Vault Excavations vol. 8 : The Jason McMaster tapes
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Did you know that the state of Texas is responsible for patenting some of the most useful inventions in history? I'm dead serious. 3D printing, Dell computers & hand-held calculators were invented in Texas, so were Snickers Bars, Fritos and motherfucking silicone implants! But do you wanna know what else Texas invented? Technical/Progressive Metal. Indeed, the musical subgenre which was originally pioneered by four Texan gentlemen of the names of Billy White, Rick Colaluca, Doug Keyser and Jason McMaster would be born in 1985 with the release of Watchtower's Energetic Disassembly. The band's debut album was a ground-breaking record that set the bar to a new level that no one could touch at that time. The only band that would ever surpass Watchtower in terms of technicality and creativity was...Watchtower themselves. Er... well, half of Watchtower, anyway. See, half of the band's original line-up left shortly after the album was released. Billy would be replaced by a young prodigy named Ron Jarzombek and Jason would depart the band a year after. Vocalist Mike Soliz would make a brief stint with the band before Alan Tecchio integrated the band full-time. This new line-up would go on and release Control & Resistance in 1989, an album that to this day remains unequaled and unmatched. With that said, Energetic Disassembly remains just as much of an essential classic to me and I feel it should get more appreciation. It set the bar quite high and it would inspire many bands in its wake, most notably bands like Sieges Even & Secrecy. I'm still undecided as far as whether I prefer it over Control & Resistance or not and I sometimes find myself wondering how C&R would've sounded like with the original Watchtower line-up. As it turns out, not THAT different. If you're like me and have a boundless sense of curiosity, it just so happens that I've stumbled on something by pure accident that you may want to hear. I have attached the files below on my youtube channel for you to hear and make your own opinion about :
This demo is a must listen for people who've always wondered how Control & Resistance would've sounded like with Jason McMaster doing vocals instead of Alan Tecchio . This tape was indeed the band's first release with guitarist Ron Jarzombek and the last release to feature vocalist Jason McMaster whom sang on the band's debut album. Every song on this demo, except "Plastic", were re-recorded and released two years later on "Control and Resistance". Jason's vocals fit quite well here and I must say that it was a wise move of the band to re-use these vocals arrangements when they re-tracked the songs for Control & Resistance as the foundations were already rock-solid. I have come to really appreciate the rawness of this demo, and the fact that it acts as an effective way to bridge the "ED" & C&R" eras together. It does a great job highlighting Jason's performance on these compositions which has, in my opinion, as much charm as Alan Tecchio's on these tracks. Following the release of this demo, vocalist Alan Tecchio joined the band and Watchtower made history with "Control & Resistance". Jason did rejoin Watchtower in the late 90s and together they went on and released a live DVD in the year 2000. He would leave again in 2009 but it wouldn't be the end of the road for him. It seems like it is a recurring pattern for gifted musicians to release one or two album and then completely vanish from the scene. André Corbin is another great example of this phenomenon. He took part of 2 godly albums with Helstar then all we got from his end of things was radio silence for decades aside from a few interviews here and there. Jason did not ever fall into this pattern. He's a true metal lifer. Actually, he's had more bands than most people can count and his discography speaks for itself.
To this day, Jason McMaster is an highly respected veteran of the Texan old guard and is considered to be a very notable figure in the US metal scene overall. Jason has remained very prolific over the years, being involved with numerous bands such as Broken Teeth, Dangerous Toys, Evil United, Howling Sycamore, Ignator, Killa Maul, Sad Wings, Gahdzilla Motor Company & more. He has also appeared on numerous albums as a guest musician, most notably Spastik Ink, Vesperian Sorrow & Shadows Fall. He is even mentioned in Lemmy's book. Imagine that. Probably the highest honor ever! For those curious, I have attached a link to Jason McMaster's website, which I recommend checking out : http://jasonmcmaster.net/. As for Billy White, he seems to have completely vanished from the scene whatsoever. I view him as an important pioneer to the genre known as progressive metal and I would greatly appreciate it if anyone reading this could shed some light on his current situation. Whether he released other musical outputs following his departure from Watchtower or not, it doesn't matter. I want to know regardless. I do want to write a full article on him one day because he certainly deserves the spotlight just as much as Ron Jarzombek. I just don't have any information on him whatsoever to do so! On that note, I hope that you enjoyed what you heard and read. All hail the Watchtower and hail Texas technical metal! Written by Phil Tougas // The Vault Visit my youtube channel here