Vattnet Viskar's self-titled 2012 EP blazed through atmospheric, doom-ridden black metal with authority; it had promise for a style that's been mined endlessly in recent years. But after a decade of lesser disciples of the Neurosis and Isis clans applying melodically driven bass lines and sudden crescendos to whatever heaviness befit them, it was fair to feel a touch of trepidation going into Sky Swallower, the debut album from the New Hampshire band. But a track like "Mythos" demonstrates that there's nuance at play here, even as the world falls around it.
"Mythos" blast beats its way into oblivion in no time, but take note of the tremolo-picked melody buried in the background. It never goes away, but at two minutes in, you'll realize it's been there all along. There's a masterful transition here, as if someone snapped and suddenly Peter Murphy took up a bearish growl to front a metallic Bauhaus (as if Bauhaus could be any darker, but that's besides the point). Even when "Mythos" ends with a hypnotic, thudding jam that nods to NeurIsis, there's tribute, but the original melody remains, tying together a song that's both powerful and structurally unpredictable.
Sky Swallower comes out Sept. 3 on Century Media.