Nattehimmel revisit woodsy past as they stretch out black metal grasp on ‘The Night Sky Beckons’

I commonly spend time after the sun has gone down staring into the night sky as I have my dog outside for her nightly activities. That goes beyond just looking into the clouds but well beyond into the stars, wondering what’s going on currently on those tiny needlepoints of light and imagining anyone or anything there is looking back. This is the intro for a black metal record in case you’re confused.

For the members of newly formed Nattehimmel, which is Norsk for “night sky,” they’re making that trip not just mentally but musically on their three-track debut demo tape “The Night Sky Beckons.” Those involved with this band are no strangers as the Botteri brothers Christian (guitars) and Christopher (bass), both founding members of legendary In the Woods… and Green Carnation, join with vocalist James Fogarty (also formerly of In the Woods… and Old Forest among countless others) as well as drummer and long-time collaborator Sven Rothe (Strange New Dawn) to plant new seeds into the black metal and pagan metal terrain, hoping to reap a full harvest soon with their upcoming first full-length album. In the meantime, we have this exciting start that definitely has plenty of DNA from their past projects but also soars into new areas and auras that make the future extremely exciting.

“Astrologer” gets off to a spirited start, promising a blast of energy they’re more than willing to deliver. Clean vocals spread and later are consumed by powerful shrieks, the playing trudging and storming before hypnosis takes over. The leads take charge, the playing has a fantastical edge that’s super sticky, and the playing cascades over the final moments, leaving your body heaving. “Mountain of the Northern Kings” enters amid key layers and then a sinister, dramatic push that’s heavy and immersive. Vicious wails punch in as the playing burns hard into a synth cloud, clean guitars give a spacey aura, and then the menace returns and darkens skies, slowly trickling out until everything fades. Closer “Nattehimmel – The Night Sky Beckons” starts with guitars picking up, taking on a forceful black metal spirit, and the drums just erupt, pulling bodies apart violently and without mercy. Guitars rise and glimmer, giving off great energy, the playing spirals and floods, and the track spends its  blistering and last stretch battering and leaving you to wonder what exactly just hit you.

Nattehimmel pay enormous homage to their own roots and paths they’ve blazed in metal and prepare the world for what they have left in them on “The Night Sky Beckons,” their promising debut EP. Everyone here has a resume that’s more than impressive and can match up with just about anyone’s, and this band ripples with promise, warning that this is just the first strike. I’m excited for what Nattehimmel create from this point, and no matter where that is, there will be this crucial first building block sitting in the center of the foundation.

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