Coilguns – ‘Stadia Rods’ EP Review

Six tracks, twenty-eight minutes and yet you could be forgiven for thinking this demented EP is a hell of a lot longer thanks to the multiple riffs you’ll be exposed to over the course of the record. Work on ‘Stadia rods’, as the cover proudly states, was completed in a week, with no overdubs on the instrumentation, all of which allows Coilguns to capture their blistering intensity in a way that no amount of digital airbrushing and studio trickery could ever hope to match. Indeed, Coilguns hark back to the time when music was created by real bands, covered in real sweat in some dimly lit basement, with only a four track cassette deck and a lot of patience at their command; and like those pioneering acts who crafted music as a labour of love rather than because they figured out which button on their PC suddenly put everything in tune, Coilguns sound thrillingly alive, teetering on the edge of a total collapse where you spend the whole EP wondering if they’re going to keep it together long enough to finish a song (they do) or breakdown completely and have to start again having painstakingly erased the tape (they don’t) – it makes for tense, enthralling listening and the beautifully designed, handmade packaging merely proves to be the icing on the cake.

Opening with ‘Parkensine’ there is no gentle easing in, no mood-setting intro, just an achingly brutal guitar riff and Louis Jucker’s vocals which are so painfully raw you feel like you’re voice is going in sympathy. With no bass (coilguns are a three piece) the guitars carry the weight of the EP, and there are times when you find yourself wondering how one musician can make so much damn noise – the guitar howls and screams as if in pain, the lower end a distorted, overloaded rumble that should be doing permanent damage to whichever broken-ass cab it’s being put through whilst all along Luc Hess drums like a man possessed – part metal, part jazz, getting a handle on his rhythm is like trying to grab hold of a well-oiled rodent – every time you think you’ve nailed it he slithers once more from out of your grasp and into another darkened corner from which to bait you… And all that’s just the first track. Tracks 2 & 3 – ‘zoetropist’ and ‘in the limelights’ respectively – open with a riff that’s awash with treble and which provides the perfect backdrop for Louis’ maxed out vocals. Initially a more straightforward track than the opening gambit, just as you think you’ve settled into the groove Jonathan Nido peels out a riff of relentless ferocity that would surely be more at home on a death metal album before the whole thing segues into the menacing third track, with half time drums and eerie guitar tearing the mood into pieces and leaving you adrift without a reference point to hold onto. It’s as inspiring and unexpected as Botch’s ‘Afghamistam’ from their ‘anthology of dead ends’ EP, a record that shares some similar characteristics with Coilguns’ furiously intense approach and white hot musicianship. As the track builds, the riffs becoming ever more intense, the drums pounding their hypnotic beat into your skull, you can only reflect at how far the band have improved since the fine split EP they released at the tail end of last year. With more space in which to  work, Coilguns’ immense levels of potential are only now becoming apparent, and if this EP is anything to go by a full-length album will be truly special indeed.

Having lulled you into a trance, the battering ram of ‘witness the Kern arc’ – part Sonic Youth, part Dillinger escape plan – homes in on the soft areas of your skull with all the force of a V2 rocket. The riffs veer wildly between shiny metal excess, stripped down via the production to its primitive exo-skeleton and the raging maelstroms of noise found on early Sonic youth records, the noise is tremendous, the levels of volume a physical affront to the human nervous system and all the while Louis’ voice screams out in the scratchy darkness – our guide, however terrifying he may be, in these unfamiliar soundscapes. The final two tracks are, again, a two part experience – ‘the shuftan process parts 1 & 2’ which emerge out of a mire of feedback to rampage out of the speakers with unbridled rage before things take a disturbing turn in the second act with the slowed down guitars and near-non-existent drums resembling Khanate’s unrivalled ‘things viral’ for slow-motion horror. Such aural torture can only last so long, however, and as the music falls increasingly left of centre you can sense the anticipation within the members of the band, their bodies tensed, the concentration radiating out for the moment when the song explodes for one last bloody rampage across feral pastures before their gone and the CD lapses into an uneasy silence.

Coilguns were impressive on their split EP with Kunz, there is no doubt about that but this… this showcases a band who have developed out of all bounds of probability in the intervening months. The music is ferociously tight and yet with a ragged, raw edge – the same sort of edge that made Iggy’s ‘raw power’ so utterly intense an experience, and the band’s song-writing has also  developed a pace, the tracks ambitious and multi-faceted, honed by the experience of playing live but not dimmed by the baggage of over-familiarity. If you lament the passing of Botch or adore the twisted, convoluted power of converge then this beautifully brutal EP is a must have for you. Available as a download or, better still, limited, coloured vinyl (head here – but don’t tarry too long, they’re very limited ) which helpfully also comes with a digital version so you can listen on the go, this is an essential release for a band who are proudly and fiercely paving their own way through an industry in turmoil. ‘Stadia rods’ is a magnificent effort indeed.

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