Man, I’m having a hard time keeping track of the seasons this year. Summer came and is now almost past, but every month has just felt the same. But hey, summer doesn’t technically end for a few more weeks, there’s time for one more feel-good, summery album before things cool down, right? Well today I bring you just that with Silent Running, the latest from French post-hardcore outfit Watertank.
The most obvious comparison point for this album is the band Torche. There’s definitely a good bit of that brand of stoner/sludge pop going on here, and the vocals are a dead-ringer for Torche’s Steve Brooks. Even if this band were the Greta Van Fleet of Torche it still wouldn’t be the worst thing – I wish this style of rock/metal would’ve taken off further than it has. Fortunately though, this album is much more than just Torche worship. There’s plenty of shoegaze, grunge, alt-rock, and post-everything throughout, allowing Silent Running to stand proud on its own.
Watertank does a lot within the confines of 2-3 minute songs. The massive choruses will hook you in, and the dynamic changes will leave you cheering for an encore. This is evident on the opening track “Envision”, which starts off as a straight-ahead bopper and ends with a heavy overcast. This song, like many others that follow, has so many layers and variations that keep an otherwise familiar verse/chorus format sounding fresh.
Tracks like “Spiritless” and the title track give most modern shoegaze bands a run for their money, while “Suffogaze” sounds just as advertised. Those harmonies, particularly on “Suffogaze” are otherworldly. All three tracks are excellent takes on the genre that never sit still enough to be properly classifiable as shoegaze. And therein lies Silent Running‘s greatest strength – there’s a ton of experimentation and atmospherics, but the band never loses momentum. Watertank can somehow manage to be meticulously nuanced while playing at full energy.
Ok, but I hear you. The textured vibes, boppy riffs, and massive hooks are great and all, but where’s the crushing darkness? “Beholders” is what you came here for – it’s a brooding, menacing, and lumbering cut that comes in at a pivotal moment in the tracklist. Even the semi-major key sections of the song sound haunting. This track is followed by two heaters “Thing of the Past” and “Building World”, which are radio-rock tunes in an alternate dimension where radio rock doesn’t suck. Closer “Cryptobiosis” is the cut for the diehard post-rock rockers, take heed! But if you were one of those people who loved the sax-metal craze of 2018/2019, there’s a little something at the end for you too – saxgaze for all!
So this is the section where my critiques usually come in. Watertank is kind of a silly band name. Boom! There you go – the hard-hitting journalism, the savage takedowns, the nasty quips that you can only get at Burnt Coffee Inc.
Anyways, if you’re like me and love stoner, shoegaze, and doom and simultaneously find too much mediocrity in those subgenres, this album is for you. This feels tailor-made for people in our niche. As we approach Bandcamp Friday, I highly recommend adding Silent Running to your shopping cart. This is one of the freshest, most layered takes I’ve heard on rock music all year.
Watertank’s new album Silent Running is out on September 4th via Atypeek Music.
Best Tracks: Beholders, Spiritless, Building World, Suffogaze
Weakest Tracks: n/a
FFO: Torche, Helmet, Failure, Cloakroom
Overall Score: A