this album is to be viewed. No longer the band’s swan song, The World We Left Behind is just another album (the seventh) for Nachtmystium.
The World We Left Behind is largely a continuation of the psychedelic post-rock meets black metal fusion pioneered by the band’s previous albums. “Into the Endless Abyss” is the only true black metal on the album, and even then that lacks the aggressive edge so essential to good black metal, and is instead of the happy variety. It’s kind of a frustrating listen. The instrumental intro “Intrusion” is a cool little number that showcases some sweet, haunting guitar riffs over a marching drum beat before revving up to an energetic gallop. “Fireheart” follows up with its hard-hitting riffs, fantastic vocals, and an awesome chorus, but the album takes a nosedive with the happy post-rock tremolo riffs on “Into the Endless Abyss.” The rest of the album hobbles along but never truly reaches even being good. Most of the songs are wallowing, mid-paced tracks with no real sense of ambition, pace, or aggression.
For the most part, the guitar work is solid and I love the unusual guitar tone. It’s just the lack of songwriting ability that cripples the album. There are very few good riffs and it essentially falls upon Judd’s vocal performance to carry the album. And while he does do an excellent job at wringing a great deal of emotion out of his voice, it’s not enough to make up for the weak riffs. Lyrics are rarely important to me, but given that Judd goes to great lengths to make sure his vocals are understandable I feel that he deserves some recognition for them. Instead of going for the typical “Hail Satan, Fuck God!” lyrical approach favored by so many bands, Judd uses intensely personal lyrics on The World We Left Behind to great success. Intended as a big “Fuck you!” to all the people who doubted him, these lyrics stand as a monument to his success. “Voyager” is a great example of these lyrics.
“Taking a moment to reflect, to decide, what is next. Here I stand, in your fragment of time. Is any of this real? Is this not all a lie?”
For the most part this works to Nachtmystium’s advantage, but “Tear You Down” features some shitty, generic, tough-guy lyrics. Still, on the whole, the lyrics are unusually good. It’s a shame that the same level of effort wasn’t put into the rest of the album.
Looking back at The World We Left Behind is going to be an interesting experience. Oddly featuring lyrics more suitable to a farewell album, this is no longer the band’s final album. I would say that this is a good thing though, given that the album isn’t all that great. Instead of a weak swan song, The World We Left Behind is just a stumble. Given that Judd plans to continue Nachtmystium, there should be time to give the project the sendoff it deserves. Tyler L.