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Watch, The: Vacuum

If you are in for a Peter Gabriel era Genesis styled fix, then look no further than the latest from Italian symphonic stallwarts The Watch. Vacuum is the second release after their debut Ghost hit the scene back in 2001. Previously, the band were known as The Nightwatch, who played in a similar style but had more King Crimson influences, but after that line-up imploded lead vocalist and flute player Simone Rossetti started up a new gig with Ettore Salati on guitars, bassist Marco Schembri, Gabriele Manzini on keyboards, and drummer Roberto Leoni. This latest CD is a trip down memory lane, as Rossetti and company use the early 70's Genesis format to channel their dreamy and intelligent symphonic prog rock ideas to fruition.

The quick "Hills" starts things off, a short vocal and piano number that sets the tone for the progressive bombast that is to follow. Oodles of Mellotron, Hammond, pulsating bass and drum grooves kick off "Damage Mode", a quirky and fun song that sounds like an outtake from Selling England By the Pound or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Rossetti's vocals are great, and even though he is almost a dead ringer for a young Peter Gabriel, the man is really on top of his game here, adding the right amount of emotion and theatrics to the song. The moody yet symphonic "Wonderland" features some dark guitar and Mellotron riffs, plus a searing solo from Salati that is supported by waves of dreamy Hammond organ and synths. The band gets upbeat and downright playful on "Shining Bald Heads", with plenty of intricate piano, crunchy Hammond and guitar riffs, and Rossetti's expressive delivery.

A lush and pastoral setting is created on the opening of "Out of the Land", which quickly turns to bombastic keyboard led rock, as Manzini lays the groundwork with plenty of organ, synths, and Mellotron. Blistering bass and Hammond riffs kick off the powerhouse rocker "Goddess", one of the heavier pieces on the album, but one that has many layers thanks to Manzini's wall of sound and the tapestries created by guitarist Salati. Rossetti's chilling delivery on the chorus "Voices now, voices now..." is pretty catchy and haunting at the same time. After the brief yet dark "Deeper Still", which ironically sounds more like something from Wind and Wuthering with it's layered acoustic guitars and Mellotron drenched soundscapes for Rossetti to croon over, the band launches into the ominous title track. This is the longest piece on the album, and takes many twists and turns, with Rossetti's most powerful and varied performance and pretty intense lyrics as well. Drummer Leoni pulls out all the stops on this one, flailing about like a jazz fusion veteran, and Salati lays down some nimble fills, textured chords, and plenty of bass pedals. As with the entire album, Manzini provides plenty of vintage and compelling keyboard sounds here, with the Hammond especially sounding bright and commanding, but there's also a good amount of Moog as well.

There are plenty of bands that have come around in the last few decades or so that do the whole Genesis thing, like Citizen Cain, Neuschwanstein, Plackband, Shingetsu, Metaphor, Hamadryad, and Mangala Vallis, but for my money, none give the chills and that warm and fuzzy feel like The Watch does. Sure, it ain't nothing original, but if you love early Genesis and wish they would have stayed together with Gabriel and Hackett on board for a few more years, this might be what they would have sounded like. Drink deep and enjoy!

Track listing
1. Hills (1:26)
2. Damage Mode (7:17)
3. Wonderland (7:05)
4. Shining Bald Heads (5:55)
5. Out Of The Land (6:05)
6. Goddess (5:48)
7. Deeper Still (3:24)
8. The Vacuum (10:59)
Total Time: 47:59

Added: February 12th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: The Watch Website
Hits: 2295
Language: english

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