Last year, following three albums and two EPs that increasingly and relentlessly strained against the boundaries of black metal, Blake Judd’s ongoing project Nachtmystium delivered Silencing Machine, a work that returned, somewhat, to the genre’s roots. At the time of the album’s release, Judd did an interview with Brandon that suggested the artist was both rediscovering black metal and regrouping somewhat. Said Judd:
I didn’t want to try to outweird ourselves, it would’ve felt desperate and forced … I really didn’t know where to go next with that whole adventuring process we did on those last two records … Overall, my interest in metal has come back … I’ve finally been able to get back into metal as a fan. I got really burned out on it.
If Silencing Machine is Nachtmystium’s swan song, the band will have gone out on a high note. Judd, in the meantime, has put his focus elsewhere: his new full-time band, Hate Meditation. Judd told me via Facebook, “Hate Meditation is my main focus currently as Nachtmystium is on somewhat of a hiatus for the time being.”
That’s a crucial distinction, considering the astonishing number of black metal side-project “supergroups” currently swapping members in and around Chicago: There’s Twilight, of course (featuring a rotating cast including Judd, Wrest of Leviathan/Lurker Of Challice, Sanford Parker of Nachtmystium/Minsk, Stavros Giannopoulos of the Atlas Moth, Imperial of Krieg, Aaron Turner of Isis/Old Man Gloom/Jodis, Malefic of Xasthur, and of course Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth/Chelsea Light Moving). Then you’ve got Chrome Waves (Giannopoulos, Jeff Wilson of Wolvhammer/ex-Nachtmystium, and Bob Fouts of Apostle Of Solitude/ex-Gates Of Slumber); and Corrections House (Parker, Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod, and Bruce Lamont of Yakuza/Bloodiest). And the Hate Meditation lineup is no less loaded. Along with Judd on vocals and guitar, the band features Wrest on bass, Job Bos of Dark Fortress on synth, and Sam Shroyer of Vitandus on drums.
The band has signed a two-album deal with Norway’s Indie Recordings (Kvelertak, God Seed, Cult Of Luna), the first of which, called Scars, will be delivered in 2013. We’ve got the first track to be released from Scars right now. On “The Genocide March,” Judd has delved deep into the roots of second-wave black metal, matching the minimalist bleakness of Burzum’s early albums with the dexterity and dynamism of Emperor’s 1994 classic In The Nightside Eclipse. “We intentionally went for a more ’necro’ sound on this album to capture the raw nature of the music,” Judd told me. “I really went out of my way to do my best at making this NOT sound like Nachtmystium at all.”
At that, in some regard, he’s failed: His compositional choices — hyperspeed rhythm on the verses; slow, epic builds on the chorus — recall the similarly sturdy constructions of his very best work; his scorched voice, even run through a new set of broken effects pedals, remains expressive and vast. Listen.
Scars will be released later this year via Indie Recordings. As for touring, says Judd, “We have plans to do some exclusive shows both in the States and in Norway down the line, but Hate Meditation most likely will not ever be a touring band.”