Review Summary: A must listen for those interested in the frontier of USBM.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Vattnet Viskar’s self-titled debut is a perfect use of the EP format. These three tracks each outdo the previous in scope and intensity, rendering an experience akin to that of a full-length outing without any frills. How the band will flesh out their sound across a full running time has yet to be seen, but on this release it works extremely well. Vattnet Viskar advertises their style of playing as ‘ambient blackened doom’, which is definitely one way to describe it. What it doesn’t include is what a lot of people will see coming: this New Hampshire based (USBM) band is influenced by Cascadian / post-Black metal styles. What Vattnet Viskar does on this EP, though, is take those influences by the horns and steer them in a new direction.
The context for doom elements in this style of black metal are all over Wolves in the Throne Room
’s debut LP, Diadem of 12 Stars. However, this album is beyond just elements of doom, it is woven into the fabric of the entire outing. By the accounts of the band, drummer Matt St-John is their only ‘trained’ musician. The band takes advantage by letting the drums do a lot of powerful work here. Even when the music loses the distortion in favor of acoustic strumming it is always waiting to erupt (and not just with a blast beat!), always moving. Perhaps that is counterintuitive to doom, but it’s the same effect that Jamie Saint-Merat has in Ulcerate
. St-John is paddling upstream in a sludgy creek with all his might throughout the album, and that is a big reason the music is so climactic.
In terms of the rest of the band’s sound, the vocals are put up front in the mix and add a raw, roaring power (coincidentally, they can be best described as roars, rather than wails or shrieks). The guitars and bass play a wall of sound behind them, but the relatively clean production allows all the elements to be audible (both the vocals and production have more in common with Altar of Plagues
than Ash Borer
). If you’re waiting for a clean reverb-laden guitar buildup, you will actually find one in the latter half of ‘Intention Oblivion’, but what you won’t find is anything pretty. Instead, this album is a dark, driving affair.
Now that the band is signed to metal behemoth Century Media, big things could be in their near future. Vattnet Viskar’s eponymous debut gives the ever-expanding black metal hydra one more ugly head to rear, and is a must-listen for those looking for the 2012 frontier of USBM.