Jul 052023

(What we have here is Todd Manning‘s review of Hiraeth, the new album by the duo Nott that’s set for release on August 18th by Silent Pendulum Records.)

It’s probably not helpful to call an album ‘heavy’ on a website such as No Clean Singing, but what I want to get across is that the new release by Nott, Hiraeth, is immensely, cosmically, insanely heavy. This duo, consisting of Julia Geaman on drums and Tyler Campbell on guitar, bass, and vocals, now hail from the Pacific Northwest and play a brand of death-doom that will surely cause California to fall into the ocean.

Starting with the opener “Torn”, Nott unleashes riffs that sound like a boulder being dropped off a skyscraper. They deal in a similar vein of apocalyptic atmosphere as Ulcerate but there exists an additional dimension of darkness here that sets them apart. When the occasional blast beat surfaces, there’s a darkness not unlike early Immolation.

photo by Cole Paramore

The suffocating heaviness could become monotonous in less capable hands, but Nott prove to be skilled songwriters. The duo allow their riffs to breathe, such as on “Rend”, where the guitar on the opening riff leaves space for a pounding floor tom to give the section its character. The following track, “Stare”, illustrates their use of space even more effectively. The music employs short pauses, like a sharp inhale, to add dynamics to the otherwise claustrophobic sound. Halfway through, a longer pause heralds the entrance of a truly devastating doom riff.

“Writhe” employs a quiet, sparse opening riff that invokes wandering across an irradiated desert. The slow crawl is interrupted by a few measures of crashing guitars and demon-invoking vocals only to return to the crawling vibe again. Eventually, the heaviness returns and then retreats again. Finally, the volume returns one last time, but with more active drumming, bringing to mind the mighty Neurosis.

The title track closes the album, finding Nott at their most savage. The blast beats come and actually hang around longer. They seem to walk a line here between Deathspell Omega and Ulcerate and it’s hard to argue this is a bad thing. The tempo does eventually wind down, first with a quieter, post-apocalyptic section and then followed by one more round of devastating sludge-doom.

Credit must be given to Campbell, who recorded the guitars, bass, and vocals at his home studio, and to Matt Roach who recorded the drums at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver. The production on Hiraeth is epic and truly does justice to Nott’s sound.

Hiraeth is a staggering record, full of end-time imagery and angst. Each drum hit and guitar chord feels like an explosion, while the moments of quiet feel like gasping for breath beneath a pile of rubble. If this is the sound of the end of the world, then things are surely ending with a bang, not a whimper.


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