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Watchtower - Control and Resistance CD (album) cover



Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Three stars but add another star if you are a metal-prog fan because this is a major release from a historical point of view, Watchtower being one of the founding bands of the metal-prog movement in the mid-eighties, along with Queensryche and Fates Warning.

When it was recorded, "Control and resistance" was labeled as "techno-thrash", the term thrash applying to the music here mainly because of the fast pace and Allan Tecchio's screamings. Let's focus now on the use of the term "techno" (or technical if you prefer) : if you listen carefully to this album, you will notice a high level of virtuosity in Jarzombek's guitar playing (influences include Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Morse and Yngwie Malmsteen) and numerous odd-time signatures (Rick Colaluca plays mainly acoustic drums but he also uses electronic drums to create an effect similar to what Bill Bruford did in "Three of a perfect pair" or Chad Wackerman when the latter toured with Zappa at the time "Does humour belong in music" was released). This is only once the metal-prog term was firmly settled after Dream Theater recorded "Images and Words", that "Control and resistance" felt into this musical subgenre.

This record is not very original but if you like dynamic structures and top-notch technicity and virtuosity (don't expect lyricism or emotion in their music), this is for you. Moreover if you are a die-hard metal-prog fan, this album is a must-have. It foreshadowed better things to come : Ron Jarzombek founded in the mid-nineties a trio called Spastic Ink whose first release became also a landmark, as it was one of the very first band to blend jazz- fusion and metal-prog (Cynic doesn't fall in this category as it features vocals), LTE and Planet X later followed this path.

Report this review (#31524)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Control and Resistance is one of the greatest prog albums of all times!!Many great bands of the 80's and 90's prog metal are very big fans of Watchtower. Ron Jarzomberk is incredible. He is playing like noone else. Doug on the bass. He is amazing. Colaluca on the drums is crazy. The rythm is incredible and mad. And of course alan Techio. What a sick voice!!!!
Report this review (#31525)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only a person who does truly like metal would give this anything less. This is a masterpeice and a deciding album in the definition of progressive metal. The guitar work on this album is only one of the highlights. Jarzombec uses his style of technical guitar to create some catchy thrash metal riffs as well as some intelligent solos. The next highlight of this album is the unique sound of Keyser's bass. His bass sound is incredible and adds a lot to the overall sound of the album. This band is a classic band of 80's prog metal and this album should be added to your collection if you do not have it.
Report this review (#31526)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars What do I have to say? I love that album it's SICK!!! Ha, ha, ha. No really this album contains a list of a incredible prog metal numbers EVERYONE IS A KILLER !!! I agree with my my fellow who wrote a review previous Ron is playing like mad and Alan is yelling like he's possesed or something ! And of course don't forget about Doug and Rick they are fantastic too !

A highest "five star" mark for those guys they are fantastic !!!

Report this review (#31527)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars In my opinion this album and this band have always been overrated. Ok, you can say that they play incredibly but they're are absolutely emotionless and unable to write something really significative. Bands like Queensryche and Fates Warning are infinitely better and also (instead of what everyone says) more important in the definition of progressive metal bacause we can't forget that Prog metal is also melody and not only technical thrash riffs.. So this is an album ONLY for collector/fans, everyone else can continue listen to Operation:Mindcrime or Awaken the Guardian.
Report this review (#31531)
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of cornerstones of the tech-metal sub-genre and one of its most influential, next to Cynic's 'Focus'. With their second album, Watchtower's insanely tight rhythm section added guitarist Ron Jarzombek and vocalist Alan Tecchio to the lineup. Tecchio's vocals have come in for a lot of scorn over the years, but I defend his performance here. He's insanely stretched to the limit, but consider: 1) the band pushed him to sing higher, and higher, and higher. This is documented fact. And 2), the material demands it. I mean, YOU try singing over this madness! Their ridiculously technical approach would be a challenge for any vocalist, and Tecchio rises to the challenge. He may not come up with catchy refrains as Spiral Architect's Oyvind Haegeland managed on their 'A Sceptic's Universe', but his sense of panic and hysteria sits perfectly well with the over- caffeinated tech-insanity on offer.

