Vattnet Viskar: Sky Swallower

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Vattnet Viskar: Sky Swallower
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Vattnet Viskar: Sky Swallower
Atmospheric Black Metal, Doom Metal
Century Media Records
September 3rd, 2013
Release length: 38:14
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Vattnet Viskar, translated from Swedish to read “The water is whispering,” has made a lot of ground for themselves since forming in 2010, This Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal group from Plaistow, New Hampshire issued their first demo in 2011, followed by their 2012 self-titled EP, which was met with enough praise to attract the attention of the folks at Century Media Records. A little more than a year later, and their first full-length album, Sky Swallower, is upon us. Is this a remarkable audio experience, or does this recording simply not live up to the hype many outlets and sites have the masses believing it has the potential to be?

Sky Swallower is set up as a roughly thirty minute opus with short interludes after some songs to help tie them together loosely, pushing the recording to nearly thirty-eight minutes. For the most part, this concept works very well. “New Alchemy” explodes into venomous Black Metal action shortly after the deeper raspy vocals start things off. The lower bass does add a nice blunt impact around the two minute mark when the atmosphere begins to set in, and when the pace slows down to allow the Doom Metal elements to show, the stranglehold the main verses had give way to catchy riffs and drumming filled with hope to wrap things up. This is the kind of environment the shorter interlude performances typically carry as well, though this time seems to be incorporated into this track with additional vocals, bridging the gap between it and the long-winded hazy chords that introduce “Fog of Apathy.” It is an interesting track though, as it does offer some stronger atmospheric bites amid sudden burst of Black Metal that try to keep that aura in the chords, but end a bit too thin, even clashing with one another towards the end, not really reaching what seems to be the desired outcome. Had the slower breaks not occurred, the final product definitely would be a lot stronger overall and not leave you wanting or expecting more.

But, where “Fog of Apathy” kind of drops the ball, “Mythos” manages to pick it back up. Coming right off the slower, lighter interlude “Ascend,” the track finds some fiery Black Metal riffs laced with pure enthusiasm at work for most of the song. About half way in, things do slow down to a trudging pace that benefits greatly from the bass guitars tuning, and what seem like some additional cleaner chords in the background that find a catchy, consistent and blunt rhythm that seems to drone on a bit before being reduced to guitars that mesh together like the buzzing made by a horde of winged insects, fading into the slightly oriental sounding plucked strings on “As I Stared into the Sky” against guitar feedback that carries on through the entire ninety seconds of its existence. Making it through the additional noise is worth it though, as “Apex” carries a very heavy and ominous presence, especially at the start, making it a fitting conclusion to the album that leaves you with a great deal of closure as well.

The only real gripe to be had with Sky Swallower is the extent of some atmospheric passages “Fog of Apathy” and “Breath of the Almighty” have, and how little they actually do for the tracks. Both really spend a good deal of time on slower guitar work and wide-open backgrounds meant to push a specific environment, but, such as with the latter of the two, it just doesn’t quite fit what the main verses have already established. Due to that, this just seems more like padding for the sake of extending the life of the song, which is terrible considering the band manages superb atmospheres in both the Black Metal and thicker Doom Metal verses quite well, leaving no need to go into those kind of passages other than the aforementioned instrumentals that actually get the job done a lot better than these little breaks in the quality performances can manage.

Vattnet Viskar seem to be attempting more of an artistic approach to their music through the use of bleak, slower Doom Metal inspired breaks mid-song, sometimes more than once, and it just doesn’t pan out all the time. Sky Swallower has some really strong and spiteful Black Metal material, and even some atmospherically stronger Doom Metal performances that mix together incredibly well. It’s honestly a shame the band randomly breaks the flow and energy they manage to create. Whatever the reason, Sky Swallower still has some impressive cuts that will have fans of Black Metal who crave a solid environment of helplessness or hope coming back for more, and even banging their head along when it all comes together flawlessly, making this an album that is still well worth grabbing at some point, especially if this is your niche.

01. New Alchemy – 5:56
02. Fog of Apathy – 6:05
03. Monarch – 1:10
04. Breath of the Almighty – 7:33
05. Ascend – 1:52
06. Mythos – 7:10
07. As I Stared into the Sky – 1:28
08. Apex – 7:01
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Vattnet Viskar
Vattnet Viskar

Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.