Vattnet Viskar - Settler (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Vattnet Viskar

Settler (2015)

Century Media Records

Two albums in, post-black metal outfit Vattnet Viskar seems to be hitting its stride with Settler. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment to the band’s output thus far, it’s unintentional, but Settler’s merits are such that it considerably eclipses the band’s first full-length, Sky Swallower. Within a metal perspective, at least, the records are like total opposites.

Sky Swallower was defined by space—droning passages of acoustic, plaintive Earth-esque tones in between spastic grinding bursts. It is very much an autumnal record. Settler goes the opposite route, packing in grinding aural assaults bing bang boom. It is high energy all the time and does not let up. Yet this is also Vattnet Viskar’s most anthemic material to date (again, within metal terms here); it’s a feel good summer record dressed in black. Seamus Menihande’s opening drum fill on first track “Dawnlands” announces a new direction right away: it’s thudding and fast and Albini-esque. It goes into metalgaze territory but also delivers a shimmering guitar solo. This could be 2015’s Sunbather, right down to the polarizing album cover [Side note: I love every photo packaged with the album except for the Photoshopped cover. Do not let the cover discourage you, hypothetical person].

Track two, “Colony,” is even faster and more brutal. “Yearn” has a long build-up that I guess doubles as a breather before “Impact” returns to the grind. Settler is a semi-concept album about space exploration. Really this just lets Vattnet Viskar write super duper metal lyrics like “I stood upon the ground with legs of fire / And I leapt into the sky” because space ships are cool and metal is cool.

Like Sky Swallower, Settler is an awfully tightly arranged record. Vattnet Viskar doesn’t waste a note. While each of the eight tracks certainly has breathing room, only album ender “Coldwar” stretches for “Barren Earth”-level grandiosity. This current incarnation of Vattnet Viskar has been together for a little while, and that cohesion has yielded a very focused, very delightful record.