Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Record label: Century Media
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Black Metal
More has been written about Blake Judd’s character, political leanings, legal troubles and general woe-begotten recent history than his often ground-breaking music. Of course, he is the leader of rock ‘n’ roll hellions Nachtmystium – whose transition from orthodox black metal into star-gazing sonic tricksters has been thoroughly enthralling for anyone even remotely interested in heavy metal. Their new (definitely not final) album The World We Left Behind continues the ever-elusive career trajectory that Judd and co have been mapping since 2006 masterpiece Instinct: Decay.
Chicago-based black metal entity Nachtmystium, more or less the work of its founder and sole constant member, Blake Judd, created some of the more important statements in black metal to come out of the United States as its sound developed throughout the 2000s. Starting out as traditionally modeled raw and tumultuous black metal in the style of Norwegian BM legends like Darkthrone and Mayhem, the band slowly grew more experimental, conceptually daring, and musically challenging with unconventional dips into prog, electronic ambience, and other unlikely forms of musical brutality on albums like 2006's Instinct: Decay. Eighth studio album The World We Left Behind came after a difficult stretch of years for Judd, who struggled with drug abuse as well as imprisonment for theft, not to mention numerous complaints from fans who claimed he took money for Nachtmystium merchandise and flagrantly failed to deliver the goods.
If the purpose of the ubiquitous instrumental album introduction is to set the mood for the material that follows, then “Intrusion" is a score of functional genius. But the opening to Nachtmystium's latest record, The World We Left Behind, doesn’t establish a tone that’s particularly infernal, anxious, depraved, or depressive—qualities to be expected from what might be the final record from these black metal modifiers. Instead, the spiraling, simple riff and plodding rhythm section betray a presiding laziness, a lack of effort and imagination that feel altogether alien for the long-intriguing Chicago band.
Nachtmystium were no more. The preceding sentence should bring a grimace to the face of folks who have been directly affected by founding member Blake Judd’s drug-fuelled exploits. Having finally burnt all bridges with former band-mates and fans after being arrested in 2013 for directly stealing monies from customers to fund his drug habits, Judd is now left a lonely soul; lost in the aftermath of addiction, bad mistakes and underhanded criminality.