Watertank is a band I really, really enjoy despite the fact that they really, really sound like someone else. Hailing from Nates, France and the more melodic, alt-rocking side of the sludge barometer, their previous album, Sleepwalk really, really drew comparisons to Torche’s Harmonicraft in my mind. There was a time, many moons ago, when I would have immediately dismissed Sleepwalk because of the sonic parallels between it and another record, but my appreciation for music long ago developed to include copycats, doppelgangers and rip-offs with the caveat being it doesn’t really matter all that much as long as whoever I'm listening to is writing quality music and good songs.
Hell, if we all limited our listening habits and record collections to the truly original, well… put it this way, each and every one of us would have a hell of a lot more time for pursuits outside of music.
Watertank know how to balance melody, big riffs, mellifluously throaty vocals and down tuned heaviness, regardless of who they’re aping. The funny thing about Destination Unknown, however, is not that it has made a wholesale move away from sounding like Torche – though they sound a lot less like here-and-now Torche after the release of the darker, doomier Restarter – it’s that this album is more reminiscent of Tilts. Now, the name Tilts may not be familiar to the majority of you, but it is the band that Torche guitarist Andrew Elstner played in before joining the Miami bruisers and in which he still plays with during main gig downtime.
Watertank does present a bit more on the dour side when compared to the band that delivered such light-hearted fare like “Ozark Bowtie” and “Hot for Pizza,” but the style is spacious and melodic with a balancing of crushing doom and hard-hitting melodic punk. This comes via stacked guitars playing stacked chords through an appropriately meaty tone simmering with a bright mid-range clarity that bristles like the 90s never went away. Sometimes a lumbering tree trunk of a riff drives the tune (“Contrails”), other a pointed and sweeping melody line dominates (“Last Lost Hope”), sometimes it’s a combination of dueling guitars running counterpoint in different registers all contributing to an expansive breadth of sound (“Surrender”). Other times you just get the feeling that someone’s been listening to Quicksand’s Manic Compression a fuck of a lot (“DCVR”).
There are a couple of moody detours that add to the overall dynamic of the record; most of “Scheme” sounds like a cross between mellow Unwound and something the dude from Joy Division wrote before hanging himself, and the title track could be the collision between post-metal/rock and Bruce Springsteen. It may be easy to play connect the dots with Watertank’s influences, but with songs this powerful and melodically robust, who the fuck cares? Didn’t your mom and Voivod ever tell you, nothing comes from nowhere?