I admit, Tecchio does sound a little lost on opener "Instruments Of Random Murder". One of their most over-the-top songs, it serves to weed out the casual listeners quickly, appealing only to the most demanding fan of highly complex metal. Things become only slightly more comprehensible with key songs "Mayday In Kiev" and the title track (which explodes with highlights). "The Fall Of Reason" seems a nakedly honest homage to Rush, considering the Lee-like bass approach and Jarzombek's Lifeson- esque melodic figures. And if you're looking for a slightly less manic Watchtower, the ears wrap easily around "Life Cycles", a contemplative, philosophical number of relative calm, which sounds to me like Alan Tecchio's best-ever vocal performance. The players involved seem like the kind of musicians that could play absolutely ANYTHING that popped into their heads, and it's a distinct pleasure to hear them performing at the very peak of their abilities here.

The recording is tight, clean, a bit dry and cold. Holes appear in the drum sound, Rick Colaluca's brainwarping playing knocked down a few notches by a thin, papery sound. Would've been nice to hear more balls in the percussive area. Still, 'Control And Resistance' is a pleasing if difficult listen, worth every bit of the many hours you'll need to understand it. The world (or a small population thereof) still eagerly awaits the long- promised third album, 'Mathematics'. But I'm still enjoying the challenge of this relic of mad genius.

Report this review (#42510)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW!!This is the kind of music that I want to listen,play,watch,talk about.A friend of mine show me this lp saying "I prefer fates warning".He like them because they're much slower,melodic than watch tower.The moment I've heard this album I was like HEY!! this is the kind of music that I had in my mind that I"ve tried many a times to put out/compose, but didn't due to lack of musicianship or you can say limited skill. At first Iam in a state of excitement so much that I don't recognise the montrousity/profoundness of their music I just keep playing on and on.But after sometime when I listened closely in awalkman I realiezed how deep&profound their music is and not only that every part voice, guitar,bass like they wrote hands and feet is worth listening again and again.And the other reason Ilike this lp is that its so RAW .You won't find a band playing without a keyboard or something now adays. If you like prog-music with a little bit of speed montrous bass,eccentric guitar,high pitch and drums ;if you listen to this I am sure you'll get the impressions like "this can't be played by human,it must be from somewhere else"(Laughing)I'll give them not 5star but 7star...PROGRESSIVE FOREVER.


Report this review (#52018)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was a moment in technical metal that for me has still not been surpassed. One reason is Doug Keyser. The bass playing on this album is technically and melodically superb. Not quite possessing Jeff Berlin chops, but close, he winds his way through the rather chaotic nature of the song structures, providing the hook and foundation. The vocals are of course the love em or hate em issue. What many miss after hearing The Eldritch are the subtle vocal performances on may of the albums interludes. They suit the music. Jarzombek showed his Holdsworthian influneced approach and shines as well. The drumming is produced in a rather thin way but again for the time and what these crazy Texans were trying to achieve is remarkable. I still get a buzz out of listening to this. Keyser does a tour de force utilising harmonics, tapping and his extended linear lines. The album is not particularly memorable in terms of vocal melodies and hooks but this is one of my favourite pieces of music. Suitably crazy and never replicated. If it has been let me know. For me much more significant and better than Focus. The foundation of so called math-metal is here in all its grating dissonant glory.
Report this review (#56417)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
4 stars So, what is this? After the great, almost ''revolutionary'' breakthrough with Energetic Disassembly released in 1985, WatchTower a little, big band hailing from Austin, Texas, striked once again with a 40 min long album called Control & Resistance, which made even a step further in the world of Progressive music. Billy White that wrote most of the music on ES, decided to leave and so he left the band with a very demanding task to find a new ''brain'' that would lead the band on it's way. If they wanted a leader or not, the certainly got one. Ron Jarzombek, at the time shreding in a more or less unknown S.A. Slayer was a friend of Billy, and the actual plan was that Ron would just fit in for a few concerts until the band wouldn't find a proper guitar player. But things followed and Ron and the band got together so well that Ron finally decided to join the band for good, ready to share his genuine mind. With Ron in the band, WatchTower got even more progressively orientated and his significant seal soon unavoidably changed WatchTower's sound.

