Nortt is an undeniable innovator and idealist extremist. His passionate yearning for death, his blood-curdling vocal gargles, and his buzzing swathes of guitar have never been so ‘pretty’ a collision as they are on his fourth album ‘Endeligt’. In 1999 as his ‘Graven’ demo took off and garnered him major attention he pioneered a mixture of funeral doom and depressive black metal. This was in the relative height of “depressive suicidal black metal” a trend that soon spiraled into embarrassingly trite ridicule and gave way to blackgaze and paved the way for an insurgence of atmospheric black metal’s popularity. Reclusive Danish gentleman Nortt wasn’t responsible, or really involved in those movements but he certainly benefited from being categorized alongside them leading up to marketing himself as “Pure Depressive Black Funeral Doom Metal.” After a full decade hiatus it would seem virtually nothing has changed since 1997 beyond increasingly lovely piano stroking.
For those who fear funeral doom but have great interest in black metal, you might already know Nortt by name or reputation. What scares most away from funeral doom doesn’t apply with Nortt and from the beginning he has kept his records under an hour long; most Nortt releases are around 45 minutes. So, with an uncanny ability to cut the fat and still remain slow and atmospheric his music still remains highly digestible and minimalist all the same. In fact ‘Endeligt’ is minimal in the sense that it resembles the fainter gloom of ‘Graven’ and ‘Galgenfrist’ more than the keyboard-synth and droning guitars of ‘Gudsforladt’. Of course this means that nuclear-digitized guitar distortion of ‘Ligfærd’ is nowhere to be found unfortunately. For my taste ‘Ligfærd’ was that outsider art moment for Nortt where he defied the cleaner, warmer production for stark and real funeral doom influence though its not a requirement for my enjoyment.
If you come into ‘Endeligt’ expecting all of the bells and whistles, the drone/ambient excess, and bigger production understand that you’ll be disappointed. Nortt was simply gone for a decade and for all intensive purposes this album does not reflect grand musical growth or divergence. If anything this is as pure as Nortt sounded in 1997 when he started releasing records and is less compositionally dense than ever. What I personally found in this album was frequent genuine emotional resonance that had escaped his previous two releases. There is an almost post-rock subtlety to tracks like “Fra hæld til intet” where the piano-driven core of the song immediately evokes dissociation. This sonic dysrhythmia is expertly crafted towards the center of the playlist and it would be easy to miss if you make the mistake of impatience.
What Nortt reveals from track 4 to 8 is his new sound, and it was absolutely worth waiting a decade for. The cold-dead center of ‘Endelight’ evokes Thergothon stripped down to their most basic gothic doom elements and massaged with blackened ambiance and subtle-layered guitars beneath the mix of drums and droning keyboards. With only half of the album non-ambient, that ambiance does a lot of the work and most certainly will polarize this release for a lot of fans. I don’t think that “Støv for vinden” needed to be followed by a five minute ambient title track and it really kills the impact of “Støv for vinden” as a powerful closer for the record. Otherwise I think this is perhaps the best and most realized release from Nortt since 1999 and a perfect re-introduction to his music after a long, dead decade of silence.
|Released||December 29, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Nortt Official Website|
Still not dead. 4.0/5.0
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