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the founders of the progressive metal genre that later become popular by bands like Dream Theater and Fates Warning
After Jason McMasters departure, Watchtower recorded what would be their second & last album Control & Resistance.
The guitar work isnt fast like your everyday thrash but it keeps an energetic touch that I like. Also unlike your everyday thrash the riffs have less of a chugging sound. The solos are pretty damn good I must add from The Eldricth’s fast & relentless solo to Life Cycles slowed down and technical solo, its all good. As for the rhythm section its bad ass as well. The bass is very strong on this album, it serves more of a rhythm guitar than a bass in my opinion. But as I previously stated there are some issues with the percussion, its kind of drowned out by the guitar & bass. But in the parts where its audible its excellent, mostly on the cymbals, and what I mean is they have this tight tone that if you didn’t know that it was the drums youd swear the record was skipping, which I laughed about on my first listen through. But the vocals are outstanding. Alan Tecchio, formerly of Hades, is quite the wailer on this record. His banshee-esc screams fit in with the music fairly well I must say. The lyrics are damn good as well, speaking of humans slowly loosing their intelligence, & nuclear warfare.
Control & Resistance is quite the enjoyable experience and a marvel of technicality with some errors that are easy to overlook.
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Watchtower – Control And Resistance
Label: Noise International – N 0140-1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album Excellent condition.
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Progressive Metal
A1 Instruments Of Random Murder 4:06
A2 The Eldritch 3:17
A3 Mayday In Kiev 5:48
A4 The Fall Of Reason 8:01
B1 Control And Resistance 6:58
B2 Hidden Instincts 3:51
B3 Life Cycles 6:48
B4 Dangerous Toy 4:20
Inner Sleeve with Lyrics
Barcode: 4 006030 014013
Rights Society: GEMA
Label Code: LC 9066
Control and Resistance is not only one of the very best progressive thrash metal albums ever created, but its yet another example of how Noise Records had almost cornered the market on all things metal of quality in the late 80s. This album exceeds Energetic Disassembly on all fronts, both for its better use of dynamics and insane level of immersion which can actually transport the listener into the various scenarios it presents through the lyrics and music of each track. This was by no means an album I could digest all at once; it must have taken me a dozen listens before all of its intricacies converged upon me like a lattice of pulsing, electronic information.
Judging from the vastly superior songwriting, its clear some changes have been made in the years since the debut. Alan Tecchio has taken on the vocal duties here, and while he does not distance himself greatly from the style of McMaster, he is simply better at managing the task at hand. He can shriek like a harpy with the best of them, yet he restrains himself so he never becomes some awkward component of the instrumentation. But an even more profound improvement has been made in the guitar department, where Ron Jarzombek has taken over the position of Billy White. Jarzombek is sheer insanity on this release, a monster of ideas and quality riffing that had guitar maniacs’ heads spinning when the album dropped. A wealth of leads and speed picked thrash rhythms conjoin to create an atmosphere through the notation alone. The rhythm section of Keyser and Colaluca remain, and both have also tightened their performances; to stunning results. Keyser has crafted himself one of most technically satisfying applications of the bass guitar in the history of metal music, not only complementing Jarzombeks witticisms but becoming an equal. Colaluca has perfected his mix of jamming fusion and electronic fills into something one rarely heard outside of the stricter, progressive rock/fusion circles.
But, musicianship aside, even if we were to assume aliens landed on our planet for a few weeks to record this album, each with dual concentric brains and six limbs, it is the music itself which launches Control and Resistance into the stratosphere. There are so many individual riffs on this album that I must have spent hours stopping and rewinding my original cassette version to try and comprehend what was going on. And yet, the riffs are never so indulgent that they strand the thematic nature of each track outside of its performance. “Instruments of Random Murder” arrives in a wash of adventurous guitars, plopping bass and shuffling drum work that at once immerses the listener while warning him/her (oh who am I kidding, how many girls listened to this record?) that THE GAME IS AFOOT. As it begins to thrash out of control, like the section at 1:15, you can actually feel the hysteria and panic of a murder, an autopsy, and a brain being wracked to find the answers. “The Eldritch” is fast and dangerous, with more intense thrashing that threatens to explode out of the seams. The little tapping lead is beautiful, and Tecchios vocals fit like an escaped madman over the amazing flow of the verse…and yet its the speed rhythm at 1:10 that ensures you will NEVER forget it. “Mayday in Kiev” has some of the best bass playing I’ve yet heard on any progressive metal composition, and this is one of those tunes that truly sucks you into the post-nuclear disaster landscape, a smorgasboard of excellent riffing.
