For the United States in 1986, Christa McAuliffe represented the realization of a dream. As the first civilian to ever become part of a NASA shuttle mission, the young teacher from New Hampshire proved that the extraordinary was possible for us all. 73 seconds into launch, though, the nation watched as the space shuttle Challenger broke apart, killing all seven astronauts on board. The American dream dissipated just below the heavens for which the crew aimed. Thought destined for greatness, McAuliffe was immortalized through tragedy, and yet it is her path, rife with bright ambition and inescapable doom, that inspired New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar to record the remarkable, contemplative Settler.
Recorded with Sanford Parker (Indian, Yob), Settler sees Vattnet Viskar at the band’s best and most cohesive. The collective drive to achieve the extraordinary lies not only in Settler’s concept but in its execution. Lead guitarist Chris Alfieri constructs brilliant, soaring riffs that quickly hook and take hold, while drummer Seamus Menihane’s sharp blast beats and blossoming fills keep flight. Nick Thornbury’s brash and fuzzed vocals bring you even higher, and bassist Casey Aylward creates the foundation upon which all the elements can come together and form the album’s definite purpose.
Striking as it may be, Settler’s artwork should look familiar to those acquainted with McAuliffe’s story: a young woman floating in zero-g for the first time, awe radiating from her face reflecting the sunlight that’s filled the cabin. That feeling of optimism is rooted deeply throughout the album, like there are so many wondrous places still worth exploring out there. The album thrives upon the notion that the brave pioneer spirit of astronauts is instilled in all of us, and with song titles like “Colony”, “Yearn”, and “Glory”, and with riffs so bright and so precise, it’s difficult not be reminded of space exploration. Beyond the aesthetics, though, the album is full of that raw human determination, that longing, that leads us to throw caution to the wind in order to achieve, or at least attempt, our greatest hopes and dreams.
Essential Tracks: “Impact”, “Coldwar”