Plaistow, New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar are shaking the foundations of the metal community with their recently released sophomore album entitled “Settler”. Following up to their well-praised debut “Sky Swallower” from 2013, Vattnet Viskar have already established a recognizable blend of post-black metal with several other elements such as shoegaze and sludge. Whereas many bands seem to make a strong debut effort and then fall flat on their face with their follow-up, Vattnet Viskar seems to do the exact opposite with “Settler” for many reasons.
Vattnet Viskar was a name I never had even heard of until recently. My first time hearing the name was on the flier of their recent tour with 1349 and Necrophagia. I stumbled across a video of the second song on the album “Colony”, checked it out, and I really enjoyed that song. However, I did feel that the production quality was quite unappealing. The song felt severely compressed to the point to where it bothered me, and I am rarely bothered by production quality. Production wouldn’t be a problem at all if Vattnet were chasing after the “trve kvlt” lo-fi production sounds of the second wave of black metal that emerged from the 90s in Norway. However, with Vattnet’s sound they were chasing after, production quality was critical in helping them shape a successful album. I realize that YouTube is already notorious for compressing audio and butchering sound quality in some cases so I remained hopeful that the actual mix and master sounded better.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks and I was fortunate enough to catch 1349 and Vattnet Viskar on their last tour date at The Haven in Orlando, Fl (who both put on phenomenal shows). Of course I grabbed a copy of “Settler” on my way out and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. A major reason “Settler” sticks out to me so much is Vattnet is daring to be a band that ventures into uncharted territory. This is so much more of a big deal considering a heavy part of their sound is black metal – which is infamous for having a fan-base that wants the entire scene to stick to lo-fi production, tremolo picking, and rasping crepuscular lyrics about Satan and Anti-Christianity. Anybody who even has a remote idea of what black metal is about can not listen to a single note on this album and just tell by the cover artwork that Vattnet are here to push the boundaries of extreme music. Frankly, the cover reminds me of Deafheaven’s “Sunbather”.
In addition to the cover, there is so much in the record itself that helps this album stand out and be an incredible release for 2015. It contains everything a black metal album should but certainly doesn’t stop at: tremolo-picking, blast-beats, shrieking vocals, etc. “Settler” reeks of an alluring and exquisite atmosphere that practically takes the listener captive in a whole new dimension of soaring melodies and compelling emotion. The guitar work bounces all around functioning for many aspects whether it be for speed and aggression to emotion and atmosphere. The bass work is perfected for what a bass is supposed to do. Vattnet Viskar’s drummer fascinates with me how he can transition with pummeling blast-beats to a catchy groove with a flashy fill all in the blink of an eye. The superb vocal performance fits in quite nicely throughout and seems to act on par with the instruments to create an overall sound rather than instrumentation as background noise and the vocals blaring on top. I’d also like to note the production turned out to be perfectly fine. I’m not quite sure if my ears just became accustomed to the production or if the YouTube video I watched was just that compressed but nevertheless, I’m glad the production value does not hold back the album’s potential.
“Settler” clocks in at around thirty-nine minutes with eight tracks. Each song stands out from one another and I wouldn’t consider a single track as “filler”. From the swift paced introduction of “Dawnlands” to the captivating solo in “Coldwar”, I wasn’t bored for one second. Some of my favorite moments on the album were the utter emotion exhibited towards the end of both “Colony” and “Heirs”. With such a full range of dynamics, I think that Vattnet Viskar actually made an album rather than just a compilation of similar sounding songs which isn’t the easiest thing to come across these days. Especially with a band this short into their career.
Overall, Vattnet Viskar have blown me away with their sophomore album “Settler”. It is an absolutely breath-taking album that I can’t seem to stop listening to, and I probably won’t anytime soon. With not many huge albums coming out so far this year for metal in my opinion, this has to be one of my favorite releases by far of 2015. I am positive it will be in my top ten by the end of the year. Vattnet Viskar have definitely won me over as a fan, and I bet this album will do the same for many others. Make sure to keep an eye on this band. They are going places. Check out the links below to listen and purchase the album.
Listen to the title track here:
You can purchase “Settler” right here.