severe political fallout – toxic exchange of words
Soviet obscurantism under verbal attack
Abroad, outraged countries appeal for information
Met with grudging riposte, hesitant placation
At home, TASS reports no danger – nothing to fear
As deadly elemental isotopes spew into the biosphere’
That happened! And now, YOU CAN BE THERE. The opening salvo of “The Fall of Reason” has a lot of bite as it proceeds into a scintillating sequence of clinical, punctual melodic thrashing sequences. Eight minutes in length without even the remotest trace of boredom. “Control and Resistance” is another jarring composition with fantastic bass and intense spurts of mechanical thrashwork, Tecchio reaching desperate heights as his throat glares through the madness of social ineptitude and mass conformity. “Hidden Cycles” thinks outside the box functional, terminal rhythms and percussion that make Fates Warning and Dream Theater of the period seem childish by comparison. “Life Cycles” has some interesting, clean tones that evoke a psychedelic mystique (modern Cynic reminds me of this song), but the bass storms and the track soon evolves into another thrashterpiece. “Dangerous Toy” may be some offhand reference to previous vocalist Jason McMasters new gig with the lame hard rock band, or perhaps it was penned by McMaster himself, yet its another strong Watchtower tune here with some circular, bouncing rhythms and entropic bass-guitar interplay.
Control and Resistance is incredible…a work of brilliance which far exceeds many similar attempts in the decades since. Bands like Psychotic Waltz or Spiral Architect have tried, but only scratched the surface of what Watchtower had already accomplished two decades ago. Atheist and Cynic haven’t even come close. 1989 was a banner year for technical metal (Deathrows Deception Ignored and Coroners No More Color are two other examples that I enjoyed even more than this, if you can believe it), and yet this sophomore effort remains fairly timeless, despite its often dated production. And this is perhaps the only minor complaint I hold for Control and Resistance. The guitar tones are often a little thin for my tastes. When they are sharing space with the transcendental lead work, I can give it a pass, but just an inkling more power would have processed perfection. But, really, if you think this is going to be a distraction, you think wrong…because this album is a monument of possibilities, regardless.
5.0 out of 5 stars Vive l’Anarchie,
There may never be another band like Austins Watchtower. In the wasteland of hairband excess of the 1980s, Watchtower was an oasis of intelligence, talent, and imagination. Nowhere to be found were the idiotic lyrics about sex, cars, and getting drunk. The disingenious 3-chord riffs were MIA. In their place were thought-provoking social commentary and musicianship that was unheard of since the heyday of Yes. Here was a band who combined the heaviness and intensity of thrash metal with the musical sophistication of jazz fusion. Even though they wouldn’t exactly dominate the charts, they would be a role model for other amazing bands like Dream Theater, Cynic, Death, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Spiral Architect.
Control and Resistance is Watchtowers second album, after the 1986 debut Energetic Disassembly. Their first vocalist Jason McMaster would leave to join the more commercially accessable Dangerous Toys, and Hades frontman Alan Tecchio would take McMasters place. Guitarist Billy White would be replaced by ultrashredder Ron Jarzombeck. Jarzombecks playing sounded like a mad-scientist trying to create his own idea of the perfect guitar player by kidnapping Yngwie Malmsteen, Dave Mustaine, Carl Stalling, and Allan Holdsworth- then trying to fuse them all into one person. Doug Keyser was better suited for funk or fusion – Who needed him when you had bass maestros like Nikki Sixx who just strummed along with the australopithecine guitar chord progressions? Just joking – Keyser laid down a funky groove that made things far more interesting. Rick Colaluca ,in my opinion, was the Neil Peart of the speed metal generation. When so thrash metal drummers were saying, “Look at me, I can play 250 beats per minute.”, Colaluca was exploring polyrhythms and odd time signatures that Lars Ulrich will never understand if he lives to be 150. Finally Tecchio sang with the melodicism of a NWOBHM vocalist and the manic energy of a punk singer, with a healthy dose of paranoia.
