1349, Necrophagia, Vattnet Viskar, They Die Screaming Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Thu., June 4, 8:30 p.m. 2015

On their two previous releases, New Hampshire black-metal band Vattnet Viskar seemed to capture the harshness and beauty of a frigid, rocky, barely populated mountain forest. But they’ve brought the sprawling wildness of their earliest material under tight control, and on the new Settler, out June 16 on Century Media, they turn their attention to space travel—an atypical subject for black metal, despite its built-in drama, loneliness, and violence. The album and its cover take inspiration from a 1985 photograph of Challenger astronaut Christa McAuliffe during her zero-gravity training. “She looks so alive and glowing,” says guitarist Chris Alfieri. “It’s one of the most conflicted things I’ve ever seen: to be so happy, at the peak of life, only to have it all gone right after.” The music reflects that conflict: the throaty, sinister bass, bright tremolo-picked guitars, and spacious, pistoning drums suggest the gleaming surfaces and implacable momentum of a doomed and beautiful machine, while the aspirational chord progressions, labyrinthine yet briskly concise structures, and nimble, lyrical solos hint at a terrible but exhilarating journey of discovery. Hanging over everything, the bleak, elegiac mood and the furious gusts of vocals seem to say that the transcendence and transformation of this journey will come at an inconceivable cost. In “Impact” guitarist and front man Nick Thornbury sings, “Seven / Three / Eternity / I sleep when I reach the sea,” referring to Challenger’s explosion 73 seconds after launch. “Now I rest upon a pillar of smoke.” The lyrics to “Heirs” leap into the future, giving voice to the fear that colonization of other worlds will amount to little more than the spread of humanity’s untreated sickness beyond earth. “God help us all / We shouldn’t be here,” Thornbury sings. “Let’s not take this ride again / Let’s let it end.” Alfieri puts it another way: “Even though you know that the end of the path is your destruction and the destruction of everything you know,” he says, “you must do it, and you would choose no other way to live.” —Philip Montoro

Price: $20

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