Anticipation grows in the battering rhythms and oppressive bass pressure in the opening stanzas of “Reel 2.” Guitars self-immolate, waiting for the black sun to break across the horizon and a new dawn to flood the land. Water Damage is the septet (!!) of Nate Cross, Jeff Piwonka, Travis Austin, Thor Harris, Greg Piwonka, Mike Kanin, and George Dishner. To keep score, that’s two bassists, a synth player, a guitarist (playing bowed style), and three (!!!) drummers (okay so they don’t necessarily play with all three on hand, but a minimum of two drummers and two bassists is always the goal). It may seem obvious, but Water Damage goes all-out heavy all the time.
Kicking into gear with a 22-minute pummeling is a hell of a way to start an album, but Repeater is only interested in mining the scuzziest of grooves for every last drop of molten metal. The intensity is so thick that it threatens to conjure up its own gravitational pull. Fuzz-stricken drones slither through empty streets filling in every empty space like spray foam, eventually congealing into a solid mass. This is a new kind of noise wall.
“Reel 4B” gets into headier zones with scorched Earth feedback howling at a psychedelic moon. Even in the snarl, there’s a soulful underbelly that this sonic squall protects at all costs. Water Damage is a kinship and these blast furnace improvisations are a communal expression. “Reel 4B” grinds the sharp-edged guitar screams and splintered drums pounding roofing nails into the concrete. There’s a purpose in the action, but the end result is all bent up and twisted; a mangled, majestic statute of rust.
I can’t get enough of Water Damage. This scratches an itch I didn’t even realize I had. Every second of Repeater sucks all the oxygen from whatever space we’re trapped inside, clobbered and restless. There’s no reason to let up because the only way is forward. The way the dueling drum kits plod along and plot away while a cacophony of razor wire sings against a brick wall is pure catharsis. Light it up.