Dark, angry and violent are three words that came to mind after first listening to Nachtmystium’s newest release titled “Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1.” After reading up on the band and taking a second to listen, however, the violent became slightly political and downright ballsy. The rub is that even the lyrics that seem obviously political can also be perceived as straight-ahead, hard-hitting metal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Hailing from the city of Chicago, founding member Blake Judd (vocals, guitar) brought together Jeff Wilson (guitar), Tony Laureano (drums) and Zion Meagher (bass) to make black metal magic. With his low rumbling growl, accompanying heavy-handed drumming and razor sharp guitar and bass work, Judd manages to sneak in ambiguous commentary that can mean anything to everyone who dares to listen. While Judd’s singing style makes understanding the lyrics a challenge, the listening experience is that much more exciting when the lyrics have an opportunity to shine through.
On the title track and on the track titled “Your True Enemy,” lyrics like, “We feel nothing…elitists/rejecting weakness/we stand alone/pride does not die,” and “Know this now/I never sleep…I will never betray myself” speak to America’s position (real or not) as a world super power. Those same lyrics can also appeal to hardcore metal fans that reject conformity and just want to tear things up. On “Ghost of Grace” Judd speaks to the indifference shown to those who lived through events like the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. “And the storm left nothing/and the storm left all…and the storm took nothing/and the storm took all,” are arguably some of the ballsiest lyrics in metal. For those less concerned with interpreting the meaning of the song’s lyrics, just riding the instrumentation is a head-trip in itself and it offers little opportunity to be disappointed.
While there is a strong vocal presence on “Assassins,” it is the music that shines the most throughout the recording. With songs like “Seasick” (parts 1-3) and “One of These Nights” being strict instrumental records every other song on the record features at least one to two minutes of pure, uninterrupted music. There’s no label fitting enough to describe the energy Meagher, Wilson and Laureano give from start to finish — they’re just awesome. If you weren’t paying attention before, wake up and take head. Nachtmystium is in the building.