Watchtower – Energetic Disassembly (1985)
I remember clearly the first time I saw this on cassette. It was at the Music Man at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, VA. The cover was upside down as compared to how the majority of cassette j-cards were printed. It always struck me as odd but I always felt it was intentional, especially after listening to this album at least 100 times since I first heard it. It certainly turned my mind upside down several times.
My friends and I were pretty shocked by this one. Most of us were into thrash ala Overkill’s Feel the Fire, Anthrax, Testament etc…but this was something different. Something special even.
The album opens with a frenetic frantic pace with crazy guitar riffs, insane bass lines and hyperactive drumming. They don’t stop until the end of the album. Mix all of this with Jason McMaster’s incredible vocals that cut through all of this madness and you have a perfect technical thrash album…perhaps the first truly technical thrash album. Some may debate that one but for me, this is the first.
While I love every song on this album, my absolute favorites are Tyrants In Distress, Violent Change, Meltdown and Argonne Forest. The whole band really seems to just be together and well-rehearsed. Billy White (f. Don Dokken), Doug Keyser and Rick Colaluca just flat out lay it down on this album. Period.
I still don’t feel that this album gets enough respect although some of the major metal players loved them such as Chuck Schuldiner (RIP) and Dream Theater. Watchtower set the standard early for technical metal. Their popularity is Europe still seems to be pretty strong as I believe they’re playing one of the Euro-Metal fests in 2010. It seems that they are still pretty huge in Greece.
While Control and Resistance was a good follow-up and was partially written by Billy White, a lot changed in their sound. Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink) and Allan Tecchio (Hades, Non-Fiction) do a fine job, but the loss of Jason McMaster and Billy White took them down a slightly different progressive thrash metal path. Both albums are certainly worth owning, but I have always preferred the debut.
Watchtower is in the studio recording a new album with McMaster on vocals (!!!) and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. Hopefully I’ll finally get to see them live.
Living here in Austin, TX now, it is great to see how much that band is loved and respected around here. It gives me a warm tingly feeling. It’s also pretty incredible for me to have McMaster in my Motorhead tribute band. He’s a talented musician all the way around and bring a lot of energy to the band on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Certainly one of my musical idols.
If you don’t own Energetic Disassembly and you like thrash, prog-metal, RUSH on steroids, you need to own this one.
Just do it.
“Breakdown, warning – Nuclear nightmare, reality”
Written by The Metal Files
October 4, 2009 at 8:36 pm
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged with 1985, album reviews, allan tecchio, austin texas, billy white, broken teeth, capricorn usa, cd reviews, dangerous toys, don dokken, doug keyser, gahdzilla motor company, hades, heavy metal, jason mcmaster, non-fiction, prog metal, rick colaluca, ron jarzombek, spastic ink, ssik, the metal files, thrash metal, watchtower
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