Nachtmystium Instinct: Decay

After stumbling their way towards forming a distinct and recognisable sound in the past, U.S. black metal troupe Nachtmystium have found themselves with one hell of a record on their hands. Intentionally forgoing the more polished tone of 2004’s Eulogy IV in favour of an overall muddier mix may upset some, although there is a considerable depth to the mix that was missing from that effort. There have been some interesting inclusions and expansions to Nachtmystium’s formula, elevating them well beyond the benchmark supposedly set by Judas Iscariot. For one, the melodic leads that have recently slipped into the group’s sound have been relegated to a more ambient role. They’re still there, and still instantly memorable, but take album opener "A Seed For Suffering” as an example with its soaring lead progression that pops up about two-thirds of the way through, eventually seeing the track through to the very end. While repetition is used to support the enveloping atmosphere, don’t go into this expecting a monotonous exercise. On top of the scattered space rock/progressive tendencies and an ambience somewhat akin to the works of depressive black projects (Leviathan, Xasthur), there is even the occasional traditional heavy metal homage, and some almost (god forbid) fun, upbeat moments of rollicking death’n’roll. All of these contrasting elements are wrapped into a package that is, perhaps unbelievably, just as coherent and well-assembled as it is innovative and dynamic. (Labrador)