Released: 2011, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Newly reunited Seattle thrashers Bitter End have recently reunited and re-emerged with a compilation release for Italy's cult true metal label Metal On Metal Records. Metal On Metal has done an excellent job compiling studio, demo and live tracks, extensive liner notes and career spanning photographs making HAVE A NICE DEATH a deluxe and essential tribute to Bitter End fans and record collectors alike.
"Tiny Minds" opens HAVE A NICE DEATH and instantly recalls an era of thrash born out of NWOBHM aggression, similar in feel to older Megadeth or Metallica covering "Helpless" by Diamond Head on "Garage Days: Revisited". Some killer guitar work by Matt Fox and Russ Stefanovich (who would go on to join fellow Metal On Metal alumni Midnight Idols) tear things up with some explosive riffery. "Right To Die" opens to a doomy rhythm section laying down sludgy, apocalyptic visions of gloom and dreary despair. A sharp musical contrast to the previous track "Tiny Minds". I get very nostalgic feelings listening to this kind of stuff as this particular kind of metal could have only been born of a particular timeline, namely 87-91. "Burning Bridges" sounds like a grange hall/VFW hall moshpit in progress, yet mellows briefly during the post chorus verse section before picking up the pace and assaulting your eardrums once more. "No Law" continues to deliver pummeling Bay Area inspired breakneck thrash and it is on this track that the rhythm section of drummer Harry Deariner and bassist Chris Fox are really showcased and are given the opportunity to shine on their respective instruments. "Sludge" strikes like a bloody sledgehammer in terms of overall aggression and frantic delivery. Each Bitter End track seems to have at least one breakdown section where the lead guitars get their just spotlight and this track is no exception to that rule.
The demo tracks included from 1988 are well produced and mixed nicely. You probably wouldn't even consider them demo tracks without them being labeled as such. The live tracks are rough, raw and pretty poorly captured. They do however represent an era before ProTools and digital enhancement and the like and for better or worse make a nice addition to the compilation in a completist sense.
It's worth noting that the studio tracks featured on HAVE A NICE DEATH were recorded in 1991 by one Jack Endino who would soon find himself some notoriety as a producer working with Seattle grunge acts such as Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden.
All in all this compilation was a pretty enjoyable and nostalgic spin through late eighties and early nineties American thrash metal. Don't expect anything to original or groundbreaking as Bitter End borrow pretty heavily from the Bay Area sound and at times the lyrics can be kind of goofy, but at the same time this band wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and they sounded great for what they were going for back then.