Nachtmystium Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1

Every once and a while a metal record comes along that, while inevitably alienating long-time fans and drawing a line between their "respectable” and more recent material, elevates the group responsible to the next level of critical and mainstream recognition. Assassins is undoubtedly that album for Nachtmystium, partially due to their jump to industry giant Century Media, but more fundamentally due to the brilliance and relative accessibility of the music. Placing increased emphasis on the psychedelic flirtations scattered throughout 2006’s acclaimed Instinct: Decay, Assassins is barely a black metal record, and this is a good thing. A heavy Pink Floyd influence often gives the songs a measured temperament, although the tension and bleak, frosty chording of their early work are still very much present. The vocals are still heavily reliant on the standard blackened rasp but the hooks are highlighted more prominently by the startlingly clean production. Guest drummer Tony Laureano (Nile, Angelcorpse) adapts his usual blast-happy approach to suit the group’s charred, sinister dynamics to great effect. Likely to interest an audience beyond the usual genre sticklers, Assassins is the realization of something hinted at on prior efforts, and the next step towards greatness for Nachtmystium. (Century Media)