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Transcendental Black Metal... No, Really. - 98%

HeySharpshooter, March 24th, 2012

Massive and deep, filled with layer upon layer of compositional complexity and a true sense of what makes black metal, Vattnet Viskar's first EP possesses the kind of sound that can change the entire direction of a genre. Perhaps not black metal as a whole... it's just a three song EP from a relatively unknown band that hasn't even past the "free shit on Bandcamp" phase. No, Vattnet Viskar is probably not headed for the same level of glory as Hvis Lyset tar Oss or Storm of the Light's Bane. But this little EP packs enough punch to change the rapidly growing yet still awkward atmospheric black metal movement growing in the United States: Cascadian black metal to some, blackgaze to others (and to more than a few cloak-and-chalice black metal fans, hipster trash). The reason being fairly simple, and easily detectable upon a single listen: that unlike many of the artists within the genre who battle with the concept of "black metal" as an artform and a genre, Vattnet Viskar (whose name means "the water whispers" in Swedish) have actually mastered the black metal part of the equation. Unlike Liturgy, whose rampant and free form experimentation destroys any actual black metal elements beyond shrieked vocals and dissonance, or Altar of Plagues, who flat out just don't have any black metal in their sound, Vattnet Viskar's sound is firmly entrenched in black metal.

The hypnotic repetition of Burzum and the dissonant creepings of Deathspell Omega are at the very heart of Vattnet Viskar. These elements are the center, the arches of support for moments of brilliant, intense experimentation with Neurosis-esque sludge and shoegaze that litter this twenty seven minute EP. Rather then trying to forcefully mix these disparate parts into contorted, over-stuffed epics of formless dissonance and enormous "wall-of-sound' production, everything on Vattnet Viskar is finely crafted to create different atmospheres at the appropriate moments. The black metal moments sound like black metal, and that is something so few bands within this sub-genre seem to accomplish despite the association. The opening bells and whispering chants of "Weakness," followed by the first salvo of blistering and grim orthodox black metal, flows naturally into the later sections of the song, where repetitious and hypnotic sludge riffs meld seamlessly with distant, heart wrenching sound-waves. Listening to the last few minutes of "Intention/Oblivion" is like bathing in sonic waves of your own vulnerability: the composition is so massive, so sincere, it cuts right to the heart of you. There are no vocals for several minutes, but the intended mood is quite clear: it swallowed me up like a vortex.

There just are not that many albums out there that literally suck me in, but Vattnet Viskar has a Black Hole like effect on me. The riffs are such a perfectly blended mix of dissonance, harmony and melody, the drums are adventurous and skillful (the drumming during the first three minutes of "Barren Earth" is mindblowing), the low end plays it's proper role, occasionally bursting with sheer volume to strengthen an already powerful vortex of sound. The vocals, while primarily monotone, are incredibly powerful: they practically ignite the air around them with rage and horror. Vattnet Viskar may not be purely original in the modern black metal scene, but it is incredibly hefty (thanks mostly to the perfect production, clear but raw) and intense. Real emotion comes pouring from every note, and the sincerity of the music makes it feel almost transcendental.

Yes, transcendental. The famous phrase uttered by American black metal's Clown Prince (or Troll King) has finally been realized. That it comes from a small time band from New Hampshire may come as a surprised, but the dream of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has come to fruition. Vattnet Viskar feels like a step forward for black metal as a genre while at the same time ascending beyond it's already broad constraints. So many acts have tried to reach this plane, are still trying to reach this level of perfect, harmonious intensity: a true synthesis of black metal and more progressive elements. Yet so far, in my personal experience, only this unknown four-piece have reached it.

And thus, the essence of black metal, and what it represents, is renewed once again.

Rating: 10/10

originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/