2005 Century Media Records
01. Bastard Son MP3
03. Throne Of Lies
05. Belial's Path
06. Under Flames
07. Early Mourning
08. Battle Lust
09. Born To Suffer
When as much hype as Watch Them Die were given by Century Media upon their self-titled album's release in 2003 follows such a new band, guarding oneself with heightened suspicion is a natural response, and in the case of that album, not an entirely unjustified one. Truly seasoned hard music listeners could discern the album's transitional attributes which, aside from certain signs of future prowess, like the song (and video) "Sadist Ways," included numerous underdeveloped ideas and overly simple riffs, and a general feeling that they were still searching for an identity of their own since the material was blatantly patched together from simple, late eighties thrash, and popular, down-tuned metalcore.
With Bastard Son, questions about Watch Them Die's identity will begin receding in favor of increased recognition for their ability to create an appealing American/European thrash hybrid loosely resting on a sludgy punk foundation. This is not entirely surprising considering certain members' previous time served in cult favorites Buzzov-en among other, lesser-known acts Grimple and Schlong. Guitarists Sonny Reinhardt and Greg Valencia have wisely stopped grasping at straws in letting every style of vintage and modern metal influence them, making for a much more effective and memorable album in Bastard Son.
Blaring out from the get-go on the first two tracks, the title track and "Onslaught," are brave thrash riffs reminiscent of such timeless classics as Dark Angel's Darkness Descends and Possessed's Seven Churches, amply setting the tone which Bastard Son essentially maintains for its generous (nearly fifty-minute) duration. Interspersed with the shredding are European melodies reminiscent more of early Dismember and Entombed than At The Gates, which means the dual-harmonies don't tire nearly as quickly as would those of your everyday metalcore band picking the Euros' pockets. Also refreshing, depending which way you look at it, is the absence of embellished double-bass drums on the entire album. It gives Bastard Son the feel of a true eighties thrash album where the riffs didn't have to fight with the drums for center-stage in every song. That said, the drums are generally a tad rudimentary.
But launching themselves headfirst into the main riff and a punk beat is far from the approach taken on every track. On their somewhat epic seven-minute ballad, "Born To Suffer," Watch Them Die sound to have taken some influence from Testament's more developed "Trail Of Tears" from their 1994 album, Low. The song is also the only time that screamer Pat Vigil croons gruffly in harmony with the chorus melody, unless they are delivered by Valencia, who is also credited with vocals on the album. For the listener who infers, based on the first three tracks, that Watch Them Die take an easy out by letting two riffs ride out entire songs, "Horizon," "Belial's Path," and "Under Flames" all see solos delivered after being absent earlier on the album. Rounding out the album with a cover of Bathory's 1984 thrash classic "Armageddon" shows where their loyalties lie; a nice touch.
Bottom Line: This is a bare-bones heavy thrash album without the technical frills that distinguish the thrash genre's continuing forerunners like Kreator, Testament, and the recently rejuvenated Exodus. Rather than trying to compete at the level of those veterans' in difficult to emulate areas like soloing, singing, and drumming, Watch Them Die let their solid old school riffs carry songs over a simple rhythm section, all the while topped by up-to-par screamed vocals. It breaks no new ground, but marks enough of an improvement over their debut to be considered a solid album that will not tire nearly as quickly as most so-called metal albums being released today.