Black metal in this day and age largely is unrecognizable from its roots, which is actually a good thing since there’s so much variety in this form. Not that all bands today sound completely alien to what was going on three decades ago, but times have changed, influences have blossomed, and the boundaries stretched permanently. Chaos finally has been achieved.
Relatively new black metal force Nattehimmel reach way back into the past for their inspiration, but there certainly is plenty in their formula to prove they’ve picked up a lot of colors along the way. The members of this band are not new to metal or the subgenre as brothers Christian “X.” Botteri (guitars) and Christopher “C.M.” Botteri (bass) helped form the legendary In the Woods… together, and vocalist/keyboard player James “Mr. Fog” Fogarty fronted that band from 2015-2021. Drummer Sven Rothe played with the brothers in Strange New Dawn, and all of the members bring their shared experiences to this blossoming project. Their debut album “Mourningstar” is here, and it’s nine tracks and 45 minutes of classic black metal filtered through the cosmos and adding modern touches that complete the sound. It makes for an exciting, promising first record from these tried-and-true veterans.
“Mourningstar (Intro)” begins in a strange aura, guitars gently strummed, voices echoing as we rocket into “Astrologer” that’s majestic and powerful. Clean calls and shrieks encircle (and anyone who has heard Fogarty’s work with In the Woods… knows his power), and the playing stomps and causes blood to spill. “I sail into the skies above,” Fogarty calls as immersive keys flood, and the storm heads into the stars. “Each Man a Constellation” brings bellowing singing that trades off with grim screams, infernal majesty spreading its wings and gaining momentum. The playing splatters as the keys glaze, a cloudy haze beckoning, and then the track reopens, pouring down and then exiting into the clouds. “Armies of Tiamat” drops guitars that buzz saw and swelling singing, making for an imaginative journey that eventually runs into congestion. The guitar phrasing feels inspired by Maiden, “woah-oh” calls make your adrenaline spike, and shrieks rain down and leave the ground flattened.
“Slay the Shepherd” opens in glistening keys before the atmosphere thickens, the clouds bursting open and soaking the ground. Shrieks maim as a tornadic pace takes over and leads to a speedy adventure that jolts and then fades. “Mountain of the Northern Kings” unfurls a synth blanket and sinister guitars, the driving pace taking on a folkish flavor. The playing trudges, and the keys bleeding in gives this an Amorphis feel, turning hypnotic and heavy, the track icing over your brain. “Realm of Hades” is dark and foreboding, the singing and shrieks teaming to make a united front, the coldness making your nerve endings tingle. A giant gust pushes the ground beneath you, soulful singing gets into your chest, and the melodic storm breaks your will. “Tales of the Immortals” bludgeons amid a synth streak, the singing making a push to spike your emotions. The leads take off as shrieks welt flesh, guitars flood, and the tidal wave of fury takes you under. Closer “The Night Sky Beckons” opens in high drama, which is only fitting, and darker guitars thicken shadows before the melodies break out of that. Guitars spiral through the air, a gothy gush blackens your blood, and the power explodes and zaps to a finish.
Nattehimmel’s debut “Mourningstar” surely will be right up the alley for anyone still pining for In the Woods… of old or just anyone who wants to bask in dreamy yet blasting black metal. Each step of this record is exciting, and after 45 minutes, you’re full of stardust, contemplating the journey you just took. It’s pretty enthralling stuff, the work of forces who have lived this stuff and remain brimming with creativity and electricity.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/NattehimmelOfficial
To buy the album, go here: https://hammerheartstore.com/collections/vendors?q=Nattehimmel
For more on the label, go here: https://hammerheartstore.com/