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Natt - Natt review


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Band: Natt
Album: Natt
Release date: January 2023

01. Skillevei
02. Appell
03. Etterslått

As much as I hold a dear place in my heart for post-rock and particularly post-metal, as time goes on, it gets harder to find the words to describe new generic-sounding instrumental post-rock/metal albums with any degree of enthusiasm, which I’ve alluded to before in my contributions to the non-metal series. Therefore, it’s going to take something quite impressive to get me raving about a new instru-post debut: cue Natt.

Natt is a new Norwegian project with two main songwriters, René Misje (Kraków) and Roy Ole Førland (Lindy-Fay Hella, Malignant Eternal), with Iver Sandøy (Enslaved, Skuggsjá) and Lord Bård rounding out the instrumental line-up. Of the various projects its members have been involved with, Natt is perhaps closest to Kraków, but I’m not sure any of those bands are suitable comparisons, mainly because Natt sounds very much like its own thing. I intimated in the opening paragraph that this was an instrumental post-metal/rock album, but that is quite a reductive way of looking at it; there’s a progressive current through it, but more notably there’s clearly some psychedelic rock and krautrock influences on the album here, not unlike a band such as Yoo Doo Right, but heavier, plus some ambient/drone elements. The end result is pretty fascinating.

There are three tracks on this album, each of which is lengthy; the two ‘shorter’ songs, “Skillevei” and “Appell”, clock in at a bitesize 12 and 11 minutes, respectively. Those lengthy runtimes are used to explore far and wide on each track, with “Skillevei” particularly adventurous. An unhurried tempo and spacious musical backdrop in its early minutes is contrasted with a lengthy and lively guitar solo, but while the music here is somewhat languid, the synths and chord choices create a slight air of unease. The first third of this track is almost entirely dedicated to this initial approach, but around the 4-minute mark, the song picks up the pace a bit and turns into more of a mellow psychedelic jam; dynamically, the contrasts between this calmer middle section and the voluminous final minutes is consistent with post-metal, but the actual contents feel somewhat closer to a psych-rock reinterpretation of Earth’s The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull.

“Appell” is more conventionally in the post-rock mould, ebbing and flowing dynamically (mainly flowing), but with bright, shimmering keyboards radiating around the central guitar riffs and grooves. The impressive thing about “Appell” is how it seemingly continues to intensify with each passing minute; whenever I listen to it, there’s a point 5 or so minutes in where it feels like it’s near the limit of its intensification, only to check the runtime and realize it’s only halfway through, and to then experience it continuing to get heavier and more muscular. As it transitions from post-rock to post-metal with its increasingly dense and crunching riffs, it also manages to become more spacious with bouncing celestial electronics.

The first half of the album is instrumental post- with panache and twists; the third and final song on the album breaks the mould entirely. “Etterslått” crosses the 20-minute mark, and revels in the extremes of Natt’s dynamic range, as an extended period of ambience evolves (at a similar pace to the actual biological process of evolution) initially into something again quite Earth-ish, sedate drums and a simple-yet-effective piano motif offering momentum to an ethereal yet sinister mix of ambient sounds. There’s then an equally gradual progression into first a more metallic interpretation of this same template, and finally a huge, loud drone metal climax that sounds like the passage of a space explorer into the outer fringes of the universe.

While the two sides of Natt place similar emphases on dynamics and the compelling experience that gradual shifts in volume and density can accomplish, their approaches are entirely distinct from one another. Still, both approaches yield similarly gripping results, and sit naturally alongside one another on what is a subtly enthralling journey of an album. Considering that post-metal and post-rock were, by definition, originated in the aim of evolving beyond genre conventions, it is a shame that more new bands aren’t so ambitious in offering new visions on the genre staples, but it’s a treat when adventurous projects like Natt turn up, particularly when the theory is equalled by the execution.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8

Written on 01.02.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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