WATCH THEM DIE
"Bastard Son"

(Century Media)

01. Bastard Son
02. Onslaught
03. Throne of Lies
04. Horizon
05. Belial's Path
06. Under Flames
07. Early Mourning
08. Battle Lust
09. Born To Suffer
10. Armageddon

RATING: 8/10

Some records take on a personality of their own, and we attribute motives to them anthropomorphically. You'll hear someone describe an album by saying "it wants you to mosh", or "it makes you bang your head". Well, fair warning: "Bastard Son" from WATCH THEM DIE wants to punch you in the balls, over and over and over again, preferably with brass knuckles on, while your family watches, and cries. Put simply, this is the sound of mean.

WATCH THEM DIE are, at the core of it, thrash (and from the Bay Area, no less), and they do share some similarities (if only shared influences) with the current vanguard of Swedish bands. But these guys are from Oakland, they've done time in bands like heroin crust-filth revue BUZZOV-EN and GRIMPLE… there's just a more deranged, scummy, brick-to-the-back-of-the-head vibe from WATCH THEM DIE, even at their most musically precise. This is thrash for EYEHATEGOD fans, Confederacy of Scum dirtbags, and tooth-deficient crusty punks waiting to roll you after the Milwaukee Metalfest. It's simple, it's harsh, and it is utterly undeniable (the first two songs alone are the best one-two punch to open a metal record since "The Haunted Made Me Do It").

Maybe it's Pat Vigil's throat-scraping, bilious roar. It could be how, even playing what sounds like fist-raising "true metal" (see the guts of "Horizon", before the fast parts), they do it with a live, gritty feeling, and frequency avalanche into collapsing breakdowns right off the first OBITUARY record (or, for that matter, when they channel New Orleans sludge at the beginning of "Under Flames"). Don't get me wrong, the record has dynamics — some cool creepy acoustic passages, lots of the aforementioned rollicking ¾ "pirate metal" tempo, and an epic closer in the seven-minute "Born To Suffer". It's just that they've managed to create this furious tension even in the mellowest sections, which explodes in the "thrash parts" (wait'll their cover of BATHORY's "Armageddon" kicks in after the brooding angst of "Born To Suffer" — you'll break furniture).

Intensity is an intangible thing — some bands emit it live, and a select few can harness that lightning and put it on tape. WATCH THEM DIE have done it here, in spades. If you like the newer thrash stuff, but kinda wish that in the middle of these bands' technically precise twin-lead solos that the ghost of Paul Baloff would appear and start smashing random bystanders' kneecaps with a lead pipe, then WATCH THEM DIE is your new favorite band, and you just don't know it yet. Get on board now, because this is the kind of band that will be crawling across this country inciting violence, and if you don't seek them out, chances are they'll find you.

* And if you don't know who Paul Baloff is, you have problems far beyond the scope of either WATCH THEM DIE or this review.

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