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Watch Them Die
Bastard Son
October 2005
Released: 2005, Century Media
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Madman

2003’s s/t debut from Watch Them Die was an okay release. It wasn’t bad but I wasn’t altogether impressed. The band was raging but they weren’t writing good songs with that rage. Now two years later, Watch Them Die release their sophomore effort on Century Media called BASTARD SON.



For those who didn’t follow the band prior, Watch Them Die have been pegged as a metalcore band by many but in reality they play closer to something like “post-thrash”, thrash/groove or whatever you want to call it mixed with more of a punk influence, a bit of an odd description but I’m sure you get my drift or at least will when you hear this album. The band do have screaming vocals; vocals that aren’t unlike Mario Frasca (Speed Kill Hate) or new Exodus vocalist Rob Dukes. So coming into the album with that knowledge you’ll have a good idea whether to disregard the album and not even bother (I realize there are many out there who don’t even want to bother with this style) or to go ahead and give it a try.



On BASTARD SON Watch Them Die have picked the song writing end of things up a bit. Arguably this is album is more melodic than the band’s debut, but I would say it’s that sense of melody that gives the songs an added strength and more dimension than just amped up aggression. There are good songs this time, not just lots unbridled energy.



Open chords, drum rolls, and a slight voice over from vocalist Pat Vigil begins the album and leads into some nice dual lead work before the song starts thrashing at 0:35. A straight thrash riff, maybe a tad punky, is only the beginning of the songs changes. The build up in the pre-chorus section to the slightly changed verse riff show a lot of growth in the band’s songwriting. The way they are able to create some tension, to create seemless changes without a second’s notice gives this song, and the album in general a much more instant and lasting sense of gratification. “Throne of Lies” starts off with soft, subdued riffing along with spoken male and female vocals before heavier mid-paced riffing takes over. Things build, but they build slowly into a faster paced thrasher. Eventually the descending thrash riff at 1:53 ushers in what could be considered the true start of the song. The song gets fast but not overly so while maintaining a sense of melody that creeps up in a few of the guitar sections (pre-chorus especially with it’s fast melody based riff).



“Battle Lust” starts off with pounding drums and a simple guitar guitar riff, designed to create a lot of handclapping live. The main riff eventually kicks in, focusing on a kind of “up and down” the scale approach, something that’s a bit on the more annoying side instead of rocking though the band redeems themselves throughout the song with chanting sections (1:40-1:55) and some ripping mid-paced riffing (2:30-onwards). The song continually shifts throughout, going on longer than expected while still retaining interest through it’s over seven minute length, even if the ending melody section tends to drag a bit. “Born to Suffer” is very much the odd man out on the album. Not a ballsout thrasher whatsoever and chooses to get buy on a much slower pace with more melody and quite a bit of experimentation (at least for a band such as this).



The biggest disappointment of the album comes in its final track, “Armageddon”. This is the infamous Bathory song from the debut. I presume the band covered this as a tribute to Quorthon and I commend that but the bottom line is that this song outshines everything else on the album and the band didn’t even write it. It leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth when you find the best song on an album to be a song the band didn’t even write. Not that most bands can stand up to Bathory but seriously, when you cover a band it’s like you’re asking for a comparison…



BASTARD SON is a plain fun album. Not really any major lows but at the same time I’d argue there aren’t as many highs as I’d like. Every song is strong and rarely has something to deter the listener but there are no “holy shit” moments to be found. Will I be listening to this album next year? I don’t think so, but there’s certainly some progression going on here and all I can say for Watch Them Die is that next time they might really knock some socks off.
Track Listing

1. Bastard Son
2. Onslaught
3. Throne of Lies
4. Horizon
5. Belial's Path
6. Under Flames
7. Early Mourning
8. Battle Lust
9. Born to Suffer
10. Armageddon

Lineup

Pat Vigil - vocals
Jase - guitar
Sonny - guitar
Pat Mello - bass
Ira - drums


Next review: » Watch Them Die - Bastard Son
Previous review: » Watain - The Wild Hunt

Watch Them Die
Bastard Son
December 2005
Released: 2005, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

You know that part in PULP FICTION where Marcellus Wallace says “I'm gonna call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch”? Well, listening to BASTARD SON is kind of how I would imagine the two hillbillies felt after said meeting with Marcellus’ crew. Watch Them Die’s second release (following 2003’s self-titled debut) finds the band building upon the aggression, intensity and outright venom of that release to create a listening experience not unlike being kicked in the face with a steel-toed boot while being pummeled with a baseball bat and being forced to look at naked pictures of your grandmother—painful, potentially fatal and just plain nasty! The band’s thrash and black metal influences are immediately apparent but rather than settle with copycatting or drawing on clichés, Watch Them Die sprinkle bits of hardcore’s attitude with a dash of melodic guitar and even a hint o’ female vocals to unleash one of the year’s most punishing and interesting releases.



