US psychedelic black metallers Nachtmystium have returned (sort of) with their seventh studio album “The World We Left Behind”, which has been released during a prolonged period of uncertainty over the future of the band. However, despite all of the turmoil surrounding the band, the largely new line-up have delivered a decent, if at times a little mixed up, album.
Since moving away from the raw sound of their early albums, Nachtmystium (led by sole remaining founder member Blake Judd) have experimented and included various styles and sounds into each album, always offering a lot more than many of their peers and “The World We Left Behind” continues in that vein. After the instrumental opener ‘Intrusion’ you are hit with ‘Fireheart’, a catchy mid-paced number that has moments reminiscent of Sonic Youth (perhaps a hangover from Judd‘s recent work with Thurston Moore), apart, of course, from Judd’s familiar vocal rasp. ’Voyager’ follows and is probably the most run-of-the-mill track on the album; decent enough in its own right but, when surrounded by everything else, it seems to be lacking a little something. Up next is the first real hint of their old sound with ‘Into The Endless Abyss’, although that is given a fresher sound through some added sound effects.
‘Into the Absence of Existence’ slows things right down, being a very mellow and melodic track with a quiet backing vocals that bring Judd’s vocals to the fore, making the depressive lyrics more legible. The remaining tracks on the album tread similar paths to what has gone before, with the electronically-tinged title track, the fast paced ‘Bring You Down’ and ‘On the Other Side’ which rivals ‘Fireheart’ for big hooks. The album closes with ‘Epitaph For a Dying Star’, an acoustic number that doesn’t really add an awful lot and seems like the only really predictable point of the album.
This is a band who have always looked at black metal slightly differently, and although those ideas have once again crafted some fine songs the album struggles from everything being thrown in together. It feels more like a compilation or a retrospective than a full new album. There is a lot going on at the moment with issues surrounding the frontman, and they are well-documented elsewhere online, but disregarding that, even not at 100% this band can produce better than a lot of the scene, although this one doesn’t seem to flow well for me. Still worth a listen though, as when it does work it sounds excellent.