Watchtower
Concepts of Math: Book One


4.0
excellent

Review

by Willie STAFF
October 5th, 2016 | 98 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The godfathers of tech metal return after 25 years of near-silence, and remind everyone why they're still on top.

In 1989, Watchtower released a landmark sophomore album, Control and Resistance, and almost nobody noticed. Worse, most the people that did notice walked away confused; resolving to never listen to vocals that high ever again. In those days, music was still much more compartmentalized and people just didn’t know what to do with this band. Broadly speaking, the band were labeled as progressive metal, but they didn’t sound like the metal-influenced bands of the time such as Fates Warning or Queensryche, and they sounded even less like the conventional 70s prog artists. Watchtower’s songs were twitchy and prone to change direction without notice, and they featured a vocalist that pushed his range into the upper stratosphere at all times. As has happened with a lot of those 80s/90s artists that were ahead of their time, the metal-listening public eventually re-discovered Watchtower and they became somewhat of a cult classic – and like a lot of those artists, Watchtower have reformed and released a new album – well, sort of.

Technically, four of the tracks have been individually released over the last six years, but this is still the first collection of new songs since 1989 – so let’s not split hairs. Instead, let’s marvel over the opening instrumental track, ‘M Theory Overture’, which finds the band picking up right where they left off, but with a few modern twists. Despite nearly three decades of aging, the rhythm section of Doug Keyser and Rick Colaluca can still weave throughout the chaotic riffs while creating rhythms that would have Mike Portnoy and Tomas Haake simultaneously impressed and a bit confused. Meanwhile, anyone that has heard Ron Jarzombek’s work with Blotted Science (featuring Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse) knows that his playing has aged like fine wine. In fact, age has not only improved his technical prowess, but has also made him much more adept and liberal with actual riffs. The biggest change, though, comes from the vocals of Alan Tecchio. Those that are only familiar with Tecchio’s work with Watchtower might be surprised by his raspy delivery on this release. Those that have heard his work with 90s alt. metal band Non-Fiction, though, will basically know what to expect. Rather than try to push his range into the piercing scream he used on Control and Resistance, he takes the modern gritty style used on Non-Fiction and simply bumps it up a few octaves; and it’s definitely easier on the ears.

I could discuss every song and highlight each subtle nuance, while also gushing over the not-so-subtle rhythmic chaos that makes up each track, but there’s just so much going on that a brief review wouldn’t do it justice. Over the past 25 years, Watchtower’s influence has been heard in the frantic bass-work of technical death metal bands such as Obscura, and the schizophrenic arrangements of many modern prog-influenced bands including Protest the Hero, but the band themselves have been mostly dormant. That changes with the release of Concepts of Math: Book One; an album that picks up right where Control and Resistance left off while integrating a few modern concessions including chunkier riffs and a more abrasive, but less high-pitched, vocal style. If you’re looking for a challenging, yet rewarding, listen, Concepts of Math: Book One is that challenging release.



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user ratings (49)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
October 5th 2016


17302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a great return for these guys. The new track is awesome, too.

Digging: Adimiron - Et Liber Eris

teamster
October 5th 2016


2025 Comments


Lol, I suck. Didn't know this band have a new album either. Jesus Christ what a year...excellent review and thanks.

Digging: Foscor - Les Irreals Visions

Shadowmire
October 5th 2016


4538 Comments


damn looking forward to this

ComeToDaddy
October 5th 2016


1611 Comments


Stoked that these guys have come back strong, ace review. Keen to give it a spin

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2016


7605 Comments


The Blotted Science (essentially, Watchtower with a different name) influence is clear in this EP.

Awesome stuff, and an apotheosis of Texan tech metal on the front page (Watchtower, Helstar).

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

Shadowmire
October 5th 2016


4538 Comments


great, blotted science is top tier

KILL
October 5th 2016


80846 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet



production any better than the single versions he released last year?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2016


7605 Comments


"The Size of Matter" is a pure tech thrash orgasm, period.

bloc
October 5th 2016


44261 Comments


The song they released was solid as hell. Like I actually wanna hear this.

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

PortalofPerfection
October 5th 2016


1991 Comments


Wow talk about of the blue...

Fucking 2016 man.

FirstStrikeIsDeadly
October 5th 2016


909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I've heard every song off this but Mathematica Calculus, hype as fuck to check it out.

Ebola
October 6th 2016


2868 Comments


I've always liked the vocals in Control and Resistance tbh. The rest of the music is weird enough for it to all work pretty well.
Great review, can't wait to check this

StrikeOfTheBeast
October 6th 2016


1311 Comments


Definitely checking this out after the storm passes.

DePlazz
October 6th 2016


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stoked for the new track.



Technology Inaction and the other 3 were/are fucking amazing.

RustCohle
October 6th 2016


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is sooo damn good.

Digging: Amenra - Mass VI

Geadom
October 6th 2016


3748 Comments


Any streams (mostly for the new song)?



Faenrir
October 6th 2016


350 Comments


Oooh i need to get this :p

Willie
Moderator
October 6th 2016


17302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The new song is longer than the other songs, but it is basically more of the same (I mean that in the best possible way). There isn't bad track on here. I haven't seen any streams yet.

DungeonBoy
October 6th 2016


3221 Comments


Concepts of Math: Book One sounds like the name of a textbook to a terribly boring intro college course. Had no idea this band was still making music, but will check!

Digging: Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

bloc
October 6th 2016


44261 Comments


Lol I always thought the same. The album name is pretty stupid tbh



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