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4.19 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1989


1. Instruments Of Random Murder (4:06)
2. The Eldritch (3:16)
3. Mayday In Kiev (5:47)
4. The Fall Of Reason (8:01)
5. Control And Resistance (6:58)
6. Hidden Instincts (3:51)
7. Life Cycles (6:47)
8. Dangerous Toy (4:19)

Total Time 43:08


- Alan Tecchio / Vocals
- Ron Jarzombek / Guitars
- Doug Keyser / Bass
- Rick Colaluca / Drums

About this release

Noise Records
November 1989

Thanks to Stooge, Lynx33 for the updates


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Watchtower's Control and Resistance finds them taking the sound of Energetic Disassembly and doubling down on it, presenting a progressively-minded take on technical thrash metal whose intricate complexities would find few parallels in the metal field until the likes of Cynic and Atheist took up the torch. Ron Jarzombek's guitar performance is the key here, but for the most part the whole band pull their weight; some have complained about the vocals from Alan Tecchio, but I don't think they are bad, but they are just kind of *there* without adding or detracting an awful lot. Still, that isn't enough to appreciably mark down the album, which sits alongside their debut as a classic manifesto for technical metal.
"Control And Resistance" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Texas based technical/progressive metal act Watchtower. The album was released through Noise Records in November 1989. It´s been a few years since the release of "Energetic Disassembly (1985)", which wasn´t normal in those days, but there have been two lineup changes since the debut, which might explain the relatively long time between albums. Lead vocalist Jason McMaster has been replaced by Alan Tecchio and guitarist Billy White has been replaced by Ron Jarzombek. The remaining members of the lineup are bassist Doug Keyser and drummer Rick Colaluca.

Stylistically the music on "Control And Resistance" is a continuation of the fusion influenced technical/progressive metal style which was introduced on "Energetic Disassembly (1985)". Watchtower have however become even more sophisticated in terms of technical skill and the compositions are more complex in structure than the case was on the debut. There´s an adventurous futuristic spirit to the project which makes it quite a unique listen. The music is rooted in thrash metal but transcends that musical description as a result of the many fusion influences, and Tecchio´s ultra high pitched screaming vocals are also more prog/power related than thrash metal oriented.

While both McMaster and White were accomplished musicians, their replacements take it up a notch, which makes "Control And Resistance" a more challenging and extreme release than it´s predecessor. Tecchio hits some insanely high notes and Jarzombek´s jazz/fusion influenced playing is virtuosic. They are complimented by the very well playing rhythm section of Keyser and Colaluca. Those two produce one jaw dropping moment after another throughout the album. While there are defined riffs and rhythms in the music, it sometimes feels like drums, bass, and guitar, are playing solo at the same time. Watchtower make it work though, as they are skilled composers too, who understand that there have to be a minimum of recognisable hooks and melodies even in music this focused on technical playing. It´s not easily accessible music, and the hooks might take some time to recognise and to settle, but it is a case of finding gold upon repeated listens.

All material on the 8 track, 43:08 minutes long album is of a high quality. Every track is a little musical journey in itself, but the material is consistent both in style and in quality. So it´s not an album where it makes sense to single out highlights. "Control And Resistance" is also a very well produced album, where each instrument (including the vocals) are given space and clarity in the mix. It´s a powerful sound with bite and edge, which compliments the aggression which the music also features. And it is important to emphasize, because "Control And Resistance" is often accused of not being anything else but a technical wankery fest, but there is actually a lot of "metal" aggression and bite featured in the music too, and it´s the combination of raw aggression and sophisticated technical playing, which makes it so unique for the time. It truly is a one of a kind type of album, which was not only groundbreaking at the time of release, but has also since inspired legions of technically focused metal artists. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
I hadn't listened to this album in years until recently but I remember at the time of it's release being enticed to buy it as the idea of a band combining Metal with the more technical Progressive elements of music sounded too good to be true. I don't think the term Prog Metal had been invented then but that is the best way to describe this band and they were certainly one of the first to do it. However I was disappointed with Control and Resistance, not least by the screeching Vocals of Alan Tecchio which I found totally irritating and tuneless. It's not that I disliked his particular style of singing as such; Geoff Tate from Queensrhyche for example sang in a similar histrionic style but still had strong vocal melodies. To be fair to the guy though, it can't have been easy coming up with melodies for the music here, which is equally lacking in melody. There's no doubting that the band are excellent musicians but it all comes across as a bit soulless and they seem to put a greater importance on technique and making the music as complicated as possible at the expense of a good memorable hook.

