Haiduk – Demonicon
Canadian metal composer Luka Milojica and his blackened death brainchild Haiduk have returned with another blistering collection of Hell-spawned hymns. The incendiary follow-up to 2012’s Spellbook, titled Demonicon, bests its predecessor greatly. Haiduk doesn’t tread a lot of new ground with Demonicon, but there is a notable increase in heaviness and malevolence. The thrash adjacent, death metal riffs and rhythms that were present on Spellbook have almost completely dissipated. Instead, the guitars conjure these loose and spiraling blackened riffs in their place. The end result is a much more sinister and darker album. From the opening, bouncing madness of “Syth”, to the high octane conflagration of “Xhadex”, Demonicon succeeds in pummeling the listener from start to finish. The serpentine guitars slither and intertwine with each other erratically and do not shy away from complexity. The drum machine is relentless in its mechanized assaults and Milojica’s raspy, spectral vocals top everything off. The skill and precision Milojica utilizes on Demonicon is pretty impressive, but the record is not without its flaws. Though everything about the record is sharper and more deadly, the songs tend to suffer a bit of an identity crisis. There is not enough variety in sound and structure between songs, which could make finding a standout track a daunting task. But compared to Spellbook, Demonicon is definitely miles ahead. Hopefully, Haiduk continues to grow and delivers the ultimate hellacious opus it deserves.
Watertank – Destination Unknown
Two years after the release of their crushing debut, Sleepwalk, France’s Watertank return with a properly smashing follow-up. The new record, titled Destination Unknown, isn’t a far cry from its predecessor, but it does show the band progressing sonically. Though Sleepwalk was more of a straightforward kick in the teeth, Destination Unknown is more varied, more polished and more melodic. Watertank craft catchy, sludge-ridden rock tunes that will immediately draw comparisons to Torche, especially the more recent releases from the Floridian act. Elements of 90’s post-hardcore in the vein of Manic Compression-era Quicksand, and the the most abrasive of alternative and grunge can also be heard in the mix. “Automatic Reset” opens up the record with a swirling, flanger-laden riff that bleeds into the song’s sludgy yet saccharine procession of drop-tuned rocking. Tracks like “Fever” and “Surrender” churn out bashing post-hardcore rhythms that collide head-on with energetic, playful melodies and bellowing chords. Massive, chugging marches make up the majority of the titanic “DCVR”, while an interplay between melodious clean riffs and Amphetamine Reptile, Helmet-esque grooves thrives within “Doomed Drifters”. The album’s final two songs is where the band venture into new territory. Melancholic bass lines and guitars open up “Scheme” beneath ethereal, choral atmospheres. After two minutes, the track stampedes into effect-laden verses and sludgy choruses that are reminiscent of Hum and The Life and Times. “Destination Unknown” closes out the album with a somber cycle between stripped down guitar riffs and bass-heavy, acoustic choruses. Destination Unknown offers the best of both worlds. The groove-heavy rock jams are there for those who feel like headbanging, and the subdued, melodious passages are there for those who crave introspection. Although Torche comparisons are going to be drawn, as they were with Sleepwalk, Destination Unknown shows Watertank really beginning to find their own sound.