Nortt
Galgenfrist

The more open minded of you that rave about bands like Opeth and Katatonia seriously need to give Galgenfrist a few listens. To most brought up in the western music tradition this is a challenging listen, but one well worth the effort. This is not groundbreaking, after all this idea has been around several hundred years, but genuinely intoxicating in its majestic scope and pacing. The excellent orchestration keeps you involved for the entirety of the album. I guess I need to say that this is black funeral doom.

It was the wolf howls on “Intethedens Mørke” ten years ago that sold me on Nortt. The sound quality has changed release to release, as it should, but the mood has remained constant, as it should. Graven is heavier and darker than Døden…, piano stands out more on Hedengang but there is more guitar fuzz. Gudsforladt is much cleaner and clearer in the high-end sound and the keys are more dominant. Improved versions of many demo songs highlight the sound quality changes. The depth of sound has remained good ever since. Songs have gotten more intricate over the years, especially the jump to Ligfærd, which is more orchestrated and harsher in tone but softer in production quality. The sound is much more organic, feeling like seething life instead of mechanized hate. I thought at the time it was a nice return to the wolf howls, feeling like the ambient touches were recorded out in the natural world. This is all a long winded way of saying Nortt has continually impressed me and each album has impressed me more than its predecessor, so the age old question, can he top that?

Galgenfrist is the latest disc, and the answer is yes he can. I can listen to this all day. Masterful orchestration pared with harsh and guttural vocals used minimally make for a haunting aspect that can be overwhelming. The guitar sound is quite grating and really overwhelms, creating a dense fog that the very slowly moving (yes it does have forward progress) music drags you through. The keyboards add quite a lot of depth and definitely add to the oppressive depth of the songs.

A few years ago another staff writer got a Nortt release to review and asked me how to approach listening to Nortt. I gave him a lengthy discussion on the importance of breaking boundaries of traditional western music compositions with examples from Stravinsky and Debussy and the desire to make music an emotional experience instead of a mathematical equation, going back to the Romantic era. Nortt is definitely in the Romantic tradition. This is a true spiritual journey. This is what lots of pretenders are trying to express. Picking favorite songs completely misses the point. This is beyond song. One of my favorites of the year so far. Advantgarde Music is the perfect home for Nortt.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
August 17th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: hevy blevy

    Totally agree, an awesome record…headphones and totally darkness are the way to go with this one.


  2. Commented by: stiffy

    Nice review, Grimmy.


  3. Commented by: Dimaension X

    This album (along with his earlier albums) prove that ambient music doesn’t have to be “new age”. It can be downright dark and eerie.

    Nortt gets better with time.


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