Live at the Hole in the Sky, Bergen Metal Fest 2008
|Origin||Wheaton, Illinois, United States|
|Genres||Black metal, psychedelic rock|
|Labels||Century Media, Candlelight Records, Battle Kommand Records, Southern Lord|
|Past members||Blake Judd
Nachtmystium was an American psychedelic black metal band formed by Blake Judd, formerly known as Azentrius, and Pat McCormick. The band's name is derived from the German word Nacht meaning "night", and the made-up term mystium which resembles the Latin adjective mysticum. Judd and McCormick combined the words to create the band's name, which they state means "Encompassing Darkness". Nachtmystium released multiple critically praised albums between 2005 and 2012, including Instinct: Decay (2005), Assassins: Black Meddle, Part I (2008), and Silencing Machine (2012). Controversy marred the band's success in 2013, when Judd was arrested for theft charges and publicly admitted he had a severe drug problem. Over their 13-year run, Nachtmystium released seven full-length studio albums and headlined multiple concert tours.
Nachtmystium was originally founded by Blake Judd and Pat McCormick as a side project. The band was heavily influenced by second-wave black metal bands, such as Darkthrone and Burzum, evidenced in their low-fi first release Reign of the Malicious in 2002. The band’s next release, Demise (2004), was described by Judd as Nachtmystium's "last straight forward 'raw black metal' record." The band's following two releases, Eulogy IV (2004) and Instinct: Decay (2006), incorporated psychedelic and experimental musical elements that were pioneered by bands like Black Sabbath, The Doors and Pink Floyd. Instinct: Decay received general positive feedback from critics. DEAF SPARROW Zine praised the album for its innovation, while Decibel Magazine went even further to name Instinct: Decay as the fourth best album of 2006. The band released Assassins: Black Meddle, Part I on June 10, 2008 in America. The album received a generally positive critical reception, especially from Pitchfork Media and MTV's Headbangers Ball, who both stated that it was one of the year's best releases.
Assassins' success caused the band's popularity to increase. Nachtmystium played their first Scandinavian show in Bergen, Norway at the 2008 Hole in the Sky Festival with At the Gates, Municipal Waste, and Meshuggah. Nachtmystium toured with Opeth, Baroness, and High on Fire for the first half of their American tour. In 2009, the band released a remastered version of Demise, with two extra tracks. and also released a new EP, entitled Doomsday Derelicts. The band experienced two major setbacks in February and March 2009. Nachtmystium was forced to withdraw from the Scion Rock Fest in Atlanta, Georgia due to alleged connections to National Socialist black metal (see Connection to NSBM section). Later that month, Judd injured his leg, forcing the band to cancel their tour with The Haunted.
In September 2009, Nachtmystium announced plans to release a follow-up album to Assassins: Black Meddle, Part I with an album titled Addicts: Black Meddle, Part II. Judd commented that the album would feature new material with "more of a rock and roll edge over all", and reflect the bands interest in post-rock and industrial music. The album debuted on June 8, 2010. The band played at the Inferno Festival in Oslo, Norway, on April 3, 2010, where they shared the stage with Mayhem, Finntroll, and Taake.
Nachtmystium began recording for their new album in early 2011. The progress of the album was impeded by the departure of Judd's longtime band mate and friend, Jeff Wilson, who left Nachtmystium for personal reasons. Finally, In 2012, Nachtmystium released their sixth full-length studio album, Silencing Machine. The album marked a departure from the band's previous two Black Meddle albums. Judd described the album as "a follow-up to Instinct: Decay". He further stated that the album has "still some psychedelic vibes here and there, but overall it's much more on par towards our older material". The album was positively received by critics, including Sputnikmusic, Allmusic, Popmatters, and Pitchfork Media.
Following a brief hiatus, the band started working on a new studio album during the summer of 2013. Judd was arrested on October 5, 2013 on charges of misdemeanor theft by unauthorized control of property. Nachtmystium was forced to cancel their shows through November 1, 2013. After his release on November 1, Judd issued a statement detailing his legal struggles and battle with drug addiction. Judd stated that Nachtmystium had come close to finishing their final studio album, The World We Left Behind, with plans to release it in 2014. Judd stated that he would be leaving the band and his residence in Chicago to focus on rehabilitation and recovery for an 'indefinite amount of time'. On November 13, he announced that Nachtmystium was officially disbanding and thanked his fans for their support over the band's 13-year run.
Nine months after Nachtmystium's break-up, Judd expressed interested in reuniting the band to work on an unspecified future project. Drug rehabilitation and fan support rekindled his desire to continue working on music for Nachtmystium. He elaborated, “I have actually decided not to end the band. The time I announced that Nachtmystium was no more came after a series of really difficult issues and situations, and I decided it was time for a major change in my personal life." The World We Left Behind was released on August 5, 2014. The album garnered mixed critical reception. Critics were polarized by the album's song structure and lyrical composition. The Line of Best Fit praised The World We Left Behind, stating "[Nachtmystium] have returned to their best style — tempered, refined heavy rock that uses the finest extracts of black metal to supplement an already engrossing sound. Pitchfork Media cited flaws such as "the absence of transition and sequence, the lack of focus and coherence, the presence of awful lyrics and middling riffs.". The Quietus summed up the album stating, "it is predominately dull and uninspired. It is a truly forgettable album written during a time that its creator would clearly like to forget."