The album kicks off with ''Instruments Of Random Murder'', a thrashy, in the beginning but later on a great progressive piece that immediately sets the mood for the rest of the album, in fact, if you like this song, i'm pretty shure you'll LOVE the other ones. Next on ''The Eldritch''. Probably one of the best songs on the album, also very catchy and it features a great drumming performance and a great solo somewhere at 1:56. Somehow this songs just gets straight to the point. A video was also made for this song, and it's probably one of the best that I've seen in metal music (and I collect metal videos), so I very much recommend it to anyone. ''Mayday In Kiev'' talks about the nuclear disaster in chernobyl and is even catchier then ''The Eldritch''. It seems to me that the album is just progressing from song to song, and ''Mayday In Kiev'' has more of that technical/progressive ''atmosphere'' than the previous two songs but is still not exactly the true ''point'' of the album. Well ''The Fall Of Reason'' could just be it. The song starts with a nice riff that lasts for about 10 seconds and than progresses into the ''playing'' of the band. But I don't mean playing like playing the guitar, but playing, toying with the riffs, with the rhytm, and that's just a pleasure to listen to. An 8 minute masterpiece, an obligatory for any technical musician. And when it kinda reaches the highlight WatchTower strike with the title song ''Control & Resistance''. What brilliant riffs man!!! This is the highlight of the album for me, ''The Fall Of Reason'' gets pretty close but the catchy riffs and the whole structure of this 7 minute long monster just eats every other song here if you ask me. After the so-called ''highlight'' we don't get no rest. ''Hidden Instincts'' the worst (but still not even close to bad) on the album, has kinda strange, annoying vocal lines and it seems like the song is filled up with fast riffs and vocals, and even that's not bad but...I don't know, it just doesn't suit me right. ''Life Cycles'' is a nice long progressive ballad, slow and with a sad mood. Then the last one ''Dangerous Toys'' fits nicely in the end, has some annoying vocal lines some times and features some great bass work. It goes into the same bin as ''Hidden Instincts'', has some really great moments but it just isn't it.

Line-up has changed a lot (actually they've just lost and gained a new guiat player, but still, the changes are pretty big):

Rick Colacula - Drums: A great performance of tehnique, the drums are in some parts actually catchy and very memorable, I don't believe that Rick plays any simple beats for more than 10 seconds.

Doug Keyser - Bass: Bass is due to the production very audible and it shure has reason to be so, Doug variates and simply makes bass really ''look'' good, it's a pleasure to listen good bass players, and he is definitely one of the best.

Alan Tecchio - Vocals: Alan's high, shrieky vocals fit very, very nicely to this music, It's a hard work to replace a giant like Jason McMaster, who sang in the first album, but I personally prefer Tecchio over McMaster. The vocal lines are sometimes a bit annoying, especially at the high parts but that can be easily forgotten when you listen to songs like ''The Eldritch'', ''Control & Resistance'',...A great job!

Ron Jarzombek - This is the guy that wrote most of the album, and replaced the almost legendary Billy White, but compared to Ron Jarzombek, Billy White sound like George Michael to Freddy Mercury. Ron was a great guitarist back in S.A. Slayer but here, he has just overdone himself. His unique tehnique slowly led him to the very top where he is still today. He later on formed Spastic Ink where he broke the boundaries of progressive metal, and so if you'll like guitars here, this is the next stop. Without exaggeration, Ron Jarzombek is one of the best, if not the best out there, and he shows us a pretty nice performance here.

Overall, "Control & Resistance" is an album, that I can highly recommend to any fan of Technical Thrash and Progressive Metal. The "normal prog-fan" will probably have a problem with it, because of it's heaviness and high metal-approach but does this mean that it isn't an excellent addition to any prog (metal) collection? I think not.

Album rating: 8.5/10 = 87% on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#73255)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The talents of Jarzombek brought the best out in this band, allowing them to follow up their groundbreaking first album with great success. This is more or less Prgoressive Thrash, and helped to further open the door for "metal with more to offer than mindless headbaning". Here Rob proves he is one of the most underrated guitarists, with some great ideas relating to song structure and soloing.

It's not very polished, and at times it can be a bit cheesy, but what this band did was open doors for others to follow, and even so, they still made some remarkable music.

Report this review (#85590)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Watchtower have the honor of releasing the first progressive metal album... in 1985, Energetic Disassembly saw the first light of day along with a sound never been heard before... however, it had a very poor production....

