Painting a sharp, icy portrait of atmospheric black metal, the debut of Nòtt hits on everything I like in the genre: precise and clear production with a vibe that treads a multi-fractal tightrope between DSBM, traditional second wave aggression, and the more post-black leanings of more modern practitioners of the velvet sonic. In fact, you can call Nòtt, getting a physical release courtesy of Ossian Records after a digital release this past January a grittier, more frost-bitten version of what Amiensus has been doing lately, which makes sense when you realize the one-man assault is the product of James Benson, taking time out from his other bands to exorcise some gnarled demons.
Clocking in at 25 minutes and five songs, nothing on Nòtt overstays its welcome, and while not blazing any trails into unknown territories, lays down a ripping taste of modern black metal that serves to shine a light on what makes this music so appealing. “White. Cold. Death” begins with a modern post-metal riff, ringing notes and open chords rolling with toms before the tune suddenly veers into a vicious blast beat and tremolo picked nightmare. But at less than six minutes there’s little time for an idea to stay for very long, so Benson constantly shifts gears, swerving from panic inducing attacks to half time doom cadences, whiplashing back and forth to ensure every minute has something to draw you in just long enough before snapping your neck to another idea.
Melody is extremely important here: the songs aren’t going to hold their structure unless there’s something to hold constant between each section, and thankfully Benson’s time in his other bands (particularly Amiensus, whose first two full lengths are great examples of this) ensures the thread of melody lurks at every turn. “Nothing” opens with a frigid chill that never really relents, even as its middle section changes up the rhythm, the songs remain cold and evil, with lines falling in and out of the mix. “Worthless” takes the mid-paced approach and makes great use of the drumming to keep the track moving. “Sol” heads into lighter, more blackgaze territory but with some screeching, imperiled screams that keep a high alert as the track moves into some dissonant riffing.
Closer “Rosa Mystica” is a more relentless, driving version of “White. Cold. Death” in that it pretty much takes everything Benson is striving for on Nòtt and injects it into one massive blast of a song. On the whole, Nòtt is a great slice of what makes black metal an exciting and constantly evolving genre: by combining so many elements into something that not only works as a great album. but serves as a signpost for what bands should strive for in creating this kind of music.