Nachtmystium – The World We Left Behind (Century Media)Tuesday, 5th August 2014
The swansong that you see coming means a certain level of pressure to deliver on a level that you’ll be remembered for. It’s been a very long two years for Blake Judd since the release of the formidable Silencing Machine in 2012 and The World We Left Behind currently stands to be the final hurrah for his endeavors beneath the Nachtmystium banner (though given his continual ambiguity, who knows). It’s with that in mind that The World We Left Behind can’t help but feel disappointing given the hype leading up to it and even its place within the greater Nachtmystium canon. Influences and subsequent results abound on this release, all tethered by Judd’s lyrical explorations of the abyssal spheres of addiction and the many terrors they bring but at times it feels old hat, others it feels half-baked. It’s a perplexing release, successful and failing almost in equal measure for a number of reasons.
Rumors have circulated since Silencing Machine’s release in 2012 that Andrew Markuszewski was the driving force behind its excellence and given the strength of his work with Avichi earlier this year compared to what is on display here, it’s kind of hard to argue it. Black metal exists in pieces throughout though it is at its most foremost on the over-long ‘Into The Endless Abyss’ and is matched in other forms by Chromewaves-like bounce of ‘Fireheart’. In other places there is an almost punk-like feel to ‘On The Other Side’ and some legitimate awesome tucked away within the foul pit that is ‘Tear You Down’.
There are times, however, when the contents in reality seem to ring hollow against the shadows of their intent. This is an unfortunate reality on the mid-album title track, which ultimately feels like a broken mirror reflection of songs past (especially from the Assassins) and infused with a dream of the meander, even Judd in a state of nigh-perpetual monotone throughout. Experimentation has long been an aspect of the band’s bent but while the industrial flavor of eras past resurfaces from time to time, the biggest miss comes from the female vocal-draped closer ‘Epitaph For A Dying Star’. The song itself serves well enough with its gradual cascade from point to point (and is even topped off with a set of pleasing solos) but the female vocal that hangs over the first half of the song initially seems completely out of nowhere and, even after repeated listens, still hasn’t settled in properly, something akin to a tumor of sound lodged in the closing minutes of the album’s life, unavoidable and crushing.
For all the pockets of brilliance scattered throughout the length of The World We Left Behind, there is an almost intangible sense of emptiness that continues to ring throughout. Maybe it’s the lack of a quality supporting party, maybe it’s that after the last few years of abuse, addiction, and soul-searing living, Judd just has little left to give. Whatever the cause it’s one of the bigger disappointments not of just this year but for a band of Nachtmystium’s history to end on such a sour, exasperated note. Last year ‘Voyager’ was released in a demo-like form and it seemed to bode well for what would become The World We Left Behind. If it had been left at that perhaps it would’ve left a whisper of wanting in the metal world never to be completely fulfilled, a legacy sealed in an unfinished monument of what could have beens instead of this hollow reality.