Watchtower - Control And Resistance [Dissonance Productions/ Cherry Red - 2021]
Originally released in 1989 Control And Resistance was the second and final album from Austin Texas four-piece Watchtower- it’s an album that blurs and blends Trash, prog metal, and heavy jazz fusion touches. And thirty-two years after its initial release is still a wonderful jarring 'n' jerking record, that’s fired up with both virtuoso passion and meaty metallic energy. Here from Dissonance Productions, part of the Cherry Red family of labels is a new CD release of the album.
The album was originally in late 1989 on the mighty German metal label Noise Records. And it’s certainly one of the labels more experimental/ daring releases, which still is wonderful brain-scrambling with its jerking ‘n’ shifting structure- with the songs often darting down sudden (largely) rewarding paths.
Watchtower started off in Austin Texas in the year 1982- at first playing as a quartet, though over the years they had a few line-up changes. The band have so had three periods of activity: 1982-1990, 1999-2010, and 2015-2016. At the point of this 1989 release, the band was made up of Alan Tecchio- vocals. Ron Jarzombek- electric, acoustic, and backwards (!) guitars. Doug Keyser- Lead, Rhythm, & slap bass. And Rick Colaluca- drums.
The album features eight tracks in all, with a total runtime of just over forty-three minutes. Each of the tracks have runtimes between three and eight minutes, and largely the song craft/ structures are rapid/ shifting. Sure these guys can play on a dime, but it never becomes too showy or noodling for noodling sake, with largely some fairly memorable ‘n’ meaty riff craft & break downs been set into most of the tracks here.
The album kicks in with the speeding-if-fairly straight “Instruments Of Random Murder”-here we find jerking Trash riffing meeting upfront ‘n’ rapidly dart bass lines, and soaring falsetto- it’s a good ease into what expect, with out going too shifting/ manic. As we move on, we come to rolling-then-darting “Mayday In Kiev”- which musically sounds like a more powered up and controlled blend of Voivod thrash-ness, and meaty-yet- atmospheric fusion- with thrash gang vocal chorusing. By track five we’ve got to the seven-minute title track- this opens with a fading in tight tolling bass lines and clear guitar mood scaping. As we move on we go from neck snaping bass-meets-Thrash twist ‘n’ dart, onto chugging mid-pace meets wailing almost power metal vocalising, sudden more traditional metal chorus singing, and some great dart ‘n’ shredding break downs that will really have your head spinning.
On the latter part of the album, we go from “Life Cycles” with its shifts between mixes of weird jerking bass lines and slight discordantly hazed clear guitars, metallic chugg meets tightly weaving bass, and more jerking thrash-ness- all topped with great vocals that move between dreamily expressive and manically falsetto. And the final track, the wonderfully named “Dangerous Toy” shifts between tight bounding bass ‘n’ thrash outs, and really head-spinning slap bass work-outs meets scalding guitar texturing.
This reissue just presents the albums original eight tracks- and though it’s nice to get extra/ bonus tracks on the reissue, I feel if there had been they would have been somewhat of an anti-climax after this album. The CD is presented in a glossy four-panel digipak- this comes with a sixteen-page inlay booklet, which features original lyrics/ credits, and a new six-page write-up about the album by Kevin Stewart-Panko.
I recall seeing ads for this album back in the day, but never picked it up, and oddly I’m glad I didn’t, as I think Control And Resistance would have been way too much for my more formal Thrash metal likings at that point. Though of course it’s great to now finally hear the album, and it’s most certainly a wonderfully jarring ‘n’ jerking ride of an album. To buy direct head to Cherry Red’s site here.Roger Batty