You’re probably well aware of some of Switzerland’s biggest exports; army knives, chocolates, cheese, clocks, and cowbells, but did you consider hard core punk metal? No? Maybe you should. You may be pleasantly surprised by Coilguns and their third full length, Watchwinders. Hailing from La Chaux-de-Fonds, their sophomore album Millenials, released in 2018, was an angry bleak piece of blackened hard core, yet here we are only one year later and they seem to have shifted their sound slightly. Watchwinders is a heavy record but there’s nothing on here that feels as dark and raw as ‘Anchorite’ or ‘Millenials’. Instead they have embraced their quirky side which they have shown glimpses of in the past. They are stirring some disparate influences into a melting pot, mixing it all together, and then throwing it against a wall to see what sticks. The majority of it does, making for a refreshing listen.
The production on Watchwinders is excellent; it’s crisp, clear and makes these twelve scattershot bursts of sharp punk rock shocks sound great, the louder they are the better. The album title itself takes its name from the expensive devices that the rich use to wind their even more expensive watches when they are not wearing them. The band sees this as a ‘clear demonstration of how we keep dreaming of perpetual motion though we’re perfectly aware that it cannot be achieved’, going on to state that ‘we humans are now realizing the limits of the closed system we live in’. The album does have a feel of perpetual motion about it; the majority of the tracks race by in a chaotic blur of noise, each blending into the next with the use of synths and effects.
‘Shortcuts’ sets the cogs in motion, beginning with drums that are reminiscent of ‘I am the Resurrection’ by The Stone Roses (an unexpected reference, but stay with me) before the entrance of rough punky vocals. The track is over in well under two minutes and rushes headlong into ‘Subculture Encryptors’, all sinewy guitars and repetitive drums while gradually building tension, before a gloriously heavy breakdown halfway through. From here on in many a riff are plundered from their arsenal; ‘Big Writer’s Block’ is a smorgasbord of sounds, featuring video game samples and guitars as catchy as herpes, while ‘The Growing Block View’ gets swept along on a low slung bass groove (which is ironic as the band don’t actually feature a bass player) and some doomy riffing which induces some serious head nodding. Meanwhile the vocals and the tidy effortless drumming bring to mind early Bloc Party (also unexpected, but a good thing, trust me).
There’s a lot going on, the dynamics constantly change, at times it’s fast, speedy hard core, at others it slows down a tad to let the grooves get some air. Apart from the aforementioned curveball references, Watchwinders also brings to mind more established acts from the alternative rock scene such as Refused, At the Drive-In and The Chariot (RIP). It’s addictive, the type of album that once you’ve finished listening you’re immediately compelled to go back to the beginning and listen again. It feels radical and contemporary, weaving hard core, punk, metal and even a little pop together to create an exciting sonic explosion. Coilguns do put a shift in; they tour Europe relentlessly and have visited the UK twice within the last year supporting bands such as Cult Leader, Birds in Row and Ken Mode and have a headlining UK tour during November 2019. The future looks bright for Coilguns; they are creating a big noise, a band well worth setting your sights on and investing some time in.
(8.5/10 James Jackson)