All of us at Decibel are highly popular human beings, which means we’ve never spent Friday nights sitting around inside listening to and analyzing Watchtower songs. Just kidding! We’ve totally done that, and those have been some of the best Friday nights of our lives.
To celebrate the recent release of the technical/progressive thrash band’s new EP, Concepts of Math: Book One (have we mentioned we love Watchtower yet?), we thought the time would be right to look back at five times Watchtower absolutely, without question, completely blew our minds. So here we have it: the five most outrageous Watchtower moments ever.
5. Unreasonable control
The first 54 seconds of “The Fall of Reason,” the fourth song off the band’s second album, the Hall of Fame-inducted Control and Resistance, are just to get you excited for what happens from 0:55 to 1:31, which is a maddening, swirling labyrinth of riffs and drum patterns that takes the idea of music being even remotely digestible to the average human being and throws that right out the window, the band just mashing brains and calculators alike with this ridiculous 36 seconds of technicality. And the best part is it ends and then they quickly turn around and go into what, at least for a split second, seems like a 4/4 part, the band throwing down the album’s most accessible moment after dishing out its least. We love you, Watchtower.
4. Vocal lines from the asylum
There’s something about that vocal pattern from 0:59 to 1:11 of “Asylum,” the second song off of the band’s debut, Energetic Disassembly, that is just mind-boggling. It’s slightly fingers-on-chalkboard but it’s also just slightly the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life, vocalist Jason McMaster absolutely going for it, channelling his inner King Diamond then ramping that up to a whole new level. I’m pretty convinced that the reason there’s a break in the vocals halfway through that 12-second run is because McMaster goes to levels only dogs can detect; his vocal line directly follows Billy White’s (insane) guitar riff, all of which leads the listener on a frantic technical thrash race to the next psychotic part in this awesome song.
3. Progressive paradise, Ukrainian utopia
Holy crap, the first 1:02 of “Mayday in Kiev” is what technical, progressive metal is. A shuffling, scrambling beat that none of us could ever quite successfully replicate on our knees when air-drumming along and a crazy vocal line from Alan Tecchio makes the first 62 seconds of this song, number three of eight on the untouchable Control and Resistance, an absolute pleasure. The fact that the guitar work is reminiscent of cool ’80s Rush doesn’t hurt, and massive bonus points for Tecchio muttering out the words “Soviet lies” later in this song, just in case you forgot what year it was released in (’89… firmly ’89). Also I always loved how Tecchio sung the phrase “in nearby Poland” on this most incredible of incredible Watchtower tunes.
2. Assembling disassembly
When Energetic Disassembly, dropped in 1985, it brought with it a new sort of hysteria, a manic progressive thrash that confounded right out of the gates: the first minute and 48 seconds of “Violent Change,” the first song on the album, is a fantastic head-scratcher, a great “what?” to kick off this most difficult of debuts. The electronic drum pads, the air-raid siren vocals, the sideways riffing: that’s how you start off an album. And when your M.O. is to blow minds wide open, that’s how you start off a debut.
1. What were the capsules tainted with again?
Without a doubt the greatest moment in Watchtower history, and perhaps one of the greatest moments in metal history, is during Control and Resistance‘s incredible opener, “Instruments of Random Murder.” Tecchio is delivering a true story about headache meds being poisoned with… “cyanide!” He belts out in thespian fashion. Then he takes things up a notch. You know what I’m talking about. It goes down from 1:11 to 1:15 and it’s outrageous. One delivery of “cyanide” was incredible enough but when Tecchio steps up to the plate and knocks that motherfucker out of not just the ballpark but the entire municipality with his second, legendary, “cyanide,” it’s a metal moment for the ages, and one that accentuates what we all knew already: this band is unbelievable. These four seconds prove it.