Watertank - Silent Running (Cover Artwork)


Silent Running (2020)

Atypeek Music

Spending a lot of my time, as I do, listening to the darker end of the musical spectrum, from time to time even I feel like I could do with an aural palate-cleanser. I’ll most often turn to a selection of orgcore punk or singer-songwriters for that particular purpose. What I don’t often find myself listening to (which is a little odd given some of my earliest forays into guitar music as a kid) is good old-fashioned rock bands. It could be argued that there are fewer of those around these days as everyone seems be either put into any one of a growing number of sub-genres, or it could even just be that what used to be rock music, i.e. big bands who are able to make a living in the mainstream, are far more like pop bands to most people’s ears these days. I’m looking at you, The 1975, 21 Pilots and all the rest of your overly-polished, anodyne cohorts…

So rock bands. The term doesn’t really inspire a great deal of excitement in me, but that’s because of the contemporary connotations more than what the term can represent. But I think that’s what Watertank are. It might not say that in the press notes and some of the references therein are a little baffling to me (Noise rock? Post-Hardcore?) because this record has far more in common with Basement or even Sunny Day Real Estate than it does Daughters or Touché Amoré. There are admittedly some unusual noises that pepper some of the tracks and this brings some beneficial texture to the songs, but in the end, these are just really good rock songs. The vocals are ethereally melodic (no screaming/harsh vocals) and most of the riffs are equally so. There is a 90’s quality to the structures and production as well, which evokes early Foo Fighters. Again, no bad thing. On top of this, there is only one song of the ten on the record (album closer and highlight “Cryptobiosis”) that truly breaks the 4-minute mark which makes consuming the record almost staggeringly easy. It’s almost comforting in its familiarity, which is unusual for a band I’ve not listened to before.

The lead guitar lines are lazy but beguiling (see the title track for the best examples of this), the choruses crash and break pleasingly and ultimately, the process of listening to this record is thoroughly enjoyable. It could be argued that it rarely hits hard enough to really blow your skirt up, but there are still plenty of moments that feel anthemic and loaded with enough momentum that will get your head nodding along. The final break of “The Ejector Side” is a great example of this and again puts me in mind of early Foo Fighters. There are other points on the record where you can feel the spectre of Alice in Chains or Smashing Pumpkins, yet Watertank are not aping anyone. They don’t sound immediately like any of those bands, but the influences are relatively clear to see.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I take a break from metal and am just looking for a warming, lightly-distorted, major-key, musical hug. Watertank are certainly more than just that and for some people, this will be an absolute must-listen record because it’s brilliantly made, it really is. My slight misgiving comes from the fact that it does all sound so familiar. This is ground that has been tread oh so many times before. It doesn’t mean it’s any less good, but the ingredient that often makes something special, surprises, is rather lacking. But if you want to listen to rock music that takes you back a few decades in a pleasing yet oddly non-nostalgic way, then Watertank are here to make your day. I wonder whether their track “Thing Of The Past” is a knowing nod, or just coincidence…?