Released: 2005, Century Media
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.