Crackling aflame as the mud drips onto their nuclear sun-exposed skin La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland born noise rock/mathcore hybrid quartet Coilguns have broken through the veil of sludge-muddied chaotic hardcore and birthed thrashing in seizure for their third full-length album since 2013. Infectiously angular and now as hyperactive on reel as they are live, ‘Watchwinders’ is the ripped open chest of a relatively skronk free sledgehammered noise punk howler that fans of needled and throttled heavy music will gladly choke upon ’til death, myself included. Last years ‘Millennials’ was infamously a Breach meets (Hydra Head era) Knut toughie, a sludged and math’d out chugger that was intentionally off-the-cuff and served as an emboldened second point of launch beyond the DIY side-project status of the band (most members played on The Ocean‘s ‘Heliocentric’ & ‘Anthropocentric’ albums) towards a singular and more ambitious future. If you’re looking for ‘Millennials’ part two, you won’t find more than a whiff of its ‘buzzing towards the obscure’ atmospheric heft until Side B of ‘Watchwinders’ as Coilguns have too much to say upfront to slow down. They’re driven, tightening, putting everything into these first six songs and hell, it ends up being some of their best (most direct) material to date. A powerfully front-loaded punch, for better or worse.
And at some point it’ll all crumble beneath your feet if you won’t come down alongside it. The sharp and machine-like connection of Coilguns‘ meticulously spastic and thrillingly bounding Side A provides a bristling smash of ‘We Are the Romans’-era Botch riff runs and intensity worthy of a less ‘core’ version of The Armed, USA Nails, or Daughters‘ self-titled but once they exit into the void the second half of the album turns atmospheric and spaced, a disorientation beyond the directional hulk of its antecedent half. “Our only goal is going darker, our only goal is going darker…” vocalist/guitarist Louis Jucker warns on “Subculture Encrypters” yet that foreshadowing doesn’t pay off until knee-deep in the billowing twilight ruckus of “Broken Records”. A certain frustration, a contempt enrages and facilitates the actions leading up to the broken, crackling waves of “A Mirror Bias”; This represents either a point of breakage, a literal experimental high, or simply a piece of the collaborative month they’d spent in the studio writing ‘Watchwinders’ that couldn’t be parted with. It all begins to flail inexplicably and I’d found myself scrambling for these later tracks’ relationships with the noise-rocked knifing the first five tracks provide.
Static, noise, anxietous sludge bellowing and punkish bursts all communicate the range expressed on ‘Millennials’ the year previous in an almost defeatist moodiness that is just off-putting enough to be memorable. Though I appreciate the juxtaposition of the two halves, the relation between greater extremity on one side and greater simplicity on the other, all that “Prioress” and “A Mirror Bias” do for the tracklist is abruptly kill the momentum their surrounding songs insist upon creating. “Urban Reserves” and the punkish oddity of “The Morning Shower” do ultimately salvage this part of the record but I’m kept from loving ‘Watchwinders’ front to back for the sake of a couple of short pieces that don’t ‘fit’ with any obvious (enough) intention. Don’t pick too deeply at that scabbing I’d suggest, as for all of my pining I’ve spent a good three months listening and re-listening intently to every brilliant detail of this record. The bigger picture might suggest I am just -too- in love with the angular jut of “Big Writer’s Block”, the paranoiac immensity of the title track, and the soul-burning existential dread that “The Growing Block View” provided. I’d happily steep within these crunchy mathcore-meets-noise rock pieces for another several seasons; Therein lies my moderately high recommendation — My own insistent need to negate a couple null pieces for the greater good of a finely made, spontaneous and tastefully restrained over-the-top full listen. For preview purposes I’d suggest starting with “Subculture Encrypters” and “Watchwinders” for Coilguns at their best.
Multiple present tenses. 4.0/5.0
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