REVIEW: Watchers – Hatelife [EP/2014]


Artist: Watchers

Album: Hatelife – EP


Bound by the unshakable, indestructible ties of mortality, gagged by the world that surrounds you, you are left with one option; to watch. Watch as the Hell you’ve come to call “home” devolves into a filthier cesspit by the second. Watch as the indecencies and improprieties of man grow and grow with each passing day, while manners and motivation wither and fail. Watch. That’s all you can do, perched precariously within your prison, shunned by society and left to rot, ignored by a culture rapidly crumbling into shambles. Your life has become one of hate—a reality dictated by the bitter bretheren of Watchers, a truly dissonant and destructive Texan down-tempo quintet. With their debut EP, Hatelife, Watchers tap into a misanthropy so pure and relentless, it feels as if it is the product of an entire discography spent refining and honing their sound. A combination of rampaging blast beats and scalding riffs piece together sinfully heavy and remorseless beatdown elements that split the listener’s skull wide open, exposing their soft innards to a world of anger, hatred and disgust.

At first, society’s descent into madness and rampant ignorance seemed rapid—even lightning-like. So fast that, as you watched, even if you could cry out, or get out of your prison to act against it, you couldn’t. This speedy dissolution into chaos and mayhem is but one part of Watchers’ Hatelife. Predominantly a “low’n’slow” beatdown EP, Hatelife features portions of blistering technicality that catch the listener off guard. “The Mechanical Generation” showcases this—with machine-gun like blast beats and razor-sharp riffs that cut through the thick, acrid layers of dissonant, down-tempo heaviness that serves as the standard. Jacob Teague is more than perfunctory when it comes to the pummeling, immense percussion that dictates these stylistic changes: brooding, deep and intense toms lurch at the blink of an eye to blistering blast beats and speedy, technically immense fills. However, the perfect percussion doesn’t detract from the fantastic fretwork that accompanies it. Mark Salazar and Mason Bishop are both more than capable guitarists and waste no time in proving this to the listener—on both “The Mechanical Generation” and “Hybrid.”

Once the onlooker has time to adjust, however, humanity’s decline into the boundless pits of filth and decay that define everyday societal norms are truthfully, quite slow. These are the obvious, but masterful elements of Watchers’ assault on the listener—and are extraordinarily evident on “This Hell,” Hatelife’s introductory track. Packed to the brim with buckets full of dissonance and brutality, “This Hell” uses chugged, down-tuned grooves and downbeat after downbeat to degrade the listener. Teague’s percussion is heavier and more brooding than any other part of the EP, and the riffs pouring forth from the bass and guitars are slowed down and beefed up to match. Moments of equal heaviness dot the EP like maggots dotting a long-dead corpse—“The American Dream” among them. No matter what the members of Watchers are doing, they are always capable to smoothly and serenely synchronize and deliver a skull-crushing blow of dynamic, dissonant heaviness. These chug-laden, crushing portions hit like a shotgun, but linger and lull on like a funeral dirge, slowly lowering the listener down into their grave.

Together, the canvas of crushing, lethal heaviness and the flecks of technically pervasive musical mastery, Hatelife is a brief, but comprehensive immersion into the world of beatdown-tinted down-tempo deathcore. Both of these individually mastered elements are tied together by strong, comprehensive vocal dynamics. Steven Bell lets loose with roaring, booming lows that churn and sputter along with the low, intense instrumentation alongside shrieked, shrill vocals that fly alongside the pseudo-shreddy moments of tincturing technicality. The vocals are able to send one “mode” of Watchers’ Hatelife soaring into the next. Because of this comprehensive vocal dynamic, the brief runtime of the EP doesn’t hinder it—rather, each element is done to perfection and sutured together with the utmost care, providing an inclusive, immersive listening experience.  Due to this, listeners should not be deterred by the brief runtime, but rather, embrace it—as it means the EP can be enjoyed again and again, serving as an idyllic soundtrack to the demise of proper society.

Perched high above the cesspit of society, it might appear that the listener is a prisoner, forced to observe the downfall of society. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as, in this instance, the listener—experiencing what it truly is to Watch is placed ringside to one of the most brilliant, if not brief, down-tempo experiences of 2014’s already jam-packed cavalcade of crushing down-tempo releases. Hatelife is the guardian—and simultaneously the executioner of their peers, giving them a shining light towards which to base their efforts, but providing false hope to all of their peers seeking salvation.



For Fans Of: Traitors, Dealey Plaza, Immoralist, Prospects

By: Connor Welsh