The Watch – Vacuum (2004)

Watch_Vacuum5 out of 5 Stars!

From Italy, The Watch creates a nearly perfect replica of the classic Genesis (Peter Gabriel-era) sound on each of its albums. No other band in the world, in the galaxy, in the entire universe, comes as close. Indeed, with vocalist Simone Rosetti eerily replicating Gabriel in timbre and delivery (apart from a slight Italian accent), and the musicians duplicating the same playing styles and tones as Banks, Rutherford, Hackett, and Collins, it’s as if the classic Genesis line-up had hibernated since 1974 and, reanimated and energized, reappeared in the new century completely intact to continue where they left off, only with modern studio production techniques to aid them.

To me, Vacuum, The Watch’s second collection of tunes (and basically an extension of the band’s 2001 debut Ghost) is far better than anything Genesis ever released during the post-Gabriel years, and devotees of albums such as Foxtrot, Nursery Cryme, and Selling England by the Pound will certainly enjoy The Watch, especially after hearing this album—which I played repeatedly for weeks and weeks after purchasing it a decade ago, and still yearn to hear on a regular basis.

With compositions such as “Damage Mode,” “Shining Bald Heads,” “Out of the Land,” “Wonderland,” and the fantastic “The Vacuum,” this album is nothing short of a 5-Star masterpiece, with all of the band’s other releases (including the lone album from a “prequel band” featuring Rosetti called The Night Watch) nearly as inventive and stunning.

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The Watch – Ghost (2001)

Watch_Ghost4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Man, can any band get closer to the Genesis (Peter Gabriel-era) sound? I doubt it, and I LOVE this talented Italian group for the painstaking effort!

Each album is a pure thrill, including Ghost, The Watch’s debut release. Whereas the album Twilight, issued several years earlier from vocalist Simone Rossetti’s “prequel” group The Night Watch, wasn’t quite as closely connected to the sound of early Genesis, especially when it came to the keyboards, and also included a few influences from additional classic Prog-Rock bands, Ghost, however, with a whole new cadre of musicians backing Rossetti, does indeed delve strictly into Genesis territory, with the tones of the guitars and bass and organ and Mellotron being accurately and eerily replicated.

Indeed, I dare any Genesis fan to listen to “DNAlien” or “The Ghost and the Teenager,” for example, and deny that either track would have sounded right at home on an album such as Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, or Selling England by the Pound. Three other tunes—”Heroes,” “Moving Red,” and “…And the Winner is…”—also continue the Genesis-cloning to my great delight and astonishment. Actually, the only track that truly does veer slightly away from the classic Genesis sound, due mostly to adventurous synth settings, is “Riding the Elephant,” although Rosetti’s Gabriel-like vocals remain fully intact, therefore the song comes off as if Genesis had simply done “mild experimentation.”

Anyway, before I learned about The Watch, had some casual huckster tried to pass off Ghost as a “long-lost Genesis album from 1972” or “a collection of rare Genesis studio outtakes from 1973,” I would probably not have questioned him. But I do know better, and I pray all other Genesis fanatics will also discover The Watch and eventually savor the music in the band’s ever-expanding catalogue of releases.

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Citizen Cain’s Stewart Bell – The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) (2014)

StewartBell_Antechamber4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Back in 2014, this release came as a terrific surprise. I originally listened to The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) based only on the fact that Stewart Bell is a member of Citizen Cain, a better-than-average Progressive Rock band with a sound reminiscent of classic Genesis. But then the vocals came in immediately, and I instantly recognized the voice of singer Simone Rossetti (from the excellent Genesis-clone band The Watch) who (thankfully) pretty much dominates the album when it comes to the vocals, even though a few other singers appear throughout. Well, that sold me!

What we have here is a highly Symphonic/Neo-Prog album with four out of seven songs clocking in at more than ten minutes, and each of the three remaining tracks surpassing five minutes, thus allowing the musicians the freedom to stretch their musical muscles, exploring the boundaries of their instruments within some tracks with complicated arrangements and superb production quality. In many ways, this could have been another album from The Watch, but with some differences. Certainly the “Genesis sound” (or “The Watch sound”) is present, thanks to Rossetti’s voice, but Genesis and The Watch, for all of the typical musical complexity, are rather “bare bones” when it comes to the overall production of their songs. What makes this album different from those bands is the dense production. Not to say anything is muddied or too cluttered, but simply fuller, richer, more orchestrated—more than just the basic guitar / keyboard / rhythm section (plus the occasional flute) of Genesis or The Watch. I mean, when was the last time you heard female backing vocals on any track by Gabriel-era Genesis? Or “heavy progressive” guitar solos or slamming bass lines? That’s where the main difference lies. So imagine Genesis meets Threshold or Dream Theater, and that’s what you have here.

Nevertheless, for any fans of the aforementioned bands, The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) is an album you will likely want to experience. If you love the thought of a heavier Genesis or The Watch or Citizen Cain, one with some beefy guitar chords and frantic solos, thick keyboard atmospheres and outrageously bracing synth leads, extreme mood shifts and varied rhythm changes, along with dramatic vocal performances (all this within “Decoherence,” the five-part opening track alone!) and some “progressive bizarreness” thrown in for fun on several additional tunes, then grab a copy of this album as soon as possible. You can tell a ton of blood, sweat, and (perhaps) tears (and definitely a great deal of “heart”) went into the making of this album, so savor it. It’s a Prog-lover’s dream come true, and thankfully, Bell followed up in 2017 with “Part 2,” so the dream continues.


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