Nachtmystium: Silencing Machine

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Nachtmystium: Silencing Machine
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Nachtmystium: Silencing Machine
Experimental Black Metal, Psychadelic Black Metal
Century Media Records
July 31st, 2012
Release length: 59:42
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Nachtmystium may have only formed back in 2000, but since then the group has built up a very loyal fan base. Back in 2002, they issued their debut album, Reign of the Malicious, and since then have continued to hone their Experimental and Psychadelic brand of Black Metal well, earning them great respect from the underground, and those that live above it. Since then, they have issued five full-length releases, all of which were met with high praise and low success from both fans of the style, as well as the critics. Silencing Machine marks their sixth effort, issued through Century Media Records, and is perhaps the most anticipated recording to date. So, the question becomes not whether this will strike a chord with their rather niche audience, but whether or not it will live up to, or even surpass their expectations.

Silencing Machine has a very unique sound to it that greatly works in the band’s favor. While clearly handled as a top-notch digital recording, there’s enough going on to give the impression of a raw studio. The guitars have a bit of a thinning distortion/edge to them outside of the leads and solos, enhanced by the deep bass guitar that can sometimes head into twanging territory. The snares of the drums are tight, but can still have a bit of a hollow sound behind them, while the cymbals are pretty crisp and clear, showing off the modern touch to the quality nicely. The bass kicks have more of a thud to them most of the time, but when the music does become a bit more open, you are able to pick up a click that seems to be masked much of the time. Of course the vocals are distorted a lot, having a deeper rhasp to them with a gurgling, yet static-covered effect over them to work nicely with the technological sound effects such as a higher pitched buzzing or mechanical screech, the sound of a television or radio turning off, and other sounds of that nature. This approach helps to convey the moods that the band is going for, whether pissed off and aggressive, or generally burdening and depressing.

Sometimes there’s also that mechanical vibe in the distortion utilized. “Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem” welcomes the listener in with sirens blaring in the background, and a heavy static layered over it that the melancholic, yet somewhat melodic Black Metal chords greatly benefit from to give it a robotic sensation. The aggressive, yet deeper vocals here and there, as well as pounding snares and kicks give it an icy touch, but far from that of a general Depressive Black Metal offering. It welcomes the listener into the oppressive terrain well before “Silencing Machine” kicks in with a far more aggressive outting. The static effects cut out from left to right at certain intervals, and while the pace doesn’t pick up, this venomous track sounds louder and more commanding with leads that create a dismal landscape. The chorus is a bit out of nowhere with a glorious and catchy approach quite different from the destitute of the main verses, but it works well thanks to solid transitions in and out, captivating the anyone hearing it on a somewhat epic scale. “Decimation, Annihilation” isn’t quite as angry, but does still boast a bit of a obedient mandate. The music is driven by the twanging bass with a simple, slower groove to the Black Metal chords that sound a bit upbeat, but not enough to kill the oppressive tones offered on previous songs. The vocals are also kept to a strict minimum, and the music slowly grows richer as it progresses, allowing a rhythm to really come through and hook you into bobbing your head along, though perhaps not as hard as the two aforementioned cuts, or the others scattered about. This one really does cater more to the Experimental side of things, and while it isn’t a bad one, it’s definitely not one of the most impressive to be found, outside of being memorable for what it is.

“The Lepers of Destitution” rids itself of much of the static and other noises that appeared at the start, as well as elsewhere in the album. The chords here are much slower, though some mid-tempo passages do chime in here and there, allowing the bass to come through well and push the cold, desolate vibe of the environment this album easily establishes. While it isn’t the most chilling of Depressive Black Metal inspired offerings, it is quite impressive with the melodies incorporated, as well as what sounds like victorious and mournful keyboards adding a truly saddening glory to the mix. “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams,” however, becomes a completely different monster all together. Another slower offering, some slight mechanical effects are used here and there, but for the most part it carries the destitute atmosphere better than the previous track’s title alludes to. It also holds a very strong Gothic Rock sound to the drums and cleaner guitars that fans of Sinamore may appreciate a little more than Nachtmystium‘s. While instantly infectious with simpler hooks that carry a gloomy sense to them, all that is missing would be the deeper cleaning singing instead of the harsh rhasps and distortion. If you can look past this not really being a Black Metal track, then it’s something well worth experiencing.

Unfortunately, not every song on here is that great, and at the point of “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams,” it does seem to spiral away from what the band had set out to do in the first place. “Reduced to Ashes” seems to carry more of a Progressive Metal touch with some guitar work that feels a bit astral in a Space Rock sense, and “Give Me the Grave” departs from the Black Metal concept once again to incorporate a catchy Gothic Rock tone that is a little empty, and more generic than before. The main perk of this one is that it better suits the vocal approach the band uses through the album. “These Rooms in Which we Weep” returns things back to the Black Metal style, but the slower approach ushers in a Depressive touch similar to “The Lepers of Destitution.” It isn’t a bad song, but after the previous three tracks that pull you out of the fluid nature of the environment, as well as the progression of the music itself, it does become a little harder to get back into. The additional keyboards do appear here and there to allow the colder sensation of isolation to settle in well, but overall the seven and a half plus minutes makes for a good offering, but nothing to really go crazy over, ending the release on a decent note, though not offering much in the line of closure, something desperately needed given the tone of the album up to this point.

Silencing Machine is a very intriguing release that shows Nachtmystium continuing to grow, as well as expand their musical inputs. While not all of the songs fit the environment laid out at the start, the tracks that can establish a strong atmosphere do a fantastic job of it and really leave a memorable impression on the listener that will have him or her coming back time and time again. However, at the point of “Decimation, Annihilation,” the music starts to lose its impact as it journeys further out of the Black Metal realm, touching on largely different styles with a rather typical sound. If you’re a fan of Nachtmystium, or just a unique approach to this style in general, then Silencing Machine will impress you for the most part, and does deliver on many of the expectations you lay out for it, even though less than the last half may not come close to matching them in the long run.

01. Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem – 4:28
02. Silencing Machine – 6:26
03. And I Control You – 6:14
04. The Lepers of Destitution – 8:30
05. Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams – 5:10
06. I Wait in Hell – 5:45
07. Decimation, Annihilation – 4:55
08. Reduced to Ashes – 5:08
09. Give Me the Grave – 5:30
10. These Rooms in Which We Weep – 7:38
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Nachtmystium (Band)
Nachtmystium (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.