Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bitter End - Have A Nice Death

Though listed as a full length, Bitter End's "Have a Nice Death" comes off as more of a compilation of older material; at most, an EP with a large amount of bonus material. The first six tracks of this fourteen track release are the only new material but new in the sense that it wasn't released in the early 90's when it was recorded.  The other tracks are a handful of live material which would normally be considered as bonus material and the inclusion of Bitter End's four track 1988 demo "Meet Your Maker." Mostly, this release amounts to trying to get some name recognition for the newly reformed project. All the "Meet Your Maker" tracks were originally released on the average "Harsh Realities" album in 1990. At times riffs and structure point towards why Matt Fox may have spent time in Holy Terror even though the two bands are universes apart in terms of quality.

Overall, the album displays some interesting dualities in Bitter End's sound which come off sounding like a slightly more aggressive, more generic early 90's thrash version of Annihilator's "Set the World on Fire." Matt Fox's vocals are throwbacks to Diamond Head's recognizable croons as well as Alice in Chains' Layne Staley though he adds more grit and less sex appeal than Sean Harris and less grit than Staley. Chris Fox's bass playing is the high point on this album for me though. His clunky tone and clearly audible meanderings appear just moments into the awesome "Tiny Minds." Often jazzy and always precise I found myself just listening to his parts when the riffs became boring. Solos on the album are also quite enjoyable. Whether they are traded off between Russ Stefanovich and Matt I have no idea. Bitter End tend to suffer a problem encountered by practically every thrash band: talented individual efforts on display but average riffs and average songs otherwise.

A quick run through of highlights is limiting. "Tiny Minds" is the most memorable track on the album with a main riff that wouldn't be out of place on the next Enforcer album. The song's got some great licks and an emotive vocal performance. "Burning Bridges," - possibly the single off the disc - is decent. It switches between thrashy and clean parts reminiscent of Guns and Roses or Alice and Chains. "No Law" is another strong track and the thrashiest of the unreleased tracks on the album. The bass parts are out there. Chris mixes things up with some hammered out full chords during the shredding solo. At times the track sounds like something Megadeth could have used on Rust in Peace as a filler track. "Tunnel Vision" starts out with a intro that stirs up thoughts of Devastation's awesome "Legacy of Faith" and how this barely compares. This is also the closest Fox get's to purely alternative rock/metal vocals. Notable also is the live version of "Tiny Minds" which appears towards the end of the album but it's only awesome because the song is awesome and not for any other real reason.

The rest of the album just comes off as kind of bleghh. The Meet Your Maker demo tracks are alright but they don't offer much in the way of interest compared to the slightly better, more metallic and thrashy sounding versions on Harsh Realities. The title track's back and forth romp-around main riff sounds like something written during an uninspired rehearsal that everyone just figured would be worth messing around with for lack of better ideas. "Beat The System" produces a groovy stop-and-start thrash riff that doesn't really do much, even if the rest of the track isn't bad after a verse that rumbles through a "Got The Time" styled bass propellent. The chorus quashes anything positive the track could produce however with one of the most lacklusterly memorable groove  riffs I've ever heard. "Living Hell" is straight up obnoxious with it's intro. There is definitely some interesting material on "Have a Nice Death," but there is a lot of crud also. I don't know how much the disc is really worth to thrashers in this day and age, and I also don't know if hard rockers would be turned off by it's thrashier parts even though there are some good hard rock / alternative parts spread out here. It's just right there in the pack and does nothing to push it forward out of that group. Early 90's transitional thrash that doesn't seem geared to or appealing to anyone.

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