Lyrically, the songs may seem a little dated because they dealt with 1980s social concerns. “Instruments of Random Murder” is about the aspirin poisonings of the 1980s. “Mayday in Kiev” is about the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and the unsuccessful and cowardly attempts by the then existing Soviet government to cover the incident up. “The Fall of Reason” is an anti-war song, a theme that was popular during the Reagan years.
Even if it didn’t exactly set the world afire, Control and Resistance came out at a time when rock music was (and still is) in desperate need of a brain transplant. It lacked the support of eMpTyV, radio, and the major labels. But what it did have was some pretty good word of mouth. People, the few who heard it, who liked the album REALLY liked it. The good word of mouth is still circulating. When millions look back at the likes of Poison, New Kids on the Block, Hanson, Warrant, and Oasis; they hang their heads in embarrassment and say to themselves, “Oh Dear Lord, I used to listen to that.” Then you have the thousands who listen to Watchtower and hold their heads high. Even more proof not to follow the hive mind.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important but not reminded album,
This album simply was ahead of its time, maybe because Ron Jarzombek is ahead of his time. Most of the complaints made on this album point the “strange” “high pitch” vocals, but if you pay attention, the harmony requires those notes.
While Metallica gave up about thrash metal , Watchtower re-created it and made it more complex and founded a new genre: technical metal.
Bands that followed Watchtower were Cynic, Sieges Even, Spiral Architect and others. The drumming is quite complicated and the bass lines remind me of Gary Willis or Jaco. In fact the only thing that disappoints me here is the fact that this album is not longer. I would listen it all day.
5.0 out of 5 stars Technical Ecstasy!,
If you are a fan of super-technical metal (Cynic, Aghora, Spiral Architect), this is where it all started. These guys only have two albums out (the first, “Energetic Disassembly”, long out of print- if you’re lucky, you can track down a copy of it on the internet, or pick up “Demonstrations in Chaos”, available through Amazon; which are demo versions of material from their mid-80s independent label release), but they are among the most mind-numbingly complex pieces of work you’ve ever heard. Say what you will about this sort of music being too cold, technical, heartless. What it might lack in passion it more than makes up for in finesse.
Basically, take 2 parts old-school Rush and one part frustrated jazz profs on crack. Add a splash of Steve Vai and a pinch of thrash on acid, and you might begin to start getting a picture of what these guys are about. Everyone in this group overplays. Lets get that straight from the get-go. The drums (Rick Colaluca) are completely over-the-top, the bass parts (Doug Keyser) sound like they’re taken right out of jazz fusion 101, and the guitars (Ron Jarzombek) are pulled straight from the Allan Holdsworth school of legato phrasing. Top it off with Alan Tecchios unbelievable vocals, an octave above where most mere mortals can hear, and you’ve got a collection of start-stop, turn on a dime, time changes, whirl-wind guitar solos, and jazz fusion combo arrangements thats enough to make the profs at GIT sit up and take notice. And, don’t get me wrong, this album rocks! Its not just a flurry of scales and technical artistry. This is definitely one of the best Metal albums ever.
5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of progressive metal as we know it.,
To put it bluntly. Without Watchtower, there would be no progressive metal as we know it now. My favorite LP from one of my all time favorite bands. I’m glad they’ve reformed!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely astounding progressive metal/thrash album. Phenomenal!!!!
