Watertank – Destination Unknown

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After ten years of existence, French rockers Watertank released debut album Sleepwalk in 2013 to heavy and deserved acclaim. Like for so many, it took our ears and appetites to hungry heights; in the words of our review the release was “an instigator of the purest temptation.” Now the band unleashes its successor Destination Unknown and lures even lustier responses with its irresistible concoction of sludge, stoner, and various other compelling styles. Taking the essential essences with made the first album so potent; Destination Unknown emerges as a fuller, more gripping proposal of sound and invention which in turn shows that its predecessor was just the appetiser to greater Watertank alchemy.

The Nantes band began in 2013, swiftly forging a strong fan base and reputation for their sound and stage presence with increasing success over the years. A couple of well-received EPs earned strong attention and praise before the release of Sleepwalk, whilst on stage the band proceeded to play with the likes of Torche, Kylesa, Baroness, Capricorns, Lair Of The Minotaur, and The Ocean amongst a great many. The band’s first album certainly sparked new spotlights upon Watertank though not to the level now expected to be aroused by Destination Unknown.

The album opens with Automatic Reset and straight away transfixes ears with its opening mist of guitar; the sonic shimmer quickly followed by a bulging blast of heavy riffs and rhythms. With them a groove also joins the tempting, its lure relaxing as the song settles into its stroll and welcomes the dusty tones of vocalist Thomas Boutet before returning with even spicier toning to its sultry tendril. Just as quickly a contagious air floods the encounter, a persuasion which never loses its potency as the song shuffles up its gait and intensity across the rest of the magnetic offering. The guitars of Rémy Bellin and Bojan Anicic continue to wrap ears and song in resourceful and gripping enterprise, greater colour added to the excellent start to the album all the time.

Straight away it and the following Fever reveal a more rounded and deeper depth to the band’s music, a less raw and caustic sound which still retains the growl and intensive weighty hues which fuelled the previous release. The second song is a far more aggressive offering than the first, punkish in its attitude and energy with wiry hooks to match. The bass of Maxime Coste is a grumbling potency whilst drummer Jocelyn Liorzou lashes skin and senses with adventurous and antagonistic scythes. It is a glorious riot bringing a mix of Torche, eighties band Skyscraper, and a touch of Motorgrator to entice before making way for the gentler smouldering charm of Contrails. It is still a heavyweight proposal though which seems to grow and loom over the senses with every passing second. Once more hooks and grooves grace a dynamic web of imagination and primal temptation, the latter at times as intimidating as the swings of Liorzou and the predatory riffs.

The song closes with similar reflection soaked calm to how it started, drifting away so the heavy resonance of Coste’s bass can lure attention ready for an intensive crawl of riffs and grooves. DCVR is another swift inescapable persuasion equipped with a sonic tang and commanding stature, not forgetting an addictive swagger even with it is on the prowl. It is also another track showing the greater expanse and imagination in the band’s songwriting and sound, and their ability to perfectly entangle rugged terrains with highly provocative ambiences of sound and emotion.

   The bubbling electronic start to Last/Lost Hope instantly catches expectations unawares and by surprise, though they are barely given a nibble to feast on within Destination Unknown anyway. Its enslaving coaxing soon evolves into a thrilling and lively shuffle of sonic and melodic festivity guided by the ever appealing tones of Boutet. At times elements of post punk and new wave, as well as noise rock, seem to add their spice to the infectious tapestry of the rock popper, a strong catchiness emulated again in the dirtier but just as contagious Surrender. As much as you can find hints in varying degrees of bands such as Torche and Queens Of The Stone Age to the song, there is an older hue to the outstanding stomp, elements across its kinetic two minutes recalling eighties and nineties seeded ingenuity.

Doomed Drifters explores the darkest shadows and corners of the band’s sound but again tempers it with a sonic and melodic resourcefulness which energetically and brightly smoulders as it masterfully fuse contrasts and flavours. Seducing with greater and more experimental suggestiveness for an emotionally provocative and atmospheric climax, the song leaves ears enthralled and primed for the bewitchment of the similarly expansive landscape of Scheme. Growing bigger and bolder with every passing harmonious whisper and melodic enticement, the song dances and flirts with ears and imagination, recalling a strong if coincidental feel of Comsat Angels to its exceptional and thrilling adventure.