I'm not going to talk about tracks individually as none come across as memorable and each one seems to segue into the next without fanfare due to the aforementioned emphasis on technique over song structure. Once it is finished it is instantly forgotten. Perhaps I'm totally missing the point here, but as many others have proved since you can still have incredibly complex musical structures without losing a sense of melody.

Anyone wanting to check out the roots of Prog Metal may be interested to listen to this and full marks to the band for an innovative idea but unfortunately it falls short on musicality.
Conor Fynes
'Control & Resistance' - Watchtower (9/10)

In the 1980's, thrash was a-boomin'. As a style that already values technicality as one of its central tenants, it can be expected that the progressive variant of this would be something to behold. 1989 in particular was an incredible year for thrash metal, with two of my favourite albums of that style being released. The greater of the two was Voivod's 'Nothingface', an inventive beast of a record that felt miles ahead of most everything else coming out at that time. In fact, one of the only other albums in metal that year that hoped to compete was my second pick, Watchtower's seminal release 'Control & Resistance.' After a major critical success with their debut 'Energetic Disassembly', this colossal Texas outfit struck harder than ever with their sophomore. 'Control & Resistance' picks up what Rush started, and sets it on fire, screaming. This is without a doubt, an album that still does not receive the wide attention and love it deserves.

Watchtower guitarist Ron Jarzombek is the key here, the man through whom I discovered this album. Described as the 'father of technical metal', that label certainly is not far off, if it isn't already spot on. Although thrash is generally fast and technical as it is, there is a much greater sense of tightness and calibration to Jarzombek's shredding and riff work, then say- a band like Slayer. The music is certainly thrash, but there is much more nuance to the performance than the genre is generally used to. In particular, the vocals of Alan Techhio (a fitting name, eh?) hit most every other vocalist in thrash out of the ballpark; his vocals attack the same falsetto range as Geddy Lee, with the precision and scope of an acrobat.

The drums and bass here are marvelous, with the band as a whole constantly changing up their act and tone of the music. Although there is a fairly stable sound set that 'Control & Resistance' abides by- that being speedy thrash- there are so many nooks that Watchtower exploit along the course. The songwriting is explosive and fierce, and the lyrics take the same thinking man's approach as the music. Topics revolve around society and war, and the relationship these two concepts have with each other. Although Techhio's vocals are sure to pierce one's ears at the surface level, the intelligence invested in the lyrics improves subsequent listens.

I did not expect any of Ron Jarzombek's earlier work to be any pushover, but I was blown away by Watchtower and this album in particular. Although the diversity is lacking and over- the-top shriek of Alan Techhio is at times jarring, I cannot help but love and revere the music here; an album that sounds as fresh now as it did back then.

Members reviews

True masterpiece of technical metal!I might say ULTRA TECHNICAL metal,because this album is simply breathtaking in terms of technicity and musicianship!CONTROL AND RESISTANCE is what can be called a historical album,because it changed the face of music!Even today in 2010 after more than 20 years this album is technical scarry and dangerous for any musicicn who starts to study and play any instrument!All WATCHTOWER members are here absolutelly breathtaking-Ron Jarzombek on guitar is fantastic,Rick Colaluca on drums is sensational and bassist Keyser is alien-plus the screaming Allan Tecchio on vocals-4 aces totally devoted to deliver something magical!Impossible to choose any particular song-all are fantastic musical constructions and it's trully remarcable the cohesion of the compositions ,and the technical aspect which,I repeat-it's FABULOUS!5 STARS without any other explanation !

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