Silencing Machine

01. Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem
02. Silencing Machine
03. And I Control You
04. The Lepers of Destitution
05. Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams
06. I Wait In Hell
07. Decimation, Annihilation
08. Reduced to Ashes
09. Give Me the Grave
10. These Rooms in Which We Weep

[Century Media]

Nachtmystium are arguably at the forefront of the North American black metal scene, and they’re there for good reason. They challenged the genre in their own way with their appropriately titled two-part Black Meddle album series that infused raw black metal with poppy melodies and industrial grooves to create an intoxicating blend of psychedelic black metal that was equal parts challenging and accessible, providing a great gateway for many to the genre. After their bout of experimentation, the band felt it necessary to pull in the reigns a bit and strip back their sound for something a little more traditional in their latest effort, Silencing Machine.

Before fans of the boundary-pushing Black Meddle albums decide to throw in the towel at the prospects of a less-adventurous record, Nachtmystium’s psychedelic industrial aspects are still very much intact. While there aren’t really any dance beats or borderline pop rock jams to be found, the band’s love for synth, groove, and guitar solos remains as a very important aspect of Silencing Machine. Stylistically, Silencing Machine would feel like a perfect fit in the Nachtmystium discography between the band’s more straightforward traditional black metal origins and the band’s more experimental Black Meddle outings.

While the strive to return to their roots is an admirable move and will likely please purists, Nachtmystium are arguably at their best when they’re pushing the envelope and not merely standing alongside convention. That isn’t to say that Silencing Machine is uninteresting; many lush melodies and hooks find their way through the murky atmosphere and the band’s psychedelic leanings do keep things on the cutting edge, as with the anthemic penultimate track ‘Give Me The Grave.’ However, without the almost avant-garde personality that the band have started hinting at coming into something greater, Silencing Machine feels a bit underwhelming.

What Silencing Machine ultimately lacks is dynamic. When you’re not dealing with an array of surprising moments and changes in sonic texture and style, songs that reach up into the 6-to-8 minute mark feel anti-climactic and tedious. Perhaps the band have set up certain levels of expectation or some listeners will have a hard time tackling Silencing Machine in a vacuum as its own unrelated entity (this reviewer clearly biased in that manner), but this step back in sound sees the band flirting with monotony at times. Fortunately, many of the band’s forward-thinking aspects remain and keep things from relying too heavily on tremolo picking and blast beats.

Criticisms and frustrations aside, Silencing Machine is still a stand-out release that keeps the band at a steady pace ahead of many of their peers. After all, it is still Nachtmystium at the end of the day, and they rely on more than black metal tropes to get by on a track-per-track basis. There is substance in Silencing Machine, but it may take some effort to find. Considering the band’s discography, they should never be taken at face value, anyway.

Nachtmystium – Silencing Machine gets…


– JR


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