The album ends with its just and adventurous title track, Destination Unknown a thick provocative embrace which evolves and then revolves through a soundscape of sonic and emotional intensity. It is a fine finish to an exhilarating proposition. Watertank certainly thrilled with their first album but leave it looking a touch pale against the creative vivacity and explosive drama of Destination Unknown, one of the most exciting encounters this year so far.

Destination Unknown is out now via Solar Flare Records @ http://shop.solarflarerds.com/categories/pre-orders and http://music.solarflarerds.com/album/destination-unknown

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Ringmaster 30/06/2015

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Nine Seconds – Nothing To Confess

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Nothing To Confess is the second electro stomp from the collaboration of vocalist Oliver Spring of Sleepwalk / tEaR!dOwN / Nerve Conflict ) with No Comment keyboardists René Ebner and Thomas Kowalzik which goes under the name Nine Seconds. The successor to their successful and well received debut Poladroids of 2013, the project’s new album is an insatiable march of synth pop driven EBM. It is bursting with electro anthems which simply declare defiance from feet and enjoyment as unacceptable. That is a strong weapon for any album to have and a potent essence to Nothing To Confess but to temper its success, it is not always backed up by songs which forge a lingering grip or leave expectations challenged. To be honest though with the infectious tenacity and magnetism the album holds it is a missed opportunity easy to forgive.

Flickering electro sounds open up first track Attractive Lies, their one dimensional coaxing leading to a more flavoursome web of synth spawned enterprise and harsher rock energy. Vocally Spring brings raw texture to the song too, his coarse melodic roar cradled in a tantalising blend of causticity kissed endeavour and hook lined virulence. In no time the song is a contagious antagonist dragging body and emotions into its aggressive devilry and setting up listener and album for the following adventures, starting with Antistar Machinery. The second song has an even darker character and ferocity to its hypnotic enticing which with a similar trait to the vocals, is swiftly dominating attention and imagination. Holding a nice strain of harsh industrial belligerence in its infection fuelled persuasion too, the song continues the strong and impressive start of the release.

To be fair no track ever lets that stature drop too far but some lack the same stirring spark, such as Borderland (2nd Attempt) with its pungent intimidating atmosphere over a rebellious smile of sound, though this lurks more than unleashes its inhibitions. It is intriguing and again easy bait for dance-floors with a healthy spice of bands like Depeche Mode and early Ultravox to its sinew sculpted provocation. The lack of that particular addictive essence which ignited its predecessors is the key to its inability to stay with the listener long term, especially once Pompeii energetically bubbles in ears next and quickly takes all thoughts and focus in its arms. Exhausting in its sonic persistence and vigorous movement, the track is an irresistible lure turning Nothing To Confess back into an epidemic of sound and temptation.

As Waiting For The Last Kiss plays next, the vocals reveal one of the limitations of the release. Though Spring is a potent presence and vocal agitator, there is at times no daring in the Nine Seconds - Nothing to confessdelivery and diversity of his attack. This admittedly is more a flavouring of the scene rather than something specific to the band itself but it is telling that the better moments on the album see him and the band stretching that aspect more. The song itself is an enjoyable if familiar design and another soon put aside as firstly the sinister instrumental Malfunction 09 encourages the imagination and The Forgotten Man provokes the appetite with its eighties post punk/electro punk spiced challenge.

   No Shut Eye (Fight Back mix) ferments nicely in the ears next; it’s fiery heart and similarly inflamed creativity an evocative proposal which suggests sonic anarchy more than it actually realises. The song makes for a tempestuous enticing though No Shuffle soon puts it in its place with a tapestry of robotic beats, android like vocals, and an engrossing weave of effervesce electro invention prone to psychotic eruptions. It is a thrilling and dynamic slice of electro revelry stealing top honours from those earlier successes.

The album’s last unique track is Planet On Fire, a journey through a sultry ambience by portentous vocals and a fiercely smouldering intensity. It is another excellent canvas for the imagination to play, though for once feet are left to amuse themselves by the thought provoking exploration. The track shows another side to the band’s exploration in songwriting and makes for an intriguing conclusion to the album.

Nothing To Confess actually ends with the obligatory genre remixes; here Waiting For The Last Kiss being given a Nine Seconds vs Cryo Club Mix and Attractive Lies a Nine Seconds vs Mind.In.A.Box reworking whilst Antistar Machinery is treated to a Nine Seconds vs Leaether Strip interpretation. It is the main body of the album which impresses though. Yes it feels like there is a classic lurking within the release which the band could not quite find but when it sounds this enjoyable and provides an hour of body inciting tempting it is hard to imagine too many worrying.