In late August, multiple fans complained that they failed to receive copies of The World We Left Behind that they purchased directly from Judd. Prior to his 2013 arrest, fans accused Judd of failing to fulfill purchase agreements without issuing refunds. Judd stated that he had run out of copies for distribution and was waiting for Century Media to deliver more copies to him. As more and more customers began to question the status of their orders, Judd and Nachtmystium's Facebook storefronts were abruptly shutdown without any explanation. On September 5, Century Media issued an official statement about the situation and asked fans to contact them directly about unfulfilled orders from Judd. The label also announced that they will no longer work with Nachtmystium to release and distribute new albums. Deadlight Entertainment, a French label that was producing and distributing band merchandise and albums, also announced they were cutting ties with Nachtmystium in wake of Judd's questionable past business practices and recent controversy.
Nachtmystium's line-up has frequently changed since its formation. Furthermore, while the band originally started as a black metal band, and even toured with black metal acts such as Angelcorpse, Goatwhore and Watain, Judd has frequently stated that the band should not be considered black metal per se. In an interview with DEAF SPARROW Zine, Judd stated, "What separates us from your average black metal band is that we're NOT a black metal band, we're a 'do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want' metal band and black metal happens to be what we build our foundation off of (in the case of Instinct: Decay and its predecessors), if you must categorize the rhythm sections of our music (rhythm guitars, bass and drums — the core of any album)." J. Bennet of Decibel Magazine described the band's sound as "Blackadelia". Jason Bracelin, of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, compared the band's latter work to Pink Floyd, claiming, "[Assassins] is what happens when Pink goes black." Since the release of Assassins, the band has received additional press-coverage and attention from media outlets, including Metal Maniacs, Terrorizer, CMJ New Music Monthly, and Metalkult.com. Despite their departure from the black metal genre, Carlos Ramirez of IGN.com listed Assassins as one of the ten greatest black metal albums. "Tear Me Down" from the album The World We Left Behind contained musical and lyrical themes based on Judd’s struggles with his heroin addiction.
Connection to NSBM
Nachtmystium's second demo, entitled Unholy Terrorist Cult, was unofficially re-released by Vinland Winds, an American National Socialist black metal (NSBM) record label, in 2001. Vinland Winds made CD-Rs without the band's knowledge and designed their own layout for the CD-Rs that were distributed with different cover art. In 2002, their first full-length album, Reign of the Malicious, was released on Regimental Records and then distributed by Unholy Records, who were an imprint of the white power skinhead label Resistance Records, and dealt mostly with National Socialist black metal bands. Judd claims that upon learning of the arrangement, he did not want Nachtmystium to become associated with a NSBM label, and demanded Resistance Records stop selling the band’s albums.
In 2005, Metalreviews.com interviewed Judd to discuss Nachtmystium's recent work and background. During the interview, Judd dismissed MTV and the mainstream media as "Zionist means of demoralizing young American's [sic] artistic standards." He initially claimed the statement was taken out of context, but later remorsefully acknowledged and renounced his comment.
In 2006, Judd said, “In the past, we’ve had some indirect ties to labels and bands that are part of the NS scene. At one point not too many years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for NS labels or bands to trade and work with non-politically motivated bands and labels because at the end of the day, we’re all trying to promote, release, and be involved with music—all politics aside. Today it seems like there’s less of a connection, at least for me and my label. We don’t oppose people’s right to be ‘NS’ or whatever—that’s a personal choice, and if you live in the USA, you have the right to that opinion. Even though I personally, my band(s) and my label have absolutely no interest in being a part of that scene, I will ALWAYS take their side when it comes to their freedom of speech being imposed upon.”
Just before the Atlanta, Georgia Scion Rock Fest on Saturday February 28, 2009, Nachtmystium was forced to cancel at the request of the festival's promoters, and sponsors, Toyota, on Tuesday February 23, 2008 due to an unnamed source, who believed the group was a "Nazi" band. Judd promptly released a statement after the incident, stating, "We will be taking legal action against the people who slandered us in this situation, and in the future will file defamation / slander charges against any person or organization who attempts to prevent us from performing anywhere, especially in the United States. So - let it be known loud and clear for the LAST TIME, we ARE NOT a Nazi band, ARE NOT political, are certainly NOT racists and DO NOT support that world or any band, person or business affiliated with it." He also apologized to Nachtmystium fans who traveled to the concert to support the band.
- Reign of the Malicious (2002)
- Demise (2004)
- Instinct: Decay (2006)
- Assassins: Black Meddle, Part I (2008)
- Addicts: Black Meddle, Part II (2010)
- Silencing Machine (2012)
- The World We Left Behind (2014)
- Nachtmystium (2003); re-released together with Reign of the Malicious (2004)
- Eulogy IV (2004)
- Worldfall (2008)
- Doomsday Derelicts (2009)
- Holocaust of Eternity (2000)
- Unholy Terrorist Cult (2001)
- Nachtmystium/Zalnik (with Zalnik) (2001)
- Nachtmystium/Xasthur (with Xasthur) (2004)
- Daze West (with Krieg) (2005)
- Nachtmystium/Murmur (2011)
- Live Onslaught (2002)
- Live Blitzkrieg (2003)
- Live Onslaught 2 (2005)
- Visual Propaganda: Live from the Pits of Damnation (DVD, 2005)
- Live At Roadburn MMX (LP and CD 2011)
- The First Attacks, 2000-2001 (2004)
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