As I prepare my review for Nachtmystium’s new album Silencing Machine, I am also preparing myself for the barrage of comments from lonely black metal fans who see no purpose in life other than to bestow the self-righteous moniker of “true” black metal or the harsh ruling of “fake”. These are the kids that will see Silencing Machine as a fraudulent entrance into the icy Carpathian black metal forest. Those kids will mostly likely die with a musical view so closed that they cling to Immortal’s first album as true genius.
For the rest of us, those who use the third eye crowbar to wedge open our minds, Silencing Machine will commence to the rocking of the face off. Six albums in and Nachtmystium show no signs of slowing down. Instead, Silencing Machine is a culmination of what the band has accomplished thus far. Some of Silencing Machine drips with the tense black metal of early Darkthrone or Emperor, while other sections of the record land squarely on the psychedelic side, embracing a love for forward thinking seventies prog rock.
Nachtmystium jump right in with “Dawn Over The Ruins Of Jerusalem”. The template of this song is built in black metal, but Nachtmystium also rope in some dissonant chords and even wind the song up with a thrash groove. Harsh musical climate changes are part of what makes Silencing Machine hit harder than other bands in this genre. The keyboards just beneath the triumphant guitar line in the end of “Dawn Over” are subtle, but add a nice depth to the song.
“And I Control You” is where the band takes further steps out of black metal. The intro of the song is like that of something Megadeth might perform if Kraftwerk drained the humanity from it. As bombastic as “And I Control You” gets, the band never allows itself to just go the easy black metal route. The middle is more a noise song; the way Thelonious Monk tunes used dissonance to create feeling. Between that noise creeps a thin guitar line that gives an evil backbone to the song structure.
“Borrowed Hope And Broken Dreams” is one of the standout tracks on the album simply because it abandons the formula the Nachtmystium is famous for. Yes, there remains a black metal fire in the vocals, but the music is all psychedelic seventies rock. No blast beats, no rapid-fire guitars, just a catchy riff held together by a keyboard line that would make Yes proud. It’s nice when a band so soaked in one genre stretches their creative muscles the way Nachtmystium do.
As Silencing Machine continues, the songs stay more or less in the black metal vein but continue to show the Nachtmystium spark. The entire album is about perception. If you see black metal as a genre unable to grow past its own understanding of itself, then Silencing Machine will sound like thin sellout music. If you see black metal as a genre that can grow and evolve into many different branches, then this record will move you.
There are some troubling spots on the album. Much of the production is thin, which is fine for standard black metal but not something as intricate as Silencing Machine. The vocals also start getting boring as the album goes on. You’d think with so much experimentation going on musically that the vocals would grow beyond what they are. None of these issues are game changers, just little issues that took away from the impact of the album.
Silencing Machine shows us that once we’ve caught up to what Nachtmystium are doing; they are already beyond the curve.