Vattnet Viskar – Sky Swallower
Release Date: Sep 3, 2013 (N.A.) Sep 9 (EU)
Vattnet Viskar is a four-piece black metal band of the atmospheric nature that hails from Plaistow, NH. They are releasing their beast of a debut album, Sky Swallower, to the masses and are determined to be a part of the next wave of American black metal. Although I haven’t heard of this band until recently, I’m assured by a few friends that this quartet is definitely one to watch out for.
I’ve recently immersed myself in black metal, including the atmospheric enclave of the sub-genre which happens to be one of my favorites so far. When I read that Vattnet Viskar played this style of music, my interest was instantly piqued and after several listens, I can say that this is one of the best debuts I have heard this year.
“New Alchemy” kicks things off the powerful, pained vocals leading the charge over the exquisitely destructive black metal guitar riffs that become pretty dominant throughout. All I can think about with this track is how beautiful everything sounds. That is one of the hidden gems about black metal– finding that core within every instrument and bringing it out its fullest emotion. Although not technical or even the best on the ears (although this record is showing some great production unlike other similar releases), I can’t help but feel something other worldly about atmospheric black metal. Vattnet Viskar execute this to near perfection.
“Fog of Apathy” changes pace, feeding off of some of the quieter moments of “New Alchemy” that occurred in the last half and takes it to the next level in an unexpected way. As the guitar strums slowly waning in and out, I couldn’t help but feel a void opening in my mind. The power behind that simple introduction just automatically pulls you right in. Although there is an intense moment soon after that, it is suddenly gone and there is another calm, serene, and gorgeous section of ambience. Intensity keys in again and begins to advance the song further, bringing in more of that atmospheric and embracing element. You can’t help but get lost in the music this band makes.
“Monarch” can be considered a transitional piece, clocking in at just a bit over a minute. Taking note of “Fog of Apathy”, this little number decides to combine elements used so far to build a bridge to “Breath of the Almighty”. The title alone can solely describe the intensity and “epicness” this seven-and-a-half minutes contains. This energy soon falls, where the music cascades into another void-like state, as if the subject of the song is stumbling over itself into a state of disrepair. The contrasts within each of these puzzle pieces brings a breath of fresh air to the ears, although I would hope they have a more consistent track somewhere later on in the album.
“Ascend” is what I would call another transitional piece that differentiates itself from the previous, unlike the earlier, shorter track. My earlier wish is fulfilled as this comes to be one of the more consistent tunes, although too short for my liking.
Sky Swallower has completely taken me by surprise. The composition, energy, emotion, and musicianship simply enthralls from beginning to end, even with a few “bumps” in the road. Nick Thornbury accomplishes the darker, sinister vocals with ease, putting in a great half to the full experience you’ll find as each moment passes. The other half consists of the guitar work by both Nick and Chris Alfieri, both who are able to create devastatingly dark riffs to uplifting, rhythmic progressions that could calm the fiercest storm imaginable. Vattnet Viskar would be black metal without the raw and concussive backbone provided by drummer Seamus Menihane. Seamus sews everything together in such a way that the full on wave power and atmosphere is unavoidable. Joey Perron plays the perfect rhythmic counterpart on bass.
Overall, Sky Swallower is a must for those that eat, drink, and sleep atmospheric black metal. New metal listeners may not be able to fully grasp the idea and emotion behind this record, but I think that they should still give it a chance. The production is perfect for the style of music, as a lot of black metal bands tend to go for a more raw sound that drives even more listeners away. This characteristic alone really helps these guys out. Finally, the record can seem a bit straightforward, but there are many moments that can be overlooked that bring out a lot of the beauty and elegance that this sub-genre offers. Check this release out and find out for yourself.
Rating – 8.9/10