Label: Hammerheart Records
Date: May 20th, 2022
Is it nostalgia? Or rather a midlife crisis, that drives so many musicians, well achieved and with well-established careers, to seek out their roots and attempt a return to the sweet innocent times of youth? I mean, it’s not like you’ve got your youthful energy and zeal to rely on. Still, regardless of many failed records that did not capture any of the age old essence, not to mention rejuvenate the band members or their strive towards musical enchantment, the bands still emerge. So called “all-star bands”. I’m really struggling not to use a word play here.
I’ll raise another question here. If you’re still affectionate towards what In The Woods… used to stand for, why did you evolve it in the first place? And here’s another, eons old, why not just keep to the same sound and create a new project for sonic explorations that ensued after “Heart of the Ages”? You could have even called it Nattehimmel and nobody would complain. It would make sense, would it?
But here we are. Twenty five years later, the original In The Woods… sound is back. For the most part, anyway. The initial epic, atmospheric black metal with a contemporary twist. Albeit, there’s a problem now.
First, we’ve all heard it before. Many, many times, since the band was and still is quite influential. Not that they haven’t picked up on a few influences of their own back in the day, to start with. Meantime, we’ve had so many excellent followers of this musical direction that one does need to create something very much out of the ordinary to impress the modern day listener with the attention span of a goldfish.
Which brings me to the second issue with “The Night Sky Beckons”. The Botteri brothers are not the same people who once shook the infant second wave black metal scene with their approach to atmosphere above all else. They’ve grown. Lost the creative force that drove them to the landmark record such as “Heart of the Ages”. Gained experience is a plus but it can only get you so far.
This experience shows up mostly in the arranging department, where Nattehimmel does make these three songs flow evenly throughout. They have a sort of a sixth sense as to how make the tracks go forth, from mellow elegance to aggressive crescendo. Adding doom metal elements into the mix is a sign of modern day influences, where it is apparently necessary to fuse in the melancholy to achieve the atmosphere. I’ll admit it, they do so with all the expertise of the musicians who know their instruments as well as the music they want to create. It comes in very naturally and doesn’t confuse for a second.
Alas, it’s not enough. What’s worse, I don’t think it would’ve been enough if this demo came out in 1997. In that regard, recording “Omnio” instead was a correct choice. Of course, “Omnio” has become a classic and as far as I’m concerned, In The Woods… should have stuck with it. Well, I’m not sure about the band right now, since I’ve stopped following them somewhere around the time the Nattehimmel brothers stepped off the stage back at the turn of the century. But forcing Nattehimmel is, in my book, not a good idea.
“Key sales & marketing points: Featuring (ex) members from In the Woods, Strange New Dawn, Old Forest and Green Carnation.” Enough said.