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Vattnet Viskar | ‘Sky Swallower’

A band playing an album in its entirety live isn’t rare these days. It usually happens with albums that are widely agreed on masterpieces, and so why not?

Of course, you have the situations like Maiden playing ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ in full upon its release, which was questionable and puzzling.

But playing an album in full months before its release? And when it’s your first full-length? Now, that’s not very common.

That’s exactly what New Hampshire’s doomed-out black metallers Vattnet Viskar did with ‘Sky Swallower’.

The album was released in September by Century Media, a signing that was quite the coup for the band considering their prior release was an EP released by teeny label Broken Limbs, and in July the band played a number of shows where they would unleash ‘Sky Swallower’ in its entirety.

This particular writer witnessed one such show in Brooklyn in mid-July and for a band playing a headline set of entirely new music, it was utterly captivating as the band soared through towering valleys and guttural peaks.

The music falls under the broad umbrella of post black metal so you have a fair idea of what you are getting but the primal aggression of these songs left behind an indelible mark and ‘Sky Swallower’ suddenly became an altogether enthralling prospect.

Now with the album itself in our mitts, it begs the question of how it will hold up in a personal connection with the listener where they have time to really sink their teeth in, giving it multiple listens, opposed to the adrenaline and public display of a gig.

‘Sky Swallower’ is an album that definitely needs to be consumed in full one listen and at just under 40 minutes, it actually isn’t all that demanding and even given the style, is rather accessible, if just sticking to the beaten path.

The truth is that it’s a decent post-BM record but not one that’s going to break any new ground; it’s a realisation that sets in once you’ve lived with the album a number of times over several days.

It’s still ambitious and the band clearly has the bit between their teeth but the glossy production seems to have sapped some of the energy and vigour from the band’s live persona. It makes for some interesting comparisons but judging the album entirely on its own, it still has resolute moments like the balance between black metal blasts and glistening post rock melodies on ‘Mythos’ or the broodier climes on ‘Breath of the Almighty’, all the while the brief minute or so mellowed interludes give the album some more dynamic.

‘Sky Swallower’ is a decent debut full-length and should the qualities of Altar of Plagues’ ‘White Tomb’, Wolves in the Throne Room or even the pine scented BM of the likes of Fen or Winterfylleth be your thing then this album is certainly worth a go but if you’re looking for something convincing to convert you to the team you were previously sceptical of, you may need to find something else.

3.2/5 – Jonathan Keane ::: 10/10/13

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