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Watchtower remains on the most over-the-top prog metal outfits of all-time. Their songs often came off as excuses to shred away and show off their member's instrumental prowess, and although the group remains quite obscure, they (along with Dream Theater) spawned countless musical offspring by the '90s -- Spock's Beard, Dali's Dilemma, Cairo, Ice Age, Royal Hunt, etc. The Texas-based band first came together in the early '80s, drawing inspiration from such established challenging rockers as Rush and Iron Maiden -- and featuring the lineup of frontman Jason McMaster, guitarist Ron Jarzombek, bassist Doug Keyser, and drummer Rick Colaluca. 1986 saw the release of the group's debut album, Energetic Disassembly, as Watchtower immediately built a cult following in Europe, where prog metal is widely worshipped. Just before recording sessions were to begin for Watchtower's sophomore effort, McMaster left the group to join Guns N' Roses-disciples Dangerous Toys, and was replaced with former Hades vocalist Alan Tecchio in time for 1989's Control and Resistance (a demo of McMaster singing the Control songs became a hot item in fan trading circles). The band split shortly thereafter after Jarzombek came down with an ailment that affected his hands, as not much was heard from the group or its members until the late '90s, when McMaster rejoined the band for a huge metal festival in Germany, which led to further shows opening for Dream Theater and a planned third album in the works. In 2001, Watchtower issued a collection of unreleased demos on the Monster label to tide fans over until a proper third studio effort appears. ~ Greg Prato

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