Label: Atypeek Music Release date: 04 September 2020
Watertank is a four-piece outfit hailing from Nantes, France who have a lot of sound to offer and little explanation. They carefully balance their sound along the doom and noise rock spectrum, settling on sludge as a solid label. This gives them the bite of sludge and the droll of doom, all neatly packed in short but powerful tracks. Thomas Boutet’s clear and lingering vocals are reminiscent of Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. The guitars, comparatively, have much more of a punky, grungy vibe. Together, Watertank’s sound has a pleasantly familiar explosive energy, slowed to a uniquely sludgy smolder.
After ten years of on-and-off work and lineup changes, the quartet successfully released their first album, Sleepwalk, in 2013. Two years later, the band released the stronger and more polished Destination Unknown to thunderous applause. Over the years, their appeal has let them share the stage with the likes of Baroness, The Ocean, and Torche. Another break happened after their sophomore album, but they’re back again with this year’s killer release, Silent Running.
Envision starts the album off with a whisper that builds to an almost poppy song with lightly deviating notes. The track sounds a bit like a Bloc Party B-side and is an interesting way to lead in. The next track, Suffogaze, was previously released as a single and is alarmingly short at just over two minutes. This fuzzed-out song feels like a post-metal band squeezed a 10-minute track down, leaving the listener starving for another. The eponymous Silent Running is next, and the lovely guitar work throughout seems to tell a story all its own. Behind it, Boutet mutters along, his soft voice echoing and blending in with the other instruments. The Ejector Side, another previously released single, feels different from previous songs and definitely will cause ears to perk up. The clarity of the guitars and the soothing instrumental break halfway through make this a definite standout piece.
Spiritless is the third previously released single, but despite this, is a real blink-and-miss-it song. Almost too calm for a single, Boutet’s voice is barely heard above the softly humming guitars and muted drums. About halfway through, the song wakes up but remains groggily–and not unpleasantly–wandering in the background. Timezone gives Boutet’s vocals more focus, his voice probably the clearest on the album so far. The guitars here sound as if fingers barely remembered what notes to play before strumming. This gives it an intentionally lazy kind of delivery, matched by Boutet’s emotional and lingering moans. The next track, Beholders, has little variation and is the weakest on the album, but is still a good listen.
Thing of the Past brings it back in, the excellent guitar work harmonizing with the drums, scratching that headbanger’s itch. Sudden silence and the song played in reverse is a strange way to end this track, but it really works. Building World has some positive and almost zen sounds to it. The bass here makes a strong appearance behind almost psychedelic guitars. This song evolves in a hypnotic way that seems impossible for only four minutes, yet also ends far too quickly. The last track on the album is the melancholy and pensive Cryptobiosis. This song is hard to break down into its complex pieces, metal and hardcore combining with new wave, synthy interjections. No overly calm song is complete without a sudden sax solo either, and Watertank is willing to deliver.
Powerful yet restrained, Watertank is a living contradiction that is difficult to place and very easy to listen to. Their songs are highly accessible for fans of rock, metal, doom, sludge, pop, and many other genres that lie between. Their sound is unmistakably theirs, but close enough to bigger names out there to be treated with the same respect. It’s clear that Watertank have the skills and years to be bigger than they are now, as they undeniably deserve. It’s all a matter of catching up with lost time.
- Thomas Boutet – Vocals, guitar
- Bojan A – Guitar
- Vincent A – Bass
- Jocelyn L – Drums
- Silent Running
- The Ejector Side
- Thing of the Past
- Building World