Starting over is not the easiest thing in the world, but it does have its benefits. There is freedom in going back to the point of inception because there are no preconceived notions of what is to come. Even if people remember what came before, that was the past and this is the future, which stops for no one. When Vattnet, previously known to us as the post-black metal band Vattnet Viskar, lost one of their two founding members, they saw an opportunity to go back to the beginning and build from the ground up. Cleaving their band name in half, they looked toward the future and decided to make a self-titled album album that, in the words of guitarist Chris Alfieri, “we could listen to forever, even if no one else liked it.”
That quote begs the question, “Does this album have something for us, the listener, to enjoy?” The answer in this case is an exuberant, “Yes, it has more than enough for us to enjoy.” It carries the sounds of a band that was tired of being lumped into a particular scene or category, so it is filled with a wide variety of musical styles and sounds that lean towards progressive metal. These styles and sounds are held together in place by a melancholic glue, mostly delivered through lyrics about losing loved ones, hatred and all the miseries life can bring forth. Though there are these themes of doom and gloom, sometimes they’re carried by music that lifts you. If this record has any sort of theme, it is one that seeks to represent life as the complex beast that it is, complete with those moments that lift us as well as those that crush us.
The opening track “Spun” is on the downside of things, discussing life spinning out of control over guitars and drums that seek to guide the track to an intense explosion of emotion. Though these are sounds and techniques the band has known and executed well before, their new home makes them feel fresh once again. The second song and first single from the album, “Dark Black” is like a Deftones track that Vattnet took to the next level. This song is drenched in buckets of atmosphere, using echoing clean guitars to prepare for the onslaught of heavy riffs and drum hits that signal the chorus, telling the listener to “Waste your life any way you like.” The third track, “Sugar” is an aptly named, ever ascending upbeat track that takes a page from Astronoid‘s book. This is likely aided by the fact that the bassist for Vattnet is one of Astronoid’s guitarists. This song even has tinges of emo and earns the band their newly self-ascribed “pop metal” tag. The songs go on in this fashion, varying in style from track to track, but never failing to be engaging and cohesive on a thematic level. Before wrapping up, however, this review would not feel right if the last track “Funeral” was not discussed. It’s a perfect closer and one that tugs at the heartstrings because it feels and sounds like it comes from a very genuine place. The lyrics in combination with the note choices for the vocals have a particularly powerful effect, which is further exacerbated by the guitars, drums and bass. It’s worth listening to the album in full to arrive organically at this heart wrenching conclusion.
Instead of calling it quits, Vattnet saw opportunity in rebirth. As the old saying goes, “When a door closes, another opens.” Without fear, the band walked through their newly opened door and saw a world that they could inhabit freely and create in without constraint. Though starting over is not the easiest thing in the world, Vattnet made the most of it by giving life to the music that they wanted to hear, even if nobody else cared for it. Combining this mentality with the high-quality music present on this album poises Vattnet to not only take over their own world, but ours as well.
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Vattnet is out now on New Damage Records and can be purchased digitally here and physically here