Vattnet Viskar – “Fog Of Apathy” (Stereogum Premiere)

New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar were the only metal act to make our list of 2012’s Best New Bands, a spot awarded to them based on the combined strength of their 3-song debut EP, released via micro-indie Broken Limbs Recordings, and their live show. Both these presentations were startlingly powerful and assured, belying the band’s relative youth. Both also, though, suggested tremendous untapped upside. We weren’t the only ones who noticed: Metal powerhouse Century Media (home to heavyweights like Deicide, Napalm Death, Watain, etc.) signed Vattnet Viskar last May. It was an unexpected development, but a welcome (and wise) one: Vattnet Viskar were seemingly born with fully formed big-league tools, yet their nuanced and bold approach to heavy music made them feel like a band ready to blaze trails, kick down doors. They entered the studio this past April to record their first full-length album, Sky Swallower, which is currently set for release in September.

I got an advance of the album in late May, and it pretty quickly made its way into my honorable mentions for 2013’s Best Albums So Far. I’ve been listening to it regularly since then, and it has only grown in my estimation. Vattnet Viskar are nominally a black metal band, but that appellation captures only a fraction of their sound’s massive scope. In many ways, they remind me of two great (and similarly undefinable) NYC bands: Krallice and Tombs. Sky Swallower is an album of athletic power and grace. When it is quiet, it is patient, placid, near-still; when it is heavy, it is as breathtaking as a skyscraper demolition. And the band’s use of balance and tension to maximize the effects of those extremes is dazzling; it’s a visceral experience.

I don’t know that any one song presents a fair representation of Sky Swallower because the album really demands to be viewed in landscape, not thumbnail — the highlights are exponentially higher when the songs are presented in context — but we’ve only got one for you today: “Fog Of Apathy,” Sky Swallower’s second track, but the first to make its way onto the web. Don’t be misled by the title — there’s nothing foggy or apathetic about the thing. It’s oceanic. Listen.

Vattnet Viskar tour dates:

07/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Acheron
07/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
07/21 – Florence, MA @ JJ’s Tavern

Sky Swallower is out 9/3 via Century Media.