Watertank – Fairy Crimes …   Leave a comment

Now, modern/alternative sludge a la Baroness, Kylesa, Black Sleep of Kali is one thing with their ever-changing songs made out of transition from one part to the next, with minute connections tying together the pieces into coherent wholes. But I have never heard modern sludge this dense. This is so prominently the case that in my first few dozen listens, the songs seemed to be made of droning, nondescript slabs, the vocals were static and I just couldn’t hear anything resembling transitions between different parts. That is to say, this album, is one of those thick, condensed affairs that only yields its secrets on multiple and repeated listens.

In general, this French alternative sludge outfit perform in polar opposites: the riffs and drumming is large, out there and in-your-face, but the transitions between parts and the variations are so minute, so small and so hidden in detail that subtlety becomes their greatest strength. With vocals that are clearly from the Jay Gordon school of singing, pounding drum-work, guitars that manage to somehow riff while droning (go figure) and bass that fades in and out of your ears, Watertank delivers a thick wall of sound, crushing you from all corners. And that’s not such a good thing, because sometimes, the album can be a bit too overwhelming and you want some reprieve, some “Steel that Sleeps the Eye” moment. Plus, laying these multi-layered songs on top of another can get you lost in the first dozen or so listens, where you go, “wait, what was that song again?”

Anyway. We enter into the world of Watertank with “This City’s Got Laws”, a somewhat Spaghetti-Western-ish instrumental opener that is in no way an indication of what is to come. It introduces us to the setting and introduces how the band churns. They follow that up immediately with “Felony Days” a somewhat-instrumental piece that introduces vocals. Here, the band starts with their thick, razor-sharp, heavy riffing that feels like a ten ton hammer crashing down on a concrete block, and couple that up with some impressive vocal harmonies. Some interesting guitars here, that churn as well as deliver distorted, shrieking licks. Without cutting speed, the band launches headlong into the title track, “Fairy Crimes” that continues the aforementioned style of dense riffs, pounding drums and heavy guitars. The band is at its most technical in this song, delivering swift licks and cringing passages with ease – but it is also one of the most difficult songs due to its rapid speed and almost unnoticeable transitions. Too much action for just three minutes.

Next up is “Sweet Up Life”, which has the most distinguishing characteristic of drum attacks: the drummer really pounds on that double bass, so much so that at certain parts, drums just leap out to the forefront. Otherwise it does the incredible job of keeping the pulse level high and delivers a burning, lumbering, infernal affair that does not drop the pace one single millisecond. Which is nothing compared to “Attract Drama” that alternates between slabs of sludge and rather trash-metal inspired passages. It’s huge, it’s out there, and it’s louder, harder, faster than anything you’ve heard thus far on the album. The song’s almost like a testament to what the band wants: they want you to just shrivel under the constant assault of sound.

This demon ride of an album comes to an end with “Black Hot Tar”, which, by far, is the softest song on there, and considering that it has technical death-ish passages, hard riffs that rumble on with little restraint or rest, that’s not saying much. To be fair, though, this song is when the band gets somewhat atmospheric, with the vocals taking their own course and the guitars doing rather progressive exchanges, but overall, there are signs of a darker, more moody sound hidden beneath the layers on layers on layers of sound that I wish they’d explore a little more.

To sum up, my general impression is that, while very, very impressive and clearly a statement of intent (and/or testament of potential), the songs could do with a little bit more calm, because there is just too much going on in such short songs and the music is too damn dense to handle such penchant for going off on one all the time. That aside, it’s a breathless, teeth-grinding, head-spinning, pulse-quickening affair, that has some flaws, but shows potential. The biggest strength here is that you can find new stuff after each listen, things you might have missed on other go-throughs. If any of what you read sounds good, or you want to see just how extreme the density of the wall of sound sludge in all its forms can apply, give it a go. But those of you who would like a little bit of a resting period between brain-crushing songs laid on top of one another without mercy, look elsewhere. 8.7/10

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Watertank @ Bandcamp

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Posted June 22, 2011 by doommantia in Watertank

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