It’s fair to say that Coilguns, an offshoot of German post-metallers The Ocean that came to attention last year, have received a fair amount of admiring glances from the releases of the brutally brilliant ‘Stadia Rods’ and their split with NVRVD. Their chaotic, often off-the-rails sludgy metal/noise rock often feels like being attacked repeatedly with a hammer, by a cold, calculating maniac with diesel in his blood and vengeance in his bones. Suffice to say, ‘Commuters’, the first full length from the trio, continues along this tread with a lot of firepower and a few questions too.
On numerous tracks the band have recruited an extra four guitarists, utilised in a few different ways, but mainly to add extra beef to their output, it seems. The most inventive of these, following a conventional but satisfying opener ‘Commuters Part 1’, its following track (‘Part 2’), an eleven-minute, largely spoken word discourse that builds in volume and discordance until it eventually collapses into roaring thunder. Arguably, this becomes the centrepiece of the album, despite only being the second track. The use of five guitarists on certain tracks serves to ratchet up the heaviness of the band, coming to their fore most impressively on the closing two tracks; firstly ‘Flippists/Privateers’, which towards the end sounds at though its submerging under the weight of its own riff, drowning in a sea of noise, before concluding with the sludgy eight-minute plus ‘Earthians’, which drops like concrete anvils falling out of the sky a la ‘Snake Rattle n’ Roll’. The downside to this is that the middle of the album, which sees Coilguns as their usual threesome, doesn’t feel half as memorable, despite some stupidly good moments like the whole of ‘Machines of Sleep’. It gets broken up into occasional choppy, shorter waters and even the near seven-minute riot of ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’, featuring Rotten Sound’s Keiji Niinima, doesn’t seem to have the same punching power displayed on some of the band’s previous work to date.
I do wonder exactly how Coilguns will seek to recreate the power of those songs where several guitarists feature. You would think they would struggle, unless they take all those guys out on the road with them, to really get the likes of ‘Earthians’ sounding like they do on record. Still, if they want to get into a battle with Motörhead or Manowar for the title of world’s loudest band, who am I to argue?
Far from being a disappointment, ‘Commuters’ is actually a solidly good debut album, excelling for the band’s willingness to push the boat with the extra guitarists and their eye for progression on their original sound. Maybe my own sense of slight underwhelment stems from my own high hopes for the release, after three horrifically brilliant EPs. Coilguns still remain a vitally important band though, and even though ‘Commuters’ occasionally dips below all-cylinders, its an album you’d be foolish to ignore.
Buy/download ‘Commuters’ here
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