Four years later, Control And Resistance came and set things right... extremely heavy, psychotic, complex, with continuously high pitched vocals spitting pinko manifests...

with one foot to prog metal and the other to tech thrash, Watchtower tested our nerves with their superb skills and crabby song structures but in the end they won the bet...

the complexity of their music and the time they released their LPs deprived them of becoming the new hot name of prog metal... but they will always have a soft spot in our hearts...

Report this review (#86059)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars As far as technical prog metal goes, this album is definitely a must have. Try to imagine Rush on speed, steroids or whatever, and you might come close to what Watchtower sounded like. The drums are insane, Rick Colaluca blending standard drums with electronic pads (like Peart and Bruford, only overboard), with an equally deranged bass playing courtesy of Doug Keyser, and what to say about Ron Jarzombek... A great guitarist blending many influences, ranging from Alex Lifeson, Piggy, Allan Holdsworth, etc., but probably more technical. These guys probably know all chords and progressions available in 'the book', and it shows. The only questionable point is Alan Tecchio's voice. High pitched and shrieking, almost all the time. But, due to the insane complexity of the music, what's a singer to do? Being able to sing and create vocal melodies in such complex songs is no small feat, and I would have liked to see anyone even try to achieve what he has done. On some songs though, he manages to sing and create catchy melodies, as in Mayday in Kiev, The Fall of Reason, Control and Resistance and Life Cycles. So hats off to him.

For the historic significance of this album and the impact it had on the metal world, and for the sheer virtuosity of every musician, fans of prog metal will agree with me that this album deserves nothing less than five well deserved stars.

Report this review (#88498)
Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Technical thrash madness! You'll get strangled listening to this album. No room for breathing between these completely mad time-signatures. Watchtower really know how to play their instruments indeed. I was browsing through the site and found this great band, then got this album. Man, I did not regret. The complex and thrashy songs really grabbed me and I fell in love with it at once. Alan Teccio's vocals may be an acquired taste, but he does a very good job on the album nevertheless, following the riffs very well too. Ron Jarzombek, who formed Spastic Ink after the Watchtower split, really shows what he's good for, backed up with Dough Keyser's complex bass playing. Rick Colaluca's drumming is excellent, though a bit sloppy sometimes, but his switching between electronic and acoustic drums is really cool to listen too.

This album isn't very original, but it's an important and influential point in the Progressive Metal genre. This album is incredible progressive and never really boring, and the hyperactive songs are all great. Especially "The Fall of Reason", which features a beautiful and relaxing, yet complex middle section, and the title cut with it's very memorable main riff. Complex, tricky, progressive and influential, that's how I would describe this one. It's not perfect, but it's not very far from it either. 4.65/5

Report this review (#89030)
Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is insanely complex and technical Metal. And speaking of insane check out the vocals. Alan Tecchio's vocals are really over the top, so much so that my cat ran like a bolt of lightning out the room after hearing Alan's high pitched screams. As difficult as the vocals are to get used to the absolutely amazing playing of the 2 guitarists and the drummer makes this a must have for Prog-Metal fans. By the way the vocals have grown on me.

"Instruments Of Random Murder" opens with hard riffs until 40 seconds in when the melody changes to an uptempo, heavy sound. There is some amazing virtuoso guitar after 2 minutes. "The Eldritch" has some impressive odd metered drumming and a scathing guitar solo. The vocals come in and i'm pretty sure the paint is starting to peel of the wall. The guitar is again incredible. "Mayday In Kiev" is almost like a tribute to RUSH and my favourite song on the album. I am so reminded of "Cygnus X-I" from "A Farewell To Kings" and a guitar solo later is so Lifeson-like.The song ends with some great riffing.

"The Fall Of Reason" is my second favourite. There are some complex arrangments in this one and some tamer vocals which are refreshing. "Control And Resistance" features lots of riffs and a cool guitar solo after 4 minutes. The vocals are really good after 6 minutes. "Hidden Instincts" is pedal to the metal all the way with a scorching guitar solo. "Life Cycles" is almost mellow with vocals that are "normal" at times. Good song. "Dangerous Toys" hits the ground running with some great bass. By the way Doug Keyser is one of the best bass players I have ever heard. Lots of riffage and mayhem. Some intricate and blazing guitar as well. Ron Jarzombek is such an amazing guitarist, and i'm going to check out his work on SPASTIC INK.

And all you metal heads need to check out this "out of control" release, it's a piece of Metal history.

