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horror album - 100%

ayham qasim, July 6th, 2012

It's been now thirteen years that Nortt drags along his dreadful carcass, a sign for the most superstitious of us, in the abysmal depths of the underground scene. Progenitor of several albums and a few releases of EP's and split records tainted with the most sinister forms of black / doom / ambient; like a bird of ill omen, Nortt has risen again out of his putrid boneyard to haunt our places and spread the 'good' word with his newest (still)born "Galgenfrist" (Danish for "The Gallows' Temptation").

This is a confirmation of the orientation taken by the former "Ligfaerd" ("Funeral March"), it shows the seizing of power of the dark ambient facet and the long cold and gloomy keyboards layers. The black metal contribution has been softened to the benefit of more doom-like structures almost similar to drone music because the sound is so distorted and deathlike. This answers the metal side but this new sound of damnation sticks the knife in deeper: ever-longer ambient passages, more down-pitched guitars and longer spaced drumming, lyrics reduced to their simplest expression and very seldom vocal interventions drowned into a fogbound maelstrom. These vocal interventions represent the ultimate (scarce) bonds the Danish one-man-band may still hold with his black metal origins. Ever more extreme, Nortt is now sounding closer to Until Death Overtakes Me in style, while, in substance, paradoxically standing for the exact opposite: the latter seems to touch the stratosphere while the former seems to struggle to dig its hole deeper and deeper. All notions of aesthetics, beauty and sophistication are reduced to ashes. Only the dirt, the rot, the decomposition, the stench and the solitude remain. The solitude of a death that came unannounced without a helping hand to hold on through while living your last moments. Even the piano tracks of "Af Døde" and "Havet Hinsides Havet" will no longer warm your bones in this smothered and persistent atmosphere reminiscent of a damp burial vault where subzero temperatures desperately reign.
A release with a hard-line policy, pure madness made of seven tracks erected to celebrate the disgust of everything stricken by life, seven uninterrupted tracks that give the listener the impression of standing in front of monolith as compact and unmovable as it is threatening and full of nefarious vibrations.

In forty-seven minutes, Nortt accomplishes his work of despair, Nortt has finally and totally withdrawn from humankind. He will never walk the same tracks again and now follows the path where dwell his kinsmen of the Kingdom of the Dead as the artwork even seems to suggest. Will you dare follow his steps?

Unlistenable - 35%

MorbidAtheist, July 30th, 2008

Before I begin this review I have one thing to say: I fucking love Nortt. He brought me into funeral doom and I love it. I love Gudsforladt, Graven and Ligfaerd but this...this is un-fucking-listenable. The more electronic/ambient sound and the very fuzzy guitar sound made this album horrendous to listen too. With that ranting out of the way on to the review.

Nortt is a funeral doom band with black metal minimalism, atmosphere, production and vocals. He excels at this style very well and on past albums showed how just a few sparsely played piano keys could create so much sadness and depression. I loved the feedback laden guitar and the overall sound of the past records but he decided to change that and rendered this album shit. Merits this album has though are the lyrics and artwork (Nortt has incredible artwork which helps set the tone of the albums; except for this one) and ambient passages. My biggest problem is the production of the guitar. It is so goddamn fuzzy and muddy that I cringe when I hear it. And cringing for an hour straight sucks. I admire that he is trying something new but this is nothing compared to the amount of abysmal, depressive feelings Nortt created on past albums. Come on Nortt, Go back to the old guitar sound.

If you are wanting to check out Nortt do yourself a favor and go for Gudsforladt.

We await the execution! - 50%

oneyoudontknow, April 30th, 2008

Galgenfrist … nomen est omen? Is there some kind of deeper meaning behind this phrase? Does it contain a foreshadowing of the progression of the band and how their music will evolve on future releases? Will the time run up for the metal elements which can still be found in Nortt’s music, but more scarcely and with a less impact than on earlier releases? Will this facet of the oeuvre be lead to its scaffold where it will meet its final destination as its time has run up? Galgenfrist … it is a rather vague term and it can be interpreted in a positive as well as in a negative way; salvation from the persecution might still be possible as the moment of the execution has not arrived, yet or it might deal with the inward tuning of the executed in the time before this person’s light will vanish forever. Furthermore leaves it room for a different kind interpretation: the split-up of this band… its time has come… not yet but soon.

One difference to the two preceding full-length albums can be examined by looking at the track-list: unlike Ligfærd and Gudsforladt, the first track has no connection to an earlier release; Graven opened Gudsforladt; Gudsforladt opened Ligfærd. The title track (!) opens this album and therefore it is necessary to emphasize this as on other albums a different approach had been taken.

Beside this small and perhaps to neglect facet, the path Nortt has taken since the Gudsforladt album certainly needs some further discussion and leaves room for an interpretation on how the band might sound in the future. Less dominant are the guitars and their impact on the art of Nortt has been reduced to the level of slow and hardly a riff-structure creating play. There lies some resemblance in their arrangement to eruptions (of emotions) and this is not far way from how the vocals are performed. Both elements have been watered down to an even lower level, while ambient sounds have taken over the vacant room. Again are hardly any phrases distinguishable in the dark croaking like style Nortt performs and their total share on the music has even more decreased. Ligfærd was the first step in the attempt to this minimalist style of … funeral doom and Galgenfrist takes it even further.

