2002, Willowtip Records
At certain instances the pretensions, dreams, hopes, desires, or urgings of death and black metal musicians cross each other at fortunate waypoints and the great divide between aspirations and realizations can be breached by random factors (Clausewitz's "friction") completely outside their band's control. Certain groups, knowing the fortuitous results that can arise from such instances, deliberately cultivate their appearance and existence, like priests bowing before some arcane effigy of abandon or some site of a possible providential manifestation. Enter improvisation and the cult of the "everyday" pressures that supposedly inspire this violent music we all love. Watchmaker do not shy away from these scene-illegal atmospheres/realms of the mundane and all-too-real - in fact they passionately court them and (paying lip service to these "inspirations" at least) try to pierce them in ripe locations in order to bleed out some of the "everyday" into their creations. Do they succeed? I believe they do, at least on parts of this recording.
It doesn't matter to me if this record (19 tracks) was completely "written" in the studio or not, or if the band had all the riffs assembled in different configurations or just made changes at the last moment, or had a certain number of songs finished and then just altered them in different ways to produce separate compositions, etc. The point is that it doesn't matter: the point is that there isn't a point. Watchmaker wanted to capture raw emotion and spontaneity - they succeed with those aspirations (see the above paragraph) here, but they also fail. They convince because the sheer power of their combined chemistry can overwhelm through bravado, anger, and stimulated aural violence, and on a certain emotional level and in its closest corollaries or tangential tributaries of the most basic levels of logical/musical understanding this is enough to sway one's opinion towards the favorable. The minor chords, the "dissonance", noise, clashing half-harmonies, aborted dual-guitar interactions, the demanding (spoiled infant) percussion, the monotonous, edge-of-a-cliff, nervous breakdown vocals (intrepid shouter Livoti supposedly recorded his contributions after a sleepless night watching the birth of his first child), all of this equals futurity, modernity presented for (un)easy consumption, of course, but also following firmly in the established (at this point) Willowtip tradition of post-everything attempts to squeeze the rotten remains of metal and hardcore for one last satisfying gasp of adolescent aggression. So we have guitars that reference metal and hardcore, drums that descend from Brutal Truth, a bassist that appears only rarely (and as such he is completely traditional, but that's not his fault), and a demented, possessed, all-too-earnest frontman screaming about the horrors of the daily grind. It is compelling in limited doses...it fails, as I said above, in the later tracks where the formula begins to press down paths already too well explored, but for at least half of this album Watchmaker is adequately satisfied, I think, in feeling they are right on the tail of whatever elusive mythical beast of self-expression and artistic completion they are chasing.
In limited doses, again, this is often exactly what I need at certain points in the day. It becomes something of a trial of patience and/or endurance to make it through all 19 tracks, however. I would like to hear what this band could do with a full year's worth of slow writing, slow thinking, and slow planning...the talent, anger, and desire are certainly there.