Report this review (#116767)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a milestone in prog metal history

An absolute treasure for me and sure for many of you. 5 stars, essential album and highly recommended for fans of Fates Warning era Perfect symetry or later on Spiral Architect, Power of Omens and at some point Anacrusis. Techno trash i might say offers Watchtower here but with a good cantity of prog elements, they succeded not to sound like many trash bands from the late '80. Complex album with a lot of stunning pieces like Instruments Of Random Murder, great opener, in fact all the tracks are awesome. Ron Jarzombec uses his style of technical guitar to create some catchy thrash metal riffs as well as some intelligent solos. The next highlight of this album is the unique sound of Doug Keyser's bass. His bass sound is incredible and adds a lot to the overall sound of the album. This band is a classic band of 80's prog metal and this album should be added to your collection if you do not have it, a masterpiece of prog metal and why not of metal in general. Many bands from today find this album as a major influence on their music. 5 stars

Report this review (#139881)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Groundbreaking technical metal album way ahead of it's time.

WATCHTOWER are a criminally underrated and unknown band, they pretty much invented progressive metal with their incredible technical thrashin' debut 'Energetic Disassembly' back in 1985 and their follow up 'Control and Resistance' is a lot different and more refined but just as good.

The music is quite demanding of the listener, it's certainly an acquired taste as with any kind of technical music, the neck-breaking tempo changes and odd time signatures can make you go insane if you think too hard about them and you can't have technical music without technical musicians, these guys really know how to play their instruments. The drums here are great, very syncopated and thought provoking, they almost never just stick to a beat, there are always nuances and fills that go over the bar line, the bass is every bit as good, it's quite noticeable and high up in the mix which is great because it contributes a great deal both melodically and rhythmically to the music playing the role of intermediary between guitar and drums perfectly. Ron Jarzombek's guitar is something else entirely, his tone and style are instantly recognizable and his wailing harmonised solos are incredibly original are his atonal riffs and licks. Now the vocals are a bit of a sticking point for many people being absurdly over the top, aggressive, high pitched and with operatic vibrato and the lyrics usually involve technological paranoia. I can understand many people discounting the band for the vocals alone I know I did to start but I grew to tolerate and even really enjoy them in time, it's one of those things you either love or hate and if you hate it you really need to give it a chance.

This is one of those albums that is really solid the whole way through, you couldn't pick a weak track out of the bunch, the album is furious and mind bending the whole way through, there are some definite highlights though, the best track is probably the title track with it's compelling political lyrics, it's perfectly structured technicality, it's triumphant chorus and it's bitchin' solo, it's the perfect embodiment of everything that's good about the album. 'Life Cycles' is a fairly mellow song by WATCHTOWER standards and is also a killer track with a strong sense of melody which is something never lost on the guitar genius Jarzombek, even with his über-technical band SPASTIC INK. The album ends on a real high point with 'The Fall of Reason' with some great bass work a nice warm solo and a triumphant chorus yet again.

Control and Resistance is an absolute must for any technical metal fan, if you can get over the vocals then you will definitely find this being one of your favourite albums, fans of SPASTIC INK, BEHOLD... THE ARCTOPUS and MEKONG DELTA will most likely enjoy.

Report this review (#145737)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I hadn't listened to this album in years until recently but I remember at the time of it's release being enticed to buy it as the idea of a band combining Metal with the more technical Progressive elements of music sounded too good to be true. I don't think the term Prog Metal had been invented then but that is the best way to describe this band and they were certainly one of the first to do it.

However I was disappointed with Control and Resistance, not least by the screeching Vocals of Alan Tecchio which I found totally irritating and tuneless. It's not that I disliked his particular style of singing as such; Geoff Tate from Queensrhyche for example sang in a similar histrionic style but still had strong vocal melodies. To be fair to the guy though, it can't have been easy coming up with melodies for the music here, which is equally lacking in melody. There's no doubting that the band are excellent musicians but it all comes across as a bit soulless and they seem to put a greater importance on technique and making the music as complicated as possible at the expense of a good memorable hook.

I'm not going to talk about tracks individually as none come across as memorable and each one seems to segue into the next without fanfare due to the aforementioned emphasis on technique over song structure. Once it is finished it is instantly forgotten. Perhaps I'm totally missing the point here, but as Dream Theater have proved since you can still have incredibly complex musical structures without losing a sense of melody.

