A psychedelic guitar wall accompanied by insane vocals

Nachtmystium’s Instinct: Decay

May 30th, 2006
Battle Kommand, Southern Lord

Blake Judd — lead & rhythm guitar
Sinic — rhythm guitar
Lord Imperial — bass
Wargoat Obscurum — drums
Chris Black — additional lead guitar
Marcus Launsberry — additional rhythm guitar

The context in which black metal is made has always intrigued me. However, I don’t want to say that it is necessarily more interesting than the music. Context makes black metal vastly more interesting and open to digestion. Whether it’s the patriarchs of black metal burning churches and murdering each other, Ulver allegedly recording outdoors in a forest, or the pure irony of unblack metal, the typical characteristics of the genre are given more weight and awe with a back story blurred between fiction and reality. Blake Judd’s Nachtmystium (a German-Latin portmanteau meaning “encompassing darkness,” or more literally, “night of/for belonging to secret rites or mysteries”) is no exception to this rule. Judd’s drug fueled nihilistic approach to music is reflected rather warply and psychedelically in 2006’s Instinct: Decay.

Judd describes his sound as a “’do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want’ metal band.” Electronic and droned out interludes are spaced throughout the album. Even though traditional blast beat grooves are utilized, Nachtmystium sometimes falls into two-steps and basic punk grooves, which ends up contrasting rather nicely against the basic backbone of black metal. Judd’s approach to the genre ends up adequately communicating his own distraught psyche. Judd has served time for theft, struggled with heroin, scammed record labels, and ripped off his own fans. For some time, Judd appeared to live in his own delusional fantasy world. The album’s aesthetic reflects his state of mind (just look at that cover: a thorny vine sprouting from a darkened brain). Instinct: Decay was released prior to these events, but they are somehow anticipated in the album’s sound.

Nachtmystium doesn’t record in the forest, but the production is hazy and uncomfortable, but not particularly lo-fi. All of the lows get lost in a giant wall of blackgazed guitars. In fact, Nachtmystium’s full sound on this record is drowned in guitars and their effects. Bass, double bass, guitar leads, and the occasional vocal line, get completely buried at points. On the other hand, rhythm guitar and the cymbals — yes, the cymbals — are impossible to escape and drive this lumbering monster forward. Even with decent recording techniques and equipment, intonation is still sacrificed for a moody quasi-psychedelic sound scape.

Instinct: Decay is brutally honest and a sonically unsettling album. Do not expect to be overcome with excitement by the musicianship and composition upon first listen. Instead, expect a heavy punch to the face.

7/10

A few takeaways:

-Wargoat Obscurum’s drumming is painfully boring.
-Lead guitar lines could be brought to the surface more.
-Side B of the album has the meat — “The Antichrist Messiah” and “Here’s to Hoping” specifically
-I combed the Internet for lyrics but couldn’t find anything.