posted on 9/2012 By:
When people ask me nowadays what kind of music I listen to, my reply is much different than, say, twenty years ago. I bet there’s others out there guilty of the “rock and rap… really anything but country” answer, before finding bands they deeply loved. Things can get quite exclusionary, and without getting into bitter specifics, lately I say “mostly metal, but really anything that carries weight or taps the darkness”. Combinations are welcome — plus bonus points for weird streaks (usually).
Much of that comes from my early affinity for Faith No More. In fact, this may be the first time I publicly state that Roddy Bottum had a direct impact to my expectations of keyboards in heavy music. The band consistently eschews tradition, always sounds wholly like themselves, and sparks imitators that are mere shadows at best. This is not to say Nachtmystium sounds anything like FNM; both are adventurous in their own right, but one is noticeably starker. Bonus points for guessing which. And since he’s about to come up, I will say that producer Sanford Parker sounds altogether better here than through previous keyboard meddlings.
Silencing Machine has no filler. Opener “Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem” is the shortest song here at 4:28, vicious and efficient with a genuinely unsettling opener that can exacerbate a hangover on the right (wrong) morning. At any rate, right on its heels is the title track, with disorienting riffing, an undeniably fist-raising chorus, and Parker’s piercing punctuations bore more maniacally that Orin Scrivello. “The Lepers of Destitution” also finds Parker synth surrounding the chaos, albeit more as a warming glow, and dressing samples into the mix, including (I believe) Timothy Leary repeating “we have to see, we have to know”. Immediately following, the crystalline riffs plucked from “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams” are as delicate and deadly as a rooftop icicle, primed to plunge into your brain, and we end side A “lost in this dream” right alongside our protagonist.
To start side B, “I Wait in Hell” has another sweet quote, this time from Hellraiser 2: “Hell was what he wanted, and hell is what he got.”. Well call me Orpheus, because I was ready to march right down there. Mainman Blake Judd is vocally at most ferocious yet whips out the most tasteful of solos, before bringing back to full circle acerbity.
Simpler, punky drum patterns from Charlie Fell appear in “Decimation, Annihilation”, then again resurface amid bubbling bass and hollow rasp in “Reduced to Ashes“. There’s more than that, though — it’s the interplay at work, and a spin with good headphone will set you straight. Nothing on Silencing Machine as as simple as it seems on first pass; like the cover art, most of the skeleton is clearly visible, but the murky layers range from thick muck to enveloping mist. There’s nuance, variation, and flourishes to savor.
However, “Give Me the Grave” is practically a fucking pop song, which cracks me up. If it weren’t for the deliberate dissonance and innately fearsome nature, that “FALL TO HELL” chorus would be blasting out of every teenager’s car who even thinks they may like heavy music. Speaking of which, the following statement will probably either fall on deaf eyes or blind ears or whatever, but for fucksakes, if anyone reading this plays music with some sort of breakdown: Blake Judd > jud jud. Bend and shape those notes until they convey meaning both to and from you, until they service the goddamned song, until they’ve got soul (and, ideally, are super bad).
Nachtmystium is a conduit to the darkness. It’s built right into their name. In nature, hybrids evolve over scores of generations, but human music moves much faster, and given our history, the climate is only recently right for well-produced, strong-yet-fragile, atmospheric-but-not-psychedelic, bleakened black metal that still knows how to fucking rock.
You know, when not grim.
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