Anyone wanting to check out the roots of Prog Metal may be interested to listen to this and full marks to the band for an innovative idea but unfortunately it falls short on musicality.

Report this review (#150109)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Control And Resistance" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Texas based technical/progressive metal act Watchtower. The album was released through Noise Records in November 1989. It´s been a few years since the release of "Energetic Disassembly (1985)", which wasn´t normal in those days, but there have been two lineup changes since the debut, which might explain the relatively long time between albums. Lead vocalist Jason McMaster has been replaced by Alan Tecchio and guitarist Billy White has been replaced by Ron Jarzombek. The remaining members of the lineup are bassist Doug Keyser and drummer Rick Colaluca.

Stylistically the music on "Control And Resistance" is a continuation of the fusion influenced technical/progressive metal style which was introduced on "Energetic Disassembly (1985)". Watchtower have however become even more sophisticated in terms of technical skill and the compositions are more complex in structure than the case was on the debut. There´s an adventurous futuristic spirit to the project which makes it quite a unique listen. The music is rooted in thrash metal but transcends that musical description as a result of the many fusion influences, and Tecchio´s ultra high pitched screaming vocals are also more prog/power related than thrash metal oriented.

While both McMaster and White were accomplished musicians, their replacements take it up a notch, which makes "Control And Resistance" a more challenging and extreme release than it´s predecessor. Tecchio hits some insanely high notes and Jarzombek´s jazz/fusion influenced playing is virtuosic. They are complimented by the very well playing rhythm section of Keyser and Colaluca. Those two produce one jaw dropping moment after another throughout the album. While there are defined riffs and rhythms in the music, it sometimes feels like drums, bass, and guitar, are playing solo at the same time. Watchtower make it work though, as they are skilled composers too, who understand that there have to be a minimum of recognisable hooks and melodies even in music this focused on technical playing. It´s not easily accessible music, and the hooks might take some time to recognise and to settle, but it is a case of finding gold upon repeated listens.

All material on the 8 track, 43:08 minutes long album is of a high quality. Every track is a little musical journey in itself, but the material is consistent both in style and in quality. So it´s not an album where it makes sense to single out highlights. "Control And Resistance" is also a very well produced album, where each instrument (including the vocals) are given space and clarity in the mix. It´s a powerful sound with bite and edge, which compliments the aggression which the music also features. And it is important to emphasize, because "Control And Resistance" is often accused of not being anything else but a technical wankery fest, but there is actually a lot of "metal" aggression and bite featured in the music too, and it´s the combination of raw aggression and sophisticated technical playing, which makes it so unique for the time. It truly is a one of a kind type of album, which was not only groundbreaking at the time of release, but has also since inspired legions of technically focused metal artists. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#153876)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars The second album of Watchtower was released four years after their debut. Alan Tecchio replaced Jason McMaster on vocals and Billy White (who contributed to the composition of half the album) was replaced by Ron Jarzombek (who co-wrote the other half with Doug Keyser, the band's main composer and leader). I think that these line-up changes were good for the band, especially the arrival of the (now legendary) Jarzombek, who is really amazing throughout the album. Such guitar playing was from outer space in 1989. The album was voted as one of 'The Top Ten Shred Albums of the 80's' in a retrospective feature in Guitar World magazine and I really can't agree more. Jarzombek's lead bursts are magnificent and innovative for the time.

OK, this is the 'but' section. Tecchio's voice is better than McMaster's, but the vocal lines (though a bit better) are still very poor. Sounding like jazzy Metallica, such high thrashy vocal notes (some of which are impossible to hit) were not necessary for Watchtower to impress their audience. The lyrics are also a bit better than in their debut, but they still are naive and sometimes lack a deeper meaning. Self-indulgence is evident in Watchtower's music (in all albums), and this wouldn't be a problem (though really not my taste in prog music) if the result was impressive. The main thing, as in "Energetic Disassembly" is the compositional level. Even though slightly better, the songs are not attractive at all, and besides the extremely high level of the band's technical skills, there is not much left. There is though a kind of different character in the songs that Jarzombek co-wrote with Keyser (one of the best metal bass players by the way). "Mayday in Kiev", "Hidden Instincts", "Life Cycles" and "Dangerous Toy" sound a bit fresher, but I think that generally Watchtower lacked in inspiration or a really good composer.

