Nachtmystium – Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1 (Century Media Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Perhaps the most significant USBM act outside of Xasthur, Chicago’s Nachtmystium continue their ascension in the extreme metal ranks with Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1. For anyone that has followed the band’s trajectory, it is both remarkable and hardly a surprise Blake Judd and co. are churning out this unique, savory blend of psychedelic BM. More accessible and palatable than 2006’s Instinct: DecayAssassins is BM art at its most challenging and expansive.

Backed by session drum maestro Tony Laureano (Nile, God Dethroned, now on the road with Dimmu Borgir), Assassins finds Nachtmystium experimenting more with driving, hard-headed tempos (“Ghosts of Grace” and “Code Negative”) while keeping their DIY BM aesthetic in place via catchy, shout-along choruses that pleasantly arise during the aforementioned “Ghosts” and the title track.

The band’s experimental, loose vibe is still very much evident on “Away From the Light” and excellent three-part closing suite “Seasick.” The suite traverses down roads ranging from somber, forlorn passages in “Pt 1: Drowned At Dusk” to jangly, jazzy textures (check out the cool sax solo from Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont) in “Pt 2: Oceanborne” to the final, foreboding strands of “Pt 3: Silent Sunrise.”

Nachtmystium’s lurid experimentation is only matched by the cohesive and memorable nature of their songs. Fact of the matter is, Assassins has a wealth of disparate, quality ideas that fit comfortably under the BM banner, with all components working in conjunction with one another. Hot off the heels of Keep of Kalessin’s massive Kolossus, it appears “troo” BM has been given a nice shot of adrenaline.

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