The Watch - The Art of Bleeding

The Watch – The Art of Bleeding

The new album by Italian prog formation The Watch, The Art of Bleeding, appears to have been preceded by an extremely long writing process of three years. And – a novelty – The Watch has ventured into the world of concept albums for the first time with five stories that revolve around the idea of cathartic violence. The musical themes are specifically developed to create different atmospheres in different ways, matching the lyrical content. Almost all the songs are written by singer/front man Simone Rossetti, except for a contribution from keyboardist Valerio De Vittorio. The band also decided to include a song by former Steve Hackett keyboardist Nick Magnus.

Genesis – and in particular Steve Hackett – runs like a common thread through the existence of The Watch. Not only does the Milanese quintet regularly perform early Genesis material, but their own original music is also imbued with the genes of the genre’s co-founders. That’s not to say The Watch doesn’t have its own sound, quite the contrary. With the last two albums, Tracks From the Alps and especially Seven, the trend has started towards a more pronounced signature sound. I was therefore more than curious if this trend would continue on The Art of Bleeding.

An Intro is exactly what you’d expect as the lady gets ready to leave work and head for home. Its sequel, Red, opens with heavy breathing and an ominous atmosphere, further enhanced by Mellotrons and vocals. The song is about a stalker who is (just) unsuccessful this time. Creepy, but a strong song with a recognisable coda at the end.

Another spooky song, but a bit closer to the work we’re used to from The Watch, told in just under eight minutes is the story of Gustav Abendlicht, who plans to take his own life in a grim future world. It’s an excellent storyline with ditto music, a great showcase for guitarist Giorgio Gabriel to demonstrate his abilities.

The Fisherman is an existing song, partly with a new look and feel. It already appeared on the 2009 Live album and was a regular in the set around that time. Let yourself be carried away by the sounds of the sea in this song, which actually consists of two parts: a quiet intro with flute and acoustic guitar against the sound of waves and seagulls, plus a lovely symphonic middle piece with characteristic Genesis-related sound.

If possible, even more threatening in atmosphere is Hatred of Wisdom. An intro leaning towards King Crimson with Mellotron accompaniment and distorted vocals makes way for some ‘lighter’ music. This time the subject is the fear of intelligence, in this case a woman who is labelled a witch and comes to a gruesome end. Lots of doom and gloom without trying to compete with IQ.

Howl the Stars Down is the only song that isn’t by the band itself. Keyboardist Nick Magnus is the writer of this love song that could easily have been on a Hackett album in his heyday. It already appeared on Magnus’ 2010 album Children of Another God, and it’s a little gem, edited by The Watch with love and respect.

Black is Deep is the contribution from keyboardist Valerio De Vittorio. A fine instrumental track that starts with piano and is somewhat reminiscent of IQ as guitar and synthesisers/Mellotron compete for priority. Maybe a little on the short side.

On the other hand, the concluding Red is Deep is the longest song, clocking in at just under ten minutes. The recognisable theme of Intro/Red returns and helicopter sounds accompany the story of an indigenous tribe from the islands of New Guinea fighting illegal logging. It’s one of the album’s best tracks, despite/thanks to a mini-reggae section in the middle. The listener is wrong-footed halfway through, but the song just keeps on going. Excellent bass playing by Mattia Rossetti, and a brilliant ending to The Art of Bleeding.

And what about those Genesis influences and, more importantly, the search for their own identity and style? The trio of An Intro, Red and Red is Deep in particular determines to a great extent the authentic style The Watch is currently developing. I would also like to add Black is Deep. Moreover, this time extra depth is added by the conceptual theme about the different types of violence as purification. Well done, especially to Simone Rossetti, who has written his own mini version of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway with this new album. Forty-seven minutes of excellent and recognisable 1970s symphonic rock with its own twist added. Highly recommended.

The bonus disc contains seven songs that have been released before, but feature here in new versions, partly for the listener who is unfamiliar with the old material and partly to emphasise the progress the band has made in the past period. And I have to say, it’s nice to hear those old, well-known songs once again. With the exception of most recent album Seven, all albums are represented, some even twice. I especially like A.T.L.A.S., Goddess and Tourist Trap. Of course, the influence of idols/icons Genesis is strongly present, nevertheless you can clearly hear the development towards an authentic sound. A nice gesture from the Italians, to add this extra disc.

{You can also read Alex’s interview with The Watch’s singer/composer Simone Rossetti HERE.]

01. An Intro (3:25)
02. Red (6:45)
03. Abendlicht (7:40)
04. The Fisherman (5:53)
05. Hatred of Wisdom (5:20)
06. Howl the Stars Down (3:38)
07. Black is Deep (3:53)
08. Red is Deep (9:35)

Time – 46:09

Bonus Disc:
01. A.T.L.A.S. (6:52)
02. Goddess (4:30)
03. Something Wrong (4:55)
04. The Border (4:17)
05. Sound of Sirens/Another Life (4:42)
06. Scene of the Crime (5:18)
07. Tourist Trap (5:25)

Time – 35:59

Total Time – 82:08

Simone Rossetti – Vocals, Mellotron, Synthesisers, Flute
Giorgio Gabriel – Electric Guitars, 6- & 12-string Acoustic Guitars, Classical Guitar
Marco Fabbri – Drums & Percussion
Mattia Rossetti – Bass Guitars, Bass Pedals, 6- & 12-string Electric Guitars, Vocals
Valerio De Vittorio Keyboards, Hammond L122 organ, Mellotron, synthesizers

Record Label:
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release:

– Seven (2017)
– Tracks from the Alps (2014)
– Green Show 2011: Official Live Bootleg (2011)
– Timeless (2011)
– Planet Earth? (2010)
– Live (2009)
– Primitive (2007)
– Live Bootleg (2006)
– Vacuum (2004)
– Ghost (2001)
– Twilight (1997)

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