Report this review (#300650)
Posted Monday, September 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Control & Resistance' - Watchtower (9/10)

In the 1980's, thrash was a-boomin'. As a style that already values technicality as one of its central tenants, it can be expected that the progressive variant of this would be something to behold. 1989 in particular was an incredible year for thrash metal, with two of my favourite albums of that style being released. The greater of the two was Voivod's 'Nothingface', an inventive beast of a record that felt miles ahead of most everything else coming out at that time. In fact, one of the only other albums in metal that year that hoped to compete was my second pick, Watchtower's seminal release 'Control & Resistance.' After a major critical success with their debut 'Energetic Disassembly', this colossal Texas outfit struck harder than ever with their sophomore. 'Control & Resistance' picks up what Rush started, and sets it on fire, screaming. This is without a doubt, an album that still does not receive the wide attention and love it deserves.

Watchtower guitarist Ron Jarzombek is the key here, the man through whom I discovered this album. Described as the 'father of technical metal', that label certainly is not far off, if it isn't already spot on. Although thrash is generally fast and technical as it is, there is a much greater sense of tightness and calibration to Jarzombek's shredding and riff work, then say- a band like Slayer. The music is certainly thrash, but there is much more nuance to the performance than the genre is generally used to. In particular, the vocals of Alan Techhio (a fitting name, eh?) hit most every other vocalist in thrash out of the ballpark; his vocals attack the same falsetto range as Geddy Lee, with the precision and scope of an acrobat.

The drums and bass here are marvelous, with the band as a whole constantly changing up their act and tone of the music. Although there is a fairly stable sound set that 'Control & Resistance' abides by- that being speedy thrash- there are so many nooks that Watchtower exploit along the course. The songwriting is explosive and fierce, and the lyrics take the same thinking man's approach as the music. Topics revolve around society and war, and the relationship these two concepts have with each other. Although Techhio's vocals are sure to pierce one's ears at the surface level, the intelligence invested in the lyrics improves subsequent listens.

I did not expect any of Ron Jarzombek's earlier work to be any pushover, but I was blown away by Watchtower and this album in particular. Although the diversity is lacking and over- the-top shriek of Alan Techhio is at times jarring, I cannot help but love and revere the music here; an album that sounds as fresh now as it did back then.

Report this review (#565984)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is the second album from Watchtower where they get a new vocalist. Their original singer joined the not-quite-hair metal-but-close-enough band Dangerous Toys. I'm not sure why the last song on this album is called "Dangerous Toy", but it is. The first Watchtower album from 1985 I have not heard yet, but if it's as groundbreaking as I hear it is I should investigate it. I'm really curious as to what a 'technical metal' album sounds like being released at a time when thrash metal was going through puberty. On Control And Resistance this band from Texas both sounds like the contemporary thrash of California as well as the future death metal of Florida. Although I haven't heard the debut, this album is itself ahead of it's time. The music features lots of time and tempo changes. Some finger-tapping and fast runs on guitar. Generally you can hear the bass which is not always the case with a lot of late 1980s thrash and extreme metal. A noticeable Rush influence is present. The instrumental parts are usually more interesting than the vocal sections. I don't like the vocals too much, they sound like a singer from some Judas Priest or Iron Maiden tribute band. The vocal parts remind me at times of the thrash bands Exodus and Overkill. "Instruments Of Random Murder" is generally in thrash mode but there are hints of more technical metal here as well. "The Eldritch" is one of the more traditional metal sounding songs, very much of it's time.

"Mayday In Kiev" starts off as an almost Atheist/Cynic type of jazzy metal. When the vocals arrive the song starts to sound like Overkill. Features some Metallica style start/stop playing. Nice bass playing during the guitar solo. "The Fall Of Reason" is more extreme technical metal than the previous songs. Some complex playing before the vocals start. The instrumental parts are very technical while the vocal parts are more traditional thrash with some nice melodic harmony vocals in places. A cool part with bass harmonics before it goes into a very Rush sounding section that could have come from Hemispheres. Later on gets more Overkill sounding for awhile. This is a standout track - there wasn't a lot of metal that sounded like this in 1989.

