Label: Avantgarde Music
Release date: December 27, 2017
Ten years is a long wait with no news from Nortt. But then we had it, a faint blip on their heart monitor when a new album was announced. For me, that was reason for anticipation; I know a damn lot of bands, and can’t really think of any that quite sound like Nortt. Sure, lots of them share aspects of their sound, but there aren’t any real duplicates. Nortt’s sound truly is one of a kind, so I was looking forward to seeing what changes a full decade would bring. “Endeligt” was released at the end of December, right in the dead of winter. Perfect.
The Nortt essentials stay intact. The plodding, funerary drums provide the sordid pace for the lethargic guitars. Piano plays a large role, with its slow keys traversing the soundscape, giving direction to everything else. Nortt’s vocals have always been impressively perfect for his music, and remain so here. The deep, gravelly utterings of the Danish elegies merge naturally with the unique mix of black metal and funeral doom. Occasional ambient pieces serve as haunting bridges between tracks, and where many bands would have them at best preserve the atmosphere the album has produced so far, Nortt’s interludes only serve to enhance it.
However, despite the presence of all past Nortt elements, “Endeligt” is a much subtler, quieter album. There are no earth-shattering, cataclysmic sections, no moments where the ground underneath you suddenly opens up and swallows you. If “Ligfaerd” and “Galgenfrist” were the stomach-dropping moments where you realized that you’re the last one left alive on earth, “Endeligt” is the endless years of lonely wandering afterwards, sifting through the dust of humanity’s ruin and looking for even the slightest point in persisting. Spoiler: there is none.
A recent interview had Nortt describing each track here being written as if it were an outro, and I really can’t think of a better description. The songs have little buildup and feel like an addendum to something that’s already happened. If a song happens to start sounding like it’s building up to something, like “Afdø,” it kinda just… ends. For any other band that might’ve been a complaint, but for Nortt, it works. Depression doesn’t always build up to a single, ruinous moment. Sometimes it just lies there, giving up, abandoning hope and everything else behind, leaving things unfinished and letting time slip through its fingers.
To say that “Endeligt” is bleak is a Hell of an understatement. It’s not the soundtrack to the end of all things, but rather one to the boundless nothing beyond it. Because of its subtlety, it might not seem it at first, but “Endeligt” was worth the wait. It’s an album that must be listened to alone, in the dark. In any other setting you might hear it, and maybe even appreciate it, but you won’t truly get it. It won’t seep under your skin and blow its ageless dust over you in quite the same way.
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