Blake Judd has never kept his affinity for both black metal and new wave a secret. Instead, he has long bridged the two with Nachtmystium, then slathered his compositions with plenty of personal turmoil. But this evil marriage hasn’t ever been as apparent as on his newest offering, The World We Left Behind.

Touted as Nachtmystium’s final release, the hype that preceded its arrival is warranted. It is Judd’s most refined work, teasing dark emotions like demons strumming the strings that control a malignant marionette. His feral rasp casts insulated hooks that extol a desire to shake free from the chains that have pulled him into the depths. From the title track to stand-outs like “Fireheart” and “Into the Endless Abyss,” he hammers away at this notion across the persistent roar of guitars and pile-driving rhythms. “In the Absence of Existence” captures the pain and restlessness simply when Judd sings, ”Hidden away/ Alone I pray/For a quick death every day.” By the time The World We Left Behind ends with “Epitaph for a Dying Star,” it feels as if he has been emancipated, the disparate artist released from all that has held him captive.

Just shy of the release of the album, Judd wavered on his decision to bury his primary band once and for all. It has long been told that his modus operandi for Nachtmystium is his own bloodletting, and this notion is more tangible given his much-publicized troubles leading up to The World We Left Behind. Given that the resulting nine tracks stand up against anything that he has previously released, this should attest to why Blake Judd should keep the unit in tact, both for himself and for his contributions to modern metal.

The World We Left Behind brims with inner rage, and regardless of whether or not this is the swan song for Nachtmystium, it is one of their best.

The World We Left Behind is out now on Century Media Records.

Rating: 4/5 Stars