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"I Couldn't Ask for Anything Else"

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A big reason behind the groovier feel on Addicts is the drumming of Jeff “Wrest” Whitehead. Known by many as the mastermind behind solo projects Leviathan and Lurker of Chalice, Wrest stood in as Nachtmystium’s session drummer for the new record, and his simpler approach is a far cry from the more technically sound, taut drumming of Tony Laureano on Assassins. “He’s a really good friend of mine,” explains Judd.

“He’s the guy who turned me on to ninety percent of the music that has inspired all of this. I’d never listened to bands like Joy Division of Interpol before we made the first Twilight record. And he’s playing me Turn on the Bright Lights and I’m like, ‘This is fucking amazing. I’ve never heard this style, and if you played it to me two years ago when I was younger and still a necro black metal dude I would have told you to get fucked and (turn it) off.’ [Laughing]

“But my spectrum had broadened a little by that time and he turned me on to so much great music and styles that I’ve gone and studied myself and discovered other bands that are similar. I totally listen to a lot of that style of music now, more so than metal, this post rock and indie rock stuff. He kind of opened my ears to that, so I thought, who would be the best suited person to help me make something like this, and it made sense to choose him.”

He adds, “We work really well together, too. It was the same story for this record, and I’m so happy that I asked him to be involved and that he was willing to do it. And he’s really happy with the record too, which is cool because he’s notorious for not being totally satisfied with his albums after he’s done. [laughs] He can always pick them apart, and he really seems to like [Addicts] and the Twilight album.”

As for Twilight’s Monument to Time End, it’s an enormous leap from the lauded eponymous 2005 debut. With Wrest, Krieg’s N. Imperial, the Atlas Moth’s Stavros Giannopolous, the ubiquitous Sanford Parker, and Isis’s Aaron Turner all lending a hand, this second record is much closer to what Judd envisioned the project sounding in the first place. “This is what [Twilight] was supposed to sound like originally, but we didn’t have the funding to do it and we did the album on a four track in two weeks,” he explains.

“There was very little planning for it, it was very amateur in that regard. It was just an experiment more or less that got released and promoted as something that’s greater than it really was. The marketing on that record was, ‘It’s a supergroup!’ That album was recorded two and a half years before it came out and nobody in any three of those bands was popular at all. To put it out as this big cohesive, planned thing as a big American black metal supergroup was kind of ridiculous,” he adds with a big laugh.

Monument to Time End is considerably less audacious than Nachtmystium’s Addicts, but its sentiment is very much the same, not caring one bit about genre restrictions. One moment the music resembles the expansive soundscapes of Isis (“The Cryptic Ascension”), the next we hear tender synth touches atop a bruising arrangement (“Fall behind Eternity”), and the next the music starts to subtly reflect Depeche Mode (“8,000 Years”, the brooding “Negative Signal Omega”). With tracks ranging from five to just less than ten minutes, it’s an album that requires patience, but it’s a highly rewarding one upon repeated listens.

“I’m kind of the ringleader of that project, I started to put together the first one years ago,” Judd says. “For this one Wrest was just coming to Chicago to do some tattooing and he wanted to stay with me for three weeks, he was like, ‘I’ll tattoo for three weeks and the last week we’ll just hang out.’ I was, ‘If you’re going to do that, why don’t we get together at night the whole time you’re here, go into my rehearsal room, and we’ll make a new Twilight record.’

“We got Stavros from Atlas Moth because he and I were going to start a project together, and some of the material that actually wound up on the Twilight record was just going to be a project I was going to do with Stavros. Then we started rehearsing it for the first time with a drummer with Wrest, and that kind of immediately made it Twilight. He added to it, we wrote that record in three weeks, we had Neil from Krieg out in Chicago, got him to get some lyrics together and lay vocals down. Sanford was obviously in town so we were able to get in the studio and record.”

“The only person who wasn’t present for it was Aaron, and we sent him all the tracks via email and pretty much told him this is what we were thinking and what we’d like him to try to do, and he did it. He didn’t contribute a whole lot of guitat to that record, I think a lot of people think parts that sound like Isis, the opening track, that’s all me and Stavros, we wrote that whole thing, that’s him playing those clean leads that sound so Isis-esque. Aaron contributed more like clean vocals and weird ambient sounds and stuff. He did do some guitar shit, but not a whole lot.”

In fact, Judd and his friends are so happy with how Monument turned out that plans for a third album are already in the works, including a potential seventh member coming along for the ride. “[Monument] was a fucking awesome experience, and we’re going to do another one hopefully by the end of the year as well,” he enthuses. “We’ve got interest from some other people, namely Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, which is not confirmed at all, but Jeremy Lemos who is their sound man is the guy that owns the studio with Sanford, so there is a unique connection to Sonic Youth through him. Thurston Moore is apparently a big black metal fan, and Sanford has talked to Jeremy about talking to him being on this next record, and apparently he seems very interested. So there’s a small chance we’ll be collaborating with him, which would be a fucking dream come true.”

In the meantime, as the indie rock world proceeds to wet its collective pants over the prospects of Thurston Moore making an extreme metal record, Judd will be slogging along with Nachtmystium, hitting the road and playing shows to whoever will have them. Whether it’s savvy underground metal aficionados or curious indie kids, Judd is simply happy to have his music heard. To him, extreme metal should be an inclusive experience rather than an exclusive one.

“I’ve seen enough of both sides of the scene now, we draw a very diverse crowd,” he says. “We draw people out that are into stoner rock and have beards and Electric Wizard t-shirts on, we draw people that have Archgoat back-patches and are covered in leather, and then we draw indie rock people that are just music fans. I call them indie rock people, that’s a very fucking unfair generalization of a dude with short hair, jeans and a t-shirt that looks like he might have a day job. We draw people that are obviously not involved in the heavy music community, at least visually, a bit more normal looking people… I don’t care who likes the music, if you find something to connect with and I can draw people from all different areas of independent music in general, that’s really cool. I feel blessed to know there’s a wide spectrum of people that listen to what I do.

“It’s great, man, it’s all I do,” he continues. “I don’t have to have a normal job. This is my whole life and I love it, every fucking day of it. It’s fun and I work with great people and make some honest music that some people really seem to be enjoying, and I couldn’t ask for anything else,” adding with a laugh, “I just hope it lasts.”

“Twilight, “8,000 Years”

Adrien Begrand has been writing for PopMatters since 2002, and has been writing his monthly metal column Blood & Thunder since 2005. His writing has also appeared in Metal Edge, Sick Sounds, Metallian, graphic novelist Joel Orff's Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock 'n' Roll, Knoxville Voice, The Kerouac Quarterly,,, and A contributing writer for Decibel, Terrorizer, and Dominion magazines and senior writer for Hellbound, he resides, blogs, and does the Twitter thing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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