Pat Vigil’s vocal training must have amounted to drinking 2 parts of piss with an equal amount of vinegar followed by a broken glass chaser. This guy sounds like one nasty bit of business! His blackened rasp is highlighted by the occasional hardcore bellow that drips with poison. To call BASTARD SON modern-day blackened thrash would hardly be far off, either. Riff-wise, Greg Valencia has clearly studied up on his Testament/Exodus playbook but also pulled some all-nighters spinning early Emperor, Celtic Frost and Bathory albums. Ira Harris supplies the occasional well-timed blastbeat but mostly provides the music with a solid, steady backbeat along with Pat Mello.



The one-two punch of “Bastard Son” and “Onslaught” really gets the blood pumping with an endless barrage of snarled vocals, driving riffs and crushing beats. At certain points in the title track, simply isolating the guitars would surely have the listener’s head swirling with memories of THE LEGACY/THE NEW ORDER-era Testament and early Bathory. The impressive intro to “Onslaught” leads into a mass of speedy pacing and Vigil’s evil vocals with screams that will peel paint. After this seven-and-a-half minute battering ram lets up, “Throne of Lies” descends with a haunting guitar and an ominous spoken word intro featuring double-tracked vocals from Vigil and session female vocalist Morea Buckley. The crunching guitars that soon follow eventually flow into manic intensity. The godly Bay Area thrash influence is further felt on “Horizon,” with Vigil’s vocals and muted screams echoing the grimmest of black metal’s elite. “Belial’s Path” further infuses Watch Them Die’s chances of burning in their own circle of Hell with blasphemous, hate-filled lyrics and ungodly vocals courtesy of Vigil. At the halfway point, many bands would slip in an instrumental or a mid-paced number—not Watch Them Die. “Under Flames” begins with a doomy, Sabbath-like intro spawning out perhaps the heaviest track on the CD. Where tracks like “Bastard Son” and “Early Mourning” are quick and to the point, the back-to-back sequencing of two seven-plus minute tracks at the end of the CD (“Battle Lust” and “Born To Suffer”) tends to bog down the momentum a bit. Complete with strings, “Born To Suffer” is an interesting track and quite different from the rest of the CD but the length of these two songs after nearly half an hour of rapid fire pacing seems…just out of place. Split up and mixed differently in the overall sequence of the CD would have been a wiser choice, this point driven home even moreso by the album closer—a formidable cover of Bathory’s “Armageddon”—which tears along with a ferocious propulsion. Watch Them Die take the nefarious tone of the original and really make it their own with Valencia’s vocals on this track throwing ample horns to Quorthon’s.



BASTARD SON should have been called MUSIC TO BEAT PEOPLE BY because this CD simply rips your face off. I’m told the band’s hometown of Oakland, California is a rough place (locals in neighboring downtown San Francisco said to “avoid it altogether” during a visit earlier this year) but if the sinister goings-on that reportedly happen there have helped shape the sound of Watch Them Die, then I say break out the chains and fire up the torches! With vocals and lyrics angrier than a nest of pepper sprayed killer bees and possessing riffs heavier than Gary Holt could ever dream, BASTARD SON is testament to the fact that the Bay Area still has a pulse and the next wave of thrash is bubbling up in an acid-filled haze amongst the fog.



KILLER KUTS: “Bastard Son,” “Onslaught,” “Throne of Lies,” “Horizon,” “Belial’s Path,” “Under Flames”
Track Listing

1. Bastard Son
2. Onslaught
3. Throne of Lies
4. Horizon
5. Belial’s Path
6. Under Flames
7. Early Mourning
8. Battle Lust
9. Born To Suffer
10. Armageddon (Bathory cover)

Lineup

Pat Vigil—Vocals
Greg Valencia—Vocals/Guitar
Sonny Reinhardt—Guitar
Pat Mello—Bass
Ira Harris—Drums


Next review: » Watch Them Die - S/T
Previous review: » Watain - The Wild Hunt





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