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