Watchtower might be the antithesis of a prolific band, with two albums and an EP in over twenty years, but they show they are still alive with Concepts of Math: Book One, a five-track EP serving as a foreplay to their upcoming full-length, Mathematics.
In the years between Control and Resistance and Concepts of Math: Book One, main guitarist Ron Jarzombek has gone through a lot: Spastic Ink, Gordian Knot, Blotted Science, Terrestrial Exiled, and a solo album, as well as many guest appearances. His works on twelve-tone serialism, most important in Blotted Science and Terrestrial Exiled, have clearly made a huge impact on his compositional style and overall sound. So much so that the new Watchtower doesn’t sound like it used to, but rather a new form of Ron’s serialist composition.
That being said, the system is used less extensively here than on pieces like ‘R.E.M.’, for example, but it takes only a brief passage in a song to immediately recognize the uncanny modulations, signature of twelve-tone serialism and tone rows. ‘M-Theory Overture’ might be the guiltiest culprit in the row of suspects, and might as well be a song from Blotted Science‘s new album, even though it sounds a bit more Spastic Ink-ish.
Singer Alan Tecchio has lost some of its high pitch to the ages, and we’ve lost another signature aspect of the band. Love them or hate them, Alan’s vocals on 1989 Control and Resistance were in line with 1985 Energetic Disassembly and a hallmark of the band. Another thing that fled the boat is the frequent time signature changes. There are some, here and there, but most of the album now comprises of common time bars, which is somewhat disappointing, coming from pioneers of technical and progressive metal.
Concepts of Math: Book One is quite different from the Watchtower of the late-80’s. Thus, fans of the band, prior to hearing 2010’s ‘The Size of Matter’, might be disappointed and even feel betrayed. However, this EP is still a good technical/progressive thrash metal release on its own, and bodes well for the band’s upcoming full-length. Maybe it is a bit too Jarzombekesque, but who’s going to complain about that, really?