Saturday, December 10, 2016

review: Watchtower

Concepts Of Math: Book One
Prosthetic Records
The story so far had gone something like this: Form a great band, record two well received albums, end the band and watch the legend and the myth grow year by year until it reaches cult-like worship status amongst some in the press, the initiated connoisseurs of virtuoso metal, and certain bands. Would they ever get back together and make music again? All the members of the band are alive, so what has been the holdup?
Watchtower is a band that began in the early 80s in Texas, U.S. The debut album Energetic Disassembly in 1985 is technical thrash characterized by dexterous riffing, audible and ambitious bass lines, busy drumming with an exuberant penchant for fills and high singing. It is thrash, but it is very skilled and very capable, and it is not the stereotype of 80s thrash that some people perhaps might have. Then, in 1989 the second album came out and it was called Control and Resistance, a work of that is top of the line in all respects. If you read reviews of it, you'll find that quite a few knowledgeable people consider it a masterpiece, like some people on Metal Archives, for instance.
This 2016 EP represents the idea that is Watchtower: complex songs that are memorable; the music is not just for showing off, it's for the listeners, most of whom are not musicians. People want songs, above all, and Watchtower has always understood this issue perfectly. Furthermore, it's not like they need to show off because it is overwhelmingly clear that they have ridiculous skills. The songs need not be super long, and the band has always been wise in this regard because most super long songs in metal have filler, time-wasting elements like long passages of keyboards, piano, spoken word, bass solos, repetitive structures, samples, space-filling guitar solos and other such elements that are there for pretentious purposes, not for the song. That may be cool for musicians and for the bands themselves, but it might not work for people who want music to rock out, bang their heads, work out at the gym, for working, for doing homework, for doing housework, for driving and other reasons like those that do not involve picking up a guitar and trying to learn how to play the song.
The new EP has four songs that are the regular length of 4-8 minutes and the last song is almost 10 minutes, for a total of almost 29 minutes. Watchtower nowadays keeps all the elements that made them. At the same time, there are differences that are unavoidable. For example, the formerly high singing was the pristine and crystal clear voice of a young man in the 80s, and it is impossible for that to stay the same now. The singing now is much more traditional mid to high, whereas before it was a range of high to very high. Interestingly enough, some people have observed that they like the more moderate singing; they think it's more melodic; easier on their ears, so on and so forth. Those that really loved the high vocals will no doubt be a little bit disappointed, but singing voices change with the course of time. Those who are totally attached to nostalgia will need more time to get used to the return to life of the myth. That's understandable. It's one thing to wonder about something in the hypothetical; it's quite another to hear it return to the world of the real. In time, however, the truth should kick in: this walks and talks like Watchtower; the bass playing sounds like Watchtower and nothing else; the drumming is all Watchtower; the guitar work is easily identifiable as Watchtower and would not be confused with any other band. Not only that, the singing also does sound like Watchtower and the songs are Watchtower songs, too. What else would you need to be convinced?
I, for one, am convinced. I'm looking forward to where the story goes from here. This is only book one, remember? What follows the number one?
(review by MMB)
OFFICIAL: Prosthetic Records will be releasing legendary progressive metallers WATCHTOWER’s recent digital-only tracks on LP and CD. The four tracks will be combined with one brand new song, creating the MCD, Concepts of Math: Book One, and will be released on limited edition vinyl and CD in October. Comments vocalist, Alan Tecchio: I am so stoked to be a part of this legendary jazz-metal-prog group once again! Right now we are close to finishing the tracking for the additional 10 minute song that we are adding to the other 4 tunes. This will complete the MCD that Prosthetic plans to release later this year. I can tell you that the new song is especially super cool and has that classic Watchtower sound. I think the fans both new and old will have a deep appreciation for what is going to be available from us later this year.
Guitarist Ron Jarzombek further remarked on the partnership: I'm psyched to be on the same label as my old friend Marty Friedman! Prosthetic has also been home to great bands like Gojira, Animals As Leaders, All That Remains, as well as my fellow Texans, Scale the Summit. It's nice to know we are in good company on this label. The music we'll release later this year picks up right where we left off with Control And Resistance.
WatchTower was formed in 1982 in Austin, TX and has been hailed as the first jazz inspired progressive metal band. They have released two full length albums to date: Energetic Disassemblyin 1985 and 1989’s Control and Resistance, which is often hailed as the benchmark for progressive metal and has influenced a countless number of heavy, technical bands. Control and Resistance was inducted into Decibel Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Over the years the group has gone through line-up changes, break-ups and hiatuses though the individual members have always kept themselves in the public eye. Jarzombek through his Spastic Inkand Blotted Scienceprojects has established himself as one of the most respected guitar players in the scene. Tecchio has fronted Hadesand Non Fictionas well as sang for Seven Witchesthroughout the years. His vocal range and style is unrivaled. Drummer, Rick Colaluca has been name checked consistently by the likes of Gene Hoglan and Mike Portnoy among many other drummers. Bass player Doug Keyser has an impressive list of band’s who’ve asked him to audition for them (Metallica, being one) while still being cited as a major influence from a younger generation of 4 string players.
Concepts of Math, Book One, features 2010’s digital single, The Size of Matter, along with M-Theory Overture, Arguments Against Designand Technology Inaction tracks that the band surprised fans by releasing them on all digital platforms late last year. Mathematica Calculisthe epic new track rounds out the MCD.
WATCHTOWER IS: Alan Tecchio – vocals; Ron Jarzombek - guitar; Doug Keyser – bass; Rick Colaluca - drums.
DISCOGRAPHY: Energetic Disassembly (1985); Control and Resistance (1989); Demonstrations In Chaos (2002); Concepts of Math: Book One (2016).
WATCHTOWER - Concepts of Math: Book One (album trailer)

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