Review Summary: Musically accomplished... vocally challenging.
When Ozzy’s son wanted to piss off the neighbors during one of the episodes of “The Osbournes” he played a Meshuggah
album at high volumes. According to a recent news article, when the American government wants to torture captives and/or its own troops during training exercises they play anything from Deicide
to Barney the Purple Dinosaur. It’s a shame that none of these people seem to be aware of this album because it could torture a majority of people that hear it at almost any volume. While I’m not one of those people that could be tortured by this, I’m realistic enough to know that I’m in the minority.
Watchtower are one of the very first bands that could be referred to as “tech metal” and they have inspired countless progressive metal bands (most notably Spiral Architect
who basically emulate this band). Based on the band’s influence on current artists, you may be wondering where the intro paragraph came from and it comes from the vocals of Alan Tecchio. Through out this entire album he sings as high pitched as possible, as often as possible. Alan pushes his vocals so hard that any change in pitch immediately sounds (and is) off key. The only positive I can give the guy is that in interviews he claims that the band forced him to sing well outside of his range in order to have the vocals as high as possible; which may be true since in Non-Fiction
his vocals are much better.
It really is a shame that the vocals are going to turn so many people off of this band, because the music is awesome. The most recognizable contributor to this amazingly technical music is guitarist Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink
, Blotted Science
). If I had much knowledge of music theory I could throw out all the buzzwords that imply that his abilities are nuts, but suffice it to say that his parts are very complicated, often times changing within a split second and his solos are of the angular variety that most closely resemble something off of a Meshuggah album in that they are often very rhythmic.
While Ron is definitely a great guitar player, the rhythm section of this band are no slackers either. The truth of the matter is that their parts are generally what make this album so technically challenging. For example, if you could isolate the drums on this album it would sound like the drummer was performing an eight track drum solo. The closest person with a similar style that I can think of would be Sean Reinhart of Cynic
. Bass player, Doug Keyser (whom Atheist
once unsuccessfully tried to get into their band), adds to the chaos with his very precise and rhythmic approach to the bass. Due to the clarity of the production it is easy to hear his bass lines bouncing in and out of the main riffs creating its own rhythms and melodies independent of the rest of the music.
I won’t lie, I really like this album and have been able to eventually appreciate the vocals. Anyone who values dazzling displays of musicianship may be able to ignore the vocals as well, but for those who need an entire package you won’t be able to get through the first track. Also, the production is slightly thin which sacrifices heaviness for the sake of clarity which may turn some off as well. If you’re feeling adventurous their music is still easy to find online either to stream or through other means.