Ambient and metal are closely woven together on this release and in the background there is always some kind of droning and minimalist texture. It varies in intensity and also in style, but it is always there and it is an attempt to overcome the limiting boundaries which the band had set to themselves and to give the music more depths respectively power. Would this ‘background noise’ be taken away from Nortt, the compositions would not even be worth to be reviewed. It is an element which the band desperately needs in order to create an atmosphere. Yet its quality has decreased since the Ligfærd album as the overall complexity has been further reduced. Had there been further noise elements in the music of Nortt on the second full-length, then on Galgenfrist they have been vanished; the only exception is a short appearance of a church bell; the same that was also used Tilforn Tid.

Two elements differ with their sound from the dominating dark and depressing atmosphere: the snare-drum and the keyboards. The former has a cold, but clearly recognizable sound and each beat is like the beat of a hammer on an anvil; and with each beat the watch hand moves on further until finally the end of the Galgenfrist is reached. Somehow the snare is a welcome distraction of the dasrk atmosphere and they receive much attention due to their mix in the foreground. The latter of the two contrasting elements has a different impact on the music than the drums. Like on the preceding albums, the keyboards are hovering over the grimness which dominates the music and they work as a counter-point towards it. They play is oriented on the ambient/drone texture in the background as the accords are played in a very slow and long lasting fashion. Through them the depressing atmosphere is fostered and increased.

The criticism could be narrowed down to the following: Nortt tries desperately to evolve onto a new level of music and to leave already wandered on pathways behind, but the outcome of this progression leaves the compositions in total blandness. A nice facet here, a good structure there, but all is drowned in a dense fog of ambient, which does not contain the horrors the band tries to create and which John Carpenter once so splendidly did. Still lie the strengths of Nortt in the Funeral Doom parts, but they have not any more the significance that they once had and the minimalist ambient textures and parts cannot compensate the increasing abandonment of the metal elements or their progression towards a non-metal state.

Another aspect deals with the impression that this release is nothing more than mere recycling. This kind of music has already been performed on Ligfærd, but in a better, more consistent and certainly more intensive approach. Nortt offers nothing more except their evolution towards an ambient band with some metal elements. Vanhellig and Tilforn Tid offered on the preceding album an intensive duo and songs of such quality are simply missing on Galgenfrist; in fact the only fascinating song is the first part of Over Mit Lig.

It is very easy to praise this record for its atmosphere, but in comparison to earlier releases of this band the plainness and excessive simplicity, that plays a major role in the song-writing now, should be emphasized in order to put it into the right light. What is left when the metal leaves? Nothing. Three years have passed since Ligfærd and how has the music changed since then? What further has the band to offer on their latest release? The answers to these two questions are shameful. Of the fascination Nortt was once able to create not much is left and the remainder is a desperate attempt to follow a path along a blind alley with the hope to find a way out somewhere still. All songs, with the exception of the intro, outro and the ambient interlude, are interchangeable and have such a striking resemblance in the arrangement of elements and style that the question should be valid what it took the band so long to get this album out? Should this album fascinate me? Should it create in my mind some dark impression and haunt my soul? The two preceding full-lengths were certainly able to do so, but Galgenfrist is pure boredom and it is hardly to recall any specific part of it as all sounds somehow alike. Where to has the quality of this band vanished? It looks like their Galgenfrist has already passed by and is now lost forever.

More epic Blackened Funeral Doom - 100%

Timwie_Malmsteen, April 21st, 2008

Nortt continues his perfect blend of atmospheric funeral doom and depressive black metal. Looking at the cover should give you a good idea of what you are in for. Nortt with his back to the camera, heading into the desolate forest, with a noose in his hand. The opening track is an ambient piece with a low rumble, topped with a humming sound, and low chant like vocals in the background. If I were in the picture in the cover it would be the last sounds that I would want to hear. It sounds like something is creeping up behind you or lurking just off in the distance preparing a plan of attack. From there we are treated with 6 tracks of what Nortt does best. S........l........o........w, plodding funeral doom, with black metal overtones. The guitar has the static fo black metal while the drums sound like they were recorded in a cave, and the bass drum from that new Motley Crue video must have been used. The one that you can't see Tommy Lee behind. They slowly pound you into dust as the gurgling vocals tell you tales of death and lonliness, of course I don't speak what ever langauge it is that they speak in Denmark. Haunting piano melodies keep you intrigued in between the dirge like "riffs" that sound like there is 10 seconds between each chord. If you liked the first two albums you will definitely like this one as well. I think each Nortt release improves from the last one. If anything they just get more interesting, especially in the melodies and harmonies of the piano. If you like Skepticism and Burzum there's no reason you shouldn't like this.