Watchtower


Energetic Disassembly
(independent - 1986)
As with their release on a label 3 years later, this is a dizzying and truly ground-breaking progressive metal album that sounds like Rush on speed and steroids. The music effortlessly hops from one time signature to another, spirals and cavorts across numerous dizzying technical riffs and changes, experiments with razor sharp arrangements, features drumming that is as much a part of the musical structure as the rest of the instruments, and offers more pioneering wizardry than you can shake a stick at. All this is somehow encapsulated in tight, short compositions that don't meander in self-indulgent musical masturbation. The sound is more thrash metal however, and lacks the traces of fusion present in the sophomore release. Even though the vocals here are handled by a different eunuch and are of a stronger and slightly more bearable timbre, they still suffer from eccentric and hideously annoying high notes and are therefore the album's major but only weak points. If you can stand high vocals in general however, you may be able to forgive or overlook this point and concentrate on the incredible music that this is. Otherwise, you may just give up in disgust - it can get quite infuriating at times. The slight lack of polish, low production and a couple of weaker tracks make this inferior to Control and Resistance but it is still an awesome, albeit flawed, pioneering classic.
Control and Resistance
(Noise - 1989)
A landmark in progressive metal, ahead of its time (released in '89) and packed with insanely complex guitar riffs and time changes, and an intricate labyrinth of drumming that even bands of today can't match. The only problems with this incredible album are the very high-pitched vocals. Often annoyingly high and sometimes bordering on the silly King Diamond falsetto style, they make it hard to enjoy this otherwise masterpiece of dizzying progressive metal. Thankfully though, the vocals are at times bearable and I must say that whether you can stand the vocals or not, this album must be heard at least once. Much more impressive than Fates Warning's Awaken album yet interestingly it suffers even more from the same vocal problem. The Rush influence is pretty evident at times, and the influence they had on Dream Theater and other such bands is even more clear. You might be thinking that with all their acrobatics and time changes you are only left with a dizzy head and a non-musical experience, but surprisingly the songs are tight, very listenable and not at all self-indulgent. They have none of the meandering quality that made Dream Theater hard to get into. The album consists of masterful composition and control and very precise playing from all the musicians. Shame about the vocals or this would have been the pinnacle of guitar progressive metal.



The Last Exit 1996-

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