Η αρχή έγινε το 1985 με το “Energetic Disassembly”. Παρά τη φτωχή παραγωγή, γινόταν ξεκάθαρο πως αυτή η μπάντα ήταν κάτι το πρωτόγνωρο για τα μεταλλικά δεδομένα. Οι RUSH αποφάσισαν ξαφνικά να παίξουν thrash/speed metal, και μάλιστα κατάλαβαν πως δεν είναι αρκούντως τεχνικοί. Έπρεπε ο κόσμος να ακούσει ακόμη πιο ακραίες αλλαγές, ακόμη πιο πολύπλοκα θέματα, να μάθει πως το fusion μπορεί να γίνει «ένα» με το metal. Να ακούσει ακόμη πιο ψηλά φωνητικά. Ο τότε τραγουδιστής τους, Jason McMaster, τραβά τις χορδές του όσο δε πάει και τρυπάει αυτιά. Ο Billy White στη κιθάρα, σου έδινε την εντύπωση πως με το ένα χέρι μπορούσε να παίζει και με το άλλο να λύνει μαθηματικές εξισώσεις. Ο Doug Keyser δένει το άτυχο το μπάσο του κόμπο, ενώ ταυτόχρονα δίνει διάλεξη με θέμα “Ο τρόπος ζωής των Δεινοσαύρων – Η καθημερινότητα του Παχυκεφαλόσαυρου”. Ο Rick Colaluca κάθεται πίσω από τα drums, και ξαφνικά παρατηρείς πως τα χέρια και τα πόδια του πολλαπλασιάζονται. “Δεν είναι λογικά πράγματα αυτά”, λες με το «μέσα» σου, “κάτι δεν πάει καλά εδώ”.
Ναι φίλε μου, κάτι δεν πάει, όντως. Και αυτό το καταλαβαίνεις πια απόλυτα στο δεύτερο άλμπουμ, του 1989. “Control and Resistance” ο τίτλος αυτού, αλλά έλεγχος δεν υπάρχει, και εσύ δεν μπορείς, βασικά κανείς δε μπορεί, να αντισταθεί σε αυτό που ακούγεται από τα ηχεία. Ο White την έχει κάνει με «ελαφρά», το ίδιο και ο McMaster. Έρχονται οι Ron Jarzombek και Mike Soliz αντίστοιχα, με τον δεύτερο να κάθεται ένα χρόνο, να μην κρίνεται ίσως αρκετά “κούκου” και να δίνει τη θέση του στον Alan Tecchio. Αυτή η σύνθεση λοιπόν κυκλοφορεί το “Control…”. Ο νέος τραγουδιστής τραγουδά ακόμη ψηλότερα (!) και ακόμη πιο ακραία (!), ο νέος κιθαρίστας παίζει κιθάρα με το ένα χέρι, και με το άλλο βγάζει ένα – ένα τα τουβλάκια του Jenga. Οι άλλοι δύο; Ο Keyser ασχολείται με τη σχεδίαση διαστημοπλοίων την ώρα που παίζει μπάσο και ο Colaluca έχει πλέον 7 χέρια και 5 πόδια. Η παραγωγή ανώτερη, και οι συνθέσεις «τραβηγμένες», μελετημένες μέχρις εσχάτων. Το ομότιτλο, το τρομερό “Instruments of Random Murder”, το «αιχμηρότατο» “Dangerous Toy”, όλα παίρνουν δέκα με τόνο. Για το τέλος, θα πω κάτι που αν δεν το πω, θα σκάσω. Όπως έγραψα στην αρχή, μην έρθει κανείς και σας πει πως οι WATCHTOWER παίζουν “progressive metal”. Αυτό που ακούγεται από τα ηχεία όταν παίζει το εν λόγω θεούργημα (όπως και το προηγούμενό τους αλλά και το πρόσφατο “Concepts of Math – Book One”), είναι thrash. Πες το τεχνικό, τεχνοκρατικό, σπαστικό, σπασμωδικό, πες το όπως θες, αλλά είναι THRASH που να πάρει. Αρκετά με την υπέρτατη μπούρδα που αναμασούν οι ιντελεκτουέλ ινστρούχτορες και ονομάζεται “thinking man’s metal”, λες και οι άλλοι είναι τίποτα ζαβά… Έλα, τέλος, πήγαινε και άκου τον δίσκο εσύ και άσε με εμένα να λέω τα δικά μου!