Nothing To Confess is available now via Space Race Records @ http://spaceracerecords.com/releases/nothing-to-confess/

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RingMaster 09/01/2015

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Watertank – Sleepwalk

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Though having graced music for ten years, the just released album Sleepwalk from Watertank is their long awaited debut full length and a monster of a release it is too. As rhythmically and dynamically intrusive as it is melodically addictive and compelling, the thirteen track album from the French quintet is a masterful conjuror of pure addiction. With muscles and intensity which ensures an intimidation of the emotions from their powerful and potent force and equally a lover’s seduction at times from a mellow resonance which is mesmeric enough to calm a raging beast, the album is a passion instigator of the purest temptation.

Formed in 2003 and hailing from Nantes, Watertank has earned strong and eager acclaim with their live presence which has seen them play alongside the likes of Torche, Kylesa, Baroness, Capricorns, Lair Of The Minotaur, and The Ocean. The EP Sub in 2004 sets things off recording wise but it was with the following six track EP Fairy Crimes five years later that there was a concentrated wider attention bred around the band. Such its appeal and the continuing strength of sound and live shows from the band, that the anticipation for their first album has arguably outstripped the hunger for most others.

The Solar Flare Records released album immediately starts gnawing on the senses with the heavy ravenous riffs of Where It All watertank-sleepwalk-2013-hdBegins. It is a towering presence with crisp rhythms matching the intimidation of the guitars and bass whilst weaving in between the excellent melodic vocals of Thomas B. caress the wounds. With a laboured sludge gait and rasping intensity the brief but heavy track opens up the ear and beyond to the suggestion of something major impending, an assumption soon realised through the likes of Giant Heads and Pro Crook. The first of the pair is a noise rock sculpted engagement with teasing sonic grooves and pulsating cavernous bass riffs whilst again the excellent vocals and harmonies press their advantage home with ease and expressive craft. The second of the songs again steadily chews upon the psyche with carnivorous riffs from bassist Vincent A. and enterprising and equally scarring guitar invention from Bojan A. and Julien G. Riding a core of post hardcore and melodic rock with a doom seeded spine, the lure of the song is total and magnetic, as is the album to this point.

There are only highlights upon Sleepwalk to be honest but at times it just excites beyond legal allowances such as with Fear Over The City. A metronomic beckoning of its percussive finger leads in riffs which are prime bestiality, their snarling seduction joined and elevated by the following caustic and twisting guitar invention all framed by the punchy beats of Jocelyn L. With a groove as insidious as it is contagious and a raw squalling edge to the vocals, the track is a brute of a track, its sinews flexing at every turn and sonic abrasion igniting the passions.

The likes of the fiery Ants In Suits with its stoner/melodic rock presence holding aloud whispers of bands such as Alice In Chains and Quicksand, and the riveting title track with its wonderfully infectious yet niggling sonic scythes of sound within another stoner/grunge flavoured expanse, only cement and push on the strength of the release whilst How Fast recruits the passions with its uncomplicated yet carefully involved persuasion. Within this clutch of songs is another pair of the loftiest pinnacles upon the album, Far From Low and Holy Tranquilizer. The first is a thrilling heavy rock soaked encounter with more than a Thin Lizzy whisper about it especially in the blazes of melody flamed crescendos and the overall anthemic call of the song. The track actually reminds of nineties UK band Skyscraper a lot and that is definitely a good thing. The second of the two is the best track on the album, though that decision does fluctuate with each listen to be fair. Entering into view with again riffs which corrode upon touch, the song steps into a sinister ambience with the bass opening up its deepest inciting shadows whilst the vocals hold sway with a haunting embrace and narrative. Before the track presses harder onto the senses and thoughts with a rapacious greed and intensity, the song has the feel and sound of the first Comsat Angels album Waiting For A Miracle. It is outstanding, a sonic animal with a siren call.

Sharp Beaks Strike Back is another exceptional piece of sonic alchemy and the closing Six Days a progressively clad kaleidoscope of beguiling and captivating invention and colour rich imagination. It is the perfect melodic flourish to a fascinating and thrilling album. Watertank is one of the most refreshing and musically ingenious bands around so let’s just hope they do not take another ten years to unveil the follow-up to Sleepwalk, though more EPs will suffice too.

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9/10

RingMaster 29/04//2013

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