Century Media Records
Release Date: 26 June 2015
Review by Thomas Riley Lanyon
Since emerging from Plaistow, New Hampshire, in 2010, Vattnet Viskar have been pushing boundaries and defying the typically strict aesthetics of black metal through their music, album artwork, and lyrical content, creating a sound and vision that is urgent and exciting. Their second full-length album, Settler, is testament to this, and defines what black metal can be in the current age.
Dawnlands bursts forth with a squeal of feedback and a hail of drumfire, taking no time in introducing you to Vattnet Viskar’s effortless combination of the hopeful and the hopeless. Sanguine guitars swell amongst blast beats and wretched growls, culminating in a remarkably memorable outro that showcases the wonderful guitar work of guitarists, Christopher Alfieri and Nicholas Thornbury. Drummer, Seamus Menihane, implements his talents in “Colony”, segueing between rapid punk rock beats, frenetic blasts, and perfectly placed double bass drum kicks with wild ease.
Yearn and Glory, highlight the gritty hoarseness of Nicholas Thornbury’s vocals, which are a thicker, deeper, and ultimately more impassioned than many of the bands peers, giving Vattnett Viskar’s music a genuine sense of urgency. Both tracks also demonstrate the bands penchant for groove; the ending of “Yearn” is a focused, pummelling, aural assault, which serves as one the records biggest moments, while Glory has a midsection that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Deftone’s record.
It isn’t all breakneck speed and fury, however, with tracks like, Heirs and Coldwar, displaying a magnificent sense of dynamic control, ebbing and flowing between turbulent peaks and expansive valleys. Both tracks are mountainous in their execution, with Coldwar being the albums final track and meridian, the place where everything comes together in a grand moment of dizzying euphoria.
There is so much to take away from, Settler, the flawless production from Sanford Parker (Twilight, Yob), who immaculately captures both the ferocity and beauty of Vattnet Viskar’s sound; the artwork, which so boldly goes against the grain of what one normally expects to accompany music of this kind; or the lyrics, which illustrate a socially conscious awareness of the world in which we live. Ultimately, however, it will be the music that remains with you the longest, an adept combination of black metal and post-rock that has resulted in Settler being one of the years most accomplished records.