It is encouraging to see that those outside of black metal and critical circles have recognized the enormous talent of a band called NACHTMYSTIUM. The Chicago act scored big with 2006's "Instinct: Decay", a tour de force of progressive black metal, dark atmospheres, and swirling psychedelic tones. Based on the success of that album and the buzz built on earlier releases like "Eulogy IV" (Southern Lord), guitarist, vocalist, and mastermind Blake Judd found himself and his henchmen signed to monster metal label Century Media, an unlikely pairing, yet one that demonstrates the surprisingly widespread appeal of NACHTMYSTIUM. As a cure for the hungry, the band's first shot across the bow for its big league debut is a terrific EP called "Worldfall", one that includes two new tracks, a re-recorded cut, and two cover songs, all of which are performed with aplomb, as expected.
Both new songs, the title track and "Depravity", are outstanding additions to the NACHTMYSTIUM arsenal. The former is a shimmering bleak beauty that flows with a steady beat, echoing vocals (Judd sure does love the reverb), whispers, and shifts to sections of quicker tempo led by those now-trademark fuzzed-out, melody-based solos. The most effective parts are the choir vocals — courtesy of co-producer/co-engineer Chris Black (PHARAOH, SUPERCHRIST) and Judd — that drive the main melody. "Depravity" harkens back to the atmosphere-drenched black metal fury that put NACHTMYSTIUM on the map; from blasting to mid-tempo march, and rife with distorted riffs and a mesmerizing shouted chorus, the tune is a grand one.
Recording a great song like "Solitary Voyage" (from the "Demise" album) and giving it the Judd/Black/Djuric studio treatment was a smart move, as the song's triumphant cadence and the moog-created melody really brings it to life. What a fantastic song!
The cover choices of DEATH IN JUNE's "Rose Clouds of Holocaust" and GOATSNAKE's "IV" work not just because they are strong cuts to begin with, but also because the NACHTMYSTIUM reinterpretations are done in a way that makes them the band's own. The band's rendition of "Rose Clouds of Holocaust" (with lead guitar by Chris Black) in particular is powerful and the gothic/folky melody is damn addictive. The sludgy, SABBATH-esque devil blues of "IV" is kept largely intact, yet shrouded in that peculiarly NACHTMYSTIUM aura.
For an EP with only two new tracks, "Worldfall" is surprisingly gripping. Then again, is it really all that surprising? Come on, this is NACHTMYSTIUM we're discussing here. Can you imagine the possibilities for the upcoming full-length album?