You can listen to the title track here on PA. It opens with a jazzy bassline and some chorused guitar along with a sci-fi sound on synth. Then it goes into some great tech metal...almost sounds like a mix of Anthrax and Return To Forever. The vocal parts sound like Exodus/Overkill. This track keeps changing and is one of the highlights of the album. The vocal parts of "Hidden Instincts" are again in Exodus/Overkill territory. The instrumental sections are much more technical and interesting. The bass work really stands out here. "Life Cycles" is more melodic than the other tracks. Features some nice chorused guitar. Parts of the song foreshadow what Death/Atheist/Cynic would be doing in the early 1990s.

That's the only song where I actually like the vocals (sometimes). Speaking of vocals and vocalists, here comes that "Dangerous Toy" song, sounding nothing like the band it shares its name with. Great thrash meets technical extreme metal although the vocal parts still have a Exodus/Overkill vibe to them. Control And Resistance is sort of a 'missing link' between what came before and what came after when it comes to the more extreme and non-mainstream side of metal. It sounds dated and current at the same time. Maybe not the best tech/extreme prog metal album but one of the more important ones. 4 stars.

Report this review (#784543)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Watchtower is a progressive/technical metal band formed in Austin (TX) in 1982. Although they they did not reach the notoriety of other groups such as Coroner or Atheist, they also had some importance for the formation of the typical sound of a certain technical metal influenced by progressive music, characterized by high technical quality, complicated compositions, odd signatures, more or less complex lyrics, and are listed among their influences by bands likes Dream Theater. If their debut album, Energetic Disassembly, was already a good example of all of this, Control and Resistance fully earns the title of one of the most important works of the genre. Inspired songwriting, excellent technique and , not less important, very good production. The disc runs smoothly for all its 43 minutes without boring. Instrumentally, in addition to the obvious approval of the guitar work of Ron Jarzombek, a special praise to Alan Tecchio and Rick Colaluca, vocals and drums, respectively, the authors of intense vocal lines and inspired and effective percussion. After this album, the band split up, then reunited in 1999. Some members of the group continued their activities with other musical projects during the period of separation, but only Ron Jarzombek, with Spastic Ink, remained in progressive scene. Now they're still active with the original lineup, but without the support of Alan Tecchio.

Vote: full 4 stars.

Report this review (#793288)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm a big Jarzombek fan so I'll be blunt but fair, because this is a really very good record. Aside from the fact that the old-school British metal of Maiden and Priest is unmistakably present (it was '89 after all), Ron Jarzombek hadn't quite arrived as the tech demon he'd soon become, and the ground rhythms are generally textbook and derivative, there is much here to admire and appreciate. Particularly at the time. "Extreme Tech" didn't nominally exist yet and the heaviest tech we were getting was from Voivod and a tiny number of others. So there is no doubt this Texas band and Control and Resistance's material and odd fascination with Soviet imagery were important, to say the least. Not as extraordinarily complex and unique as Jarz's later work with Spastic Ink or Blotted Science, but impressive by almost any standard.

Grim 'Instruments of Random Murder' and similar 'The Eldritch' are okay but nothing to write home about, though Alan Tecchio's Dickinsonian highs and phrasing navigate the vivacissimos nicely. More interesting is 'Mayday in Kiev' where the preoccupation with Bolshevism starts to emerge complete with angry mobs in the streets and sweet little self-harmonies from Jarz woven in to the smart chord progressions. This stride is kept for very nice and imperceptibly jazzy 'The Fall of Reason' featuring a squealer from Ron, followed by the solid title cut, companion piece 'Hidden Instincts', vaguely Rush-like 'Life Cycles', and kick-ass 'Dangerous Toy'.

Just a hint of what was to come from a guitar genius like no other, Watchtower's second is highly admirable tech-metal when almost no one was ready to either play or listen to it, and should satisfy most thinking headbangers.

Report this review (#827071)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Watchtower's Control and Resistance finds them taking the sound of Energetic Disassembly and doubling down on it, presenting a progressively-minded take on technical thrash metal whose intricate complexities would find few parallels in the metal field until the likes of Cynic and Atheist took up the torch. Ron Jarzombek's guitar performance is the key here, but for the most part the whole band pull their weight; some have complained about the vocals from Alan Tecchio, but I don't think they are bad, but they are just kind of *there* without adding or detracting an awful lot. Still, that isn't enough to appreciably mark down the album, which sits alongside their debut as a classic manifesto for technical metal.
Report this review (#1612767)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016 | Review Permalink

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