Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Watchmen - Generation
Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock Produced By: Terry Shelton & Watchmen
Record Label: Regency Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1989 Artist Website: Watchmen
Tracks: 9 Rating: 70%
Running Time: 35:11
Watchmen - Generation

With the meaning of its name taken from Ezekiel 33, Watchmen formed in the Seattle, Washington area in the mid-eighties before releasing an eight song demo entitled Fear No Evil and placing the tapes title track on the Underground Metal compilation.  Following up in 1989 with its full length Regency Records debut entitled Generation, Watchmen plays a commercially accessible form of melodic hard rock certain to appeal to fans of Angelica, Guardian, Bloodgood (All Stand Together era), Stryper and Shout.  The exceptional lead vocal abilities of Greg Sweet bring to mind other talented vocalist such as Tommy Keifer (Cinderella), Les Carlson (Bloodgood) or even Ronnie James Dio.  Guitarist David Van Liew proves equally talented, adorning the album with an abundance of sharp sounding and blues influenced lead guitar work.  Keyboardist Kevin Anholt does a good job adding just the right amount of texture to the bands sound.  The top notch rhythm section of drummer Kevin Whisler and bassist Doug Larson, however, end up being held back by the albums production problems.
A muddy production job with slightly bass heavy sonics prevents Generation from reaching its potential.  The rhythm guitar comes across thin and transparent.  The rhythm section more often than not gets buried in the mix.  Only the lead guitar rises above the instrumentation as it should.

An effective mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards drives "Turn" forward until vocal harmonies enter the mix as it approaches a chorus with a good catchy hook.  After the song stops dead in its tracks, Van Liew follows with twenty seconds of bluesy lead guitar work.  "Turn" talks about turning from the darkness to the light:

Turn from the night
And all fears that bind you
Will drop like chains behind you, in the Light
Turn to the Light, leave the world behind you
And all the pain that hides you, in the night

Commencing to a drum solo, "Stand Strong" advances at a mid-tempo pace to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar before it peaks for a smooth sounding chorus backed by vocal harmonies.  A bass guitar solo opens an instrumental passage ending to several seconds of flashy lead guitar work.  "Stand Strong" deals with spiritual warfare:

Stand strong...fight for the Lord
See His power come down
Stand strong...Fight in His name
See those released who were bound

"Straight", with its restrained mix of rhythm guitar and commercial melodic rock feel, comes across sounding flat and uninspired.  While the song gives prominence to a noteworthy chorus, the lack of energy in the bands performance prevents it from always bearing up under repeated play.  "Straight" talks about how God comforts us in our time of need:

Still searching for the answer
To you it seems, no one's there at all
But, He hears your calling
He see's you cry
The Father longs to wipe the tear from your eye

The bluesy "Best Friend" slows the album to a near crawl.  Set in motion by a saxophone solo, "Best Friend" progresses to a mix of organ, piano and more saxophone before soulful vocal harmonies buttress its slowly moving and laid back chorus.  "Best Friend" holds up quite well musically, but it can sound a bit out of place in a mostly hard rock environment.  The songs lyrics, on the other hand, are quite good:

Though the road's been rough
You've always lent Your hand
I love You Lord, You're my best friend

Watchmen return to their top notch hard rocking form on "Breakin' The Chains".  Kicking in at a fast paced tempo, a ton of energetic momentum pushes the song ahead until it reaches an infectious non-stop hook filled chorus.  Van Liew's excellent lead guitar work comes across reminiscent to that of Joshua Perahia.

The bass guitar solo introducing "United" gives way to a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards.  Once the keyboards fade from the mix, the song smoothly moves on to a terrific groove flavored chorus that, with repeated listening, will refuse to leave your head.  One of the albums finest moments occurs when the rhythm guitar drops from the mix as Sweet delivers a passionate message about the Kingdom of God:

The time has come, to raise our fists and yell
With His power, we'll storm the gates of hell
Call back His people, take back His land
Taking His Kingdom, to every man

The bluesy melodic rock of "I Will Be There" begins in laid back fashion to a saxophone.  Proceeding to move through its verse portions at a mid-tempo pace, a blend of rhythm and acoustic guitar enter the mix in time to reinforce the songs strong commercial flavored chorus.  An instrumental break showcasing a bluesy but razor sharp guitar solo accentuated by a bluesy but razor sharp guitar solo helps put the song over the top.

Opening to an upbeat mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards, "Defenders" slows to a combination of bass and acoustic guitar upon reaching its first verse.  After picking up in pace, the rhythm guitar propels the song to a catchy chorus that will pull you in on first listen.  Van Liew complements the song with a nice aggressively played guitar solo.  "Defenders" is about being a defender of the faith:

For in the name of Jesus
All dominion is given to Him
Jesus, O Jesus has broken your bondage of sin
We're defenders of the faith and were coming to get you...

The power ballad "One Day" fades in to a mix of keyboards and strings until a piano carries its first verse, an acoustic guitar interweaving with the piano as the song reaches a very fine melodic flavored chorus.  Van Liew tops things off with twenty seconds of crisp lead guitar work.  "One Day" points to the person of Christ:

The blood flowed down His cheek
His body torn, bruised and week
He cried out forgive them
One day, we will see Him face to face
His ways, we will be like them
One day, we will feel His tender grace
As the Fathers hand is reaching out to you

I might characterize Generation as a strong album musically that showcases the bands first-rate musicianship and affinity for writing a song with a good catchy hook.  While tracks like "Turn", "Stand Strong", "United" and "Defenders" all stand out with noteworthy melodies, others such as "Straight" and "Best Friend" display the bands lack of experience.  The albums weak production, at the same time, proves a significant detracting factor.  Give Watchmen ten good songs and put a capable producer in their corner like David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) and I can see it recording a standout sophomore effort.  Unfortunately, it never happened in that following the release of Generation Watchmen was never heard from again. 

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Turn” (3:42, “Stand Strong” (3:53), “Straight” (3:31), “Best Friend” (4:33), “Breakin’ The Chains” (3:19), “United” (3:46), “I Will Be There” (4:27), “Defenders” (3:51), “One Day” (4:07)

Greg Sweet – Lead Vocals
Dave Van Liew – Guitars
Kevin Anholt - Keyboards
Doug Larson – Bass
Kevin Whisler – Drums & Percussion

Guest Musicians
Brook Lizotte - Keyboards

Also Reviewed: Various Artists - Underground Metal

Reference List
"Raising Up Standards With Watchmen." Heaven's Metal 21 (1989): 10-12.


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