"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Watchtower - "Concepts of Math: Book One" (CD/EP)

Watchtower - "Concepts of Math: Book One" CD/EP cover image

"Concepts of Math: Book One" track listing:

1. M-Theory Overture (3:38)
2. Arguments Against Design (4:12)
3. Technology Inaction (6:20)
4. The Size Of Matter (4:51)
5. Mathematica Calculis (9:54)

Reviewed by on January 23, 2017

"Watchtower's comeback is marked by a heavy prog sound that's also stunningly technical to the max."

It's right there in our mission statement: our goal is to bring you new and unknown bands you'd never heard of before. While we've been doing that for well over a decade now and have reached an astonishing 23,000 bands in our database, sometimes the tables get turned and the readers put us onto music we hadn't yet discovered.

That was the case this year during our annual “best of” staff articles, when I discovered both Senior Fellows and Fleshmeadow through persistent fans who wanted their favorite bands to be represented in our year-end awards. Another release that was totally off my radar but brought to the light through a commenting fan was this comeback EP from Watchtower, “Concepts Of Math: Book One.”

Unlike the previously two groups, I was familiar with Watchtower before, but somehow this resurrection from the dead after a whole lot of inactive years and subsequent new release eluded us at Metalunderground, as we never received any info from the band or label.

Watchtower's comeback is marked by a heavy prog sound that's also stunningly technical to the max. There are tons of tempo and time signature changes, sometimes even mid-riff, across the five songs composing this nearly half-hour listening experience. On the vocal front expect something apart from the norm, as there's a throatier, thrashier take on the singing than the typical melodic stuff you'd expected to hear from a prog band.

Following that influence, there's a strong thrash opening to “The Size Of Matter,” but most of the release is more of the technical prog variety, like on “Technology Inaction.” That track offers plenty of flashy scale-riding that gives off a very distinctive feel while the bass line goes all funky in the background. Yes, this is pure tech wankery here, but its also entertaining wankery.

“Mathematica Calculis” meanwhile has a more deliberate, staggered pace, with a steadier beat and brief pauses in notes between each segment. About two minutes in the band add sa Latin flair for something wholly unexpected, along with some changes in vocals, with gang chants and falsetto singing.

Much like with how “Concepts Of Math: Book One” arrived, it has a very abrupt ending with a cry of “so many numbers, so little time” and then it's unexpectedly over. Just as I missed it coming, I also missed it ending! The fact that this is “Book One” gives some hope there will be more Watchtower coming though, and hopefully this isn't just a one-off reunion effort.

Highs: Prog gets a crazy technical makeover!

Lows: Some of it could be accused of being mindless wankery that's just for showing off

Bottom line: It's been a whole lotta years since a legitimate Watchtower release, and now the thrashy technical prog band is back in proper form!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)