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Music / Watchtower

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Watchtower is an American progressive/power/thrash metal band. Short-lived and never particularly successful in their original run, they were nevertheless cited as a major influence by numerous big names in the progressive metal genre, and as the years have gone on, their status has grown to legendary proportions as the band has been recognized as an extremely innovative act that was simply too far ahead of its time.

Formed in Austin, Texas in 1982 by Travis Allen (vocals), Billy White (guitar), Doug Keyser (bass), and Rick Colaluca (drums), they very quickly changed vocalists and welcomed in Jason McMaster. Wasting no time in getting material out, they managed to get an early version of "Meltdown" onto a local compilation in 1983, followed by a demo of the same name in 1984. Already something of a name in tape-trading circles, they kept up the momentum with 1985's Energetic Disassembly, their self-released full-length debut. Unfortunately, while the album had made waves in the underground, the band very nearly folded over the following year or two after Billy White left to pursue different styles of music (including a short-lived project with a young Bobby Jarzombek, well before he or his brother Ron had become big names); while they managed to snag Ron Jarzombek in 1987, McMaster had been approached by Pantera to replace Terry Glaze, and even Keyser felt that the writing was on the wall and auditioned for Metallica to fill Cliff Burton's spot. While McMaster ultimately failed to join Pantera, his side project Onyxx (which later became Dangerous Toys) wound up being a ticket out in spite of this, and he was gone by 1988. After Mike Soliz's brief run in his place, they nabbed New Jersey native Alan Tecchio around the end of 1989. Unlike Soliz, he managed to record a full-length album with them, and Control and Resistance dropped in 1989. Like Soliz, he was also gone in a year. After a brief run with Scott Jeffreys (Confessor), Jarzombek developed crippling hand problems that essentially forced him to quit. In the wake of all this, the band called it quits in 1990 and splintered off to do their own things; Jarzombek started Spastic Ink with his brother Bobby and Riot bassist Pete Perez in 1993, while Keyser and Colaluca joined the local hip-hop/jazz fusion act Retarted Elf.

While silent for the band, the 1990s were not silent for their fanbase. While they were a name in the underground in their initial run, they never even came close to achieving mainstream recognition. However, various up-and-coming young bands (namely Dream Theater and Opeth) had lavished praise on them, and the Internet allowed for younger fans who weren't around during their initial run to rediscover them. In 1999, the band reunited with McMaster, Jarzombek, Keyser, and Colaluca for what started out as nothing but an Accept cover on a tribute compilation but quickly turned into actual live appearances. There was even talk of a third album, tentatively titled Mathematics. Demonstrations of Chaos, a demo and unreleased material compilation, was released in 2002 to tide people over, but aside from various one-offs and fest appearances (along with reassurances that Mathematics was indeed coming), the band wasn't actually doing that much. Energetic Disassembly was reissued on CD in the US in 2004 as well, but the decade came and went with no concrete proof of new material. Come 2010, this changed; not only did they release "The Size of Matter", their first new song in 21 years, but they had also welcomed Tecchio back in after McMaster left yet again. Unfortunately, Tecchio left almost as quickly, and the band went right back into inactivity land aside from an announcement that they were looking for a new singer. Four years came and went with no activity from anyone aside from Jarzombek's work with his Blotted Science project. 2015 brought them right back into the forefront, however, as they announced that they had gotten Tecchio back and would be releasing three new digital-only songs from Mathematics before 2016 brought even better news: Concepts of Math: Book One would be coming out on Prosthetic Records around the end of the year with those songs plus "Mathematica Calculis". The EP dropped on October 7, 2016, and fan anticipation for their next move is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, by Jarzombek's own admission, they are a loosely-functioning studio collective at best that may never record all of Mathematics, let alone ever play a show again.


  • Meltdown (1984) (demo)
  • Energetic Disassembly (1985)
  • Demo 1987
  • Instruments of Random Murder (1987) (demo)
  • Control and Resistance (1989)
  • Live!! (2000) (video)
  • Demonstrations in Chaos (2002) (compilation)
  • The Size of Matter (2010) (single)
  • Arguments Against Design (2015) (single)
  • M-Theory Overture (2015) (single)
  • Technology Inaction (2015) (single)
  • Concepts of Math: Book One (2016) (EP)

The band contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Lead Bassist: Doug Keyser is a Type A, Type C, and Type D, as he is legendary for his technical ability, one of the only two constant members of the band and also the primary lyricist, and plays a very major role in their sound with his basslines.
  • Lead Drummer: Like Keyser, Rick Colaluca is renowned for his technical ability, status as one of the two remaining founders, and the role that his drumming plays in their overall sound.
  • Metal Scream: Type 4 for all of their vocalists, though Alan Tecchio is probably the most famous for his flashy and acrobatic vocal style.
  • Power Metal: A major part of their sound and probably also why a lot of early prog bands overlapped with power metal.
  • Progressive Metal: Most definitely a Trope Codifier, quite possibly an Ur-Example as well.
  • Protest Song: Their most common lyrical theme aside from philosophical explorations.
  • Revolving Door Band: They simply could not hold down a vocalist in their initial run, and this plagued them even after their reunion due to their inability to hold down either McMaster or Tecchio or find a new vocalist capable of pulling off their parts.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Instruments of Random Murder"
  • Start My Own: McMaster started Onyxx (later Dangerous Toys), which was a side project that later wound up being the reason why he left, while Jarzombek started Spastic Ink with his brother and Pete Perez, in addition to a solo project and later Blotted Science with Alex Webster and Chris Adler.
  • Thrash Metal: Another major part of their sound.