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HELLBASTARD
HELLBASTARD
Sons Of Bitches
(Selfmadegod Records)
22:55min

What the hell am I doing listening to HELLBASTARD while sitting at my desk at my office job? Feeling like I've got one hell of an identity crisis that's what. No worries all, I'm still broke and I've got like 10 Excel spreadsheets minimized as I listen to HELLBASTARD's still gleefully anti-establishment lyrics and punishing riffs and breakdowns. I press "Pause" to answer phone calls and get a drink from a damn water cooler and I'm all "hold on, HELLBASTARD must make the boss happy etc...". This is growing up, my friends. And it looks like I'm not the only one; "Sons Of Bitches" marks HELLBASTARD's nearly quarter-century anniversary of making their meticulous brand of proto-crust, heavy-as-all-hell Metal. Compared to their earlier releases, the anger is still there to some extent, the energy, the ferocity, but seriously there's a reggae song on this album. Being on my work computer as I mentioned earlier, I thought perhaps it may have gotten misplaced from something else on here, but sure enough I heard their English accents in the background at the end. I found it slightly reassuring mainly because, they haven't let their Punk Rock or Metal (whatever you call it) sensibilities keep them from having a good time. Sure they hate everything you do: your religion, your job, your consumerism, but dammit you have a blast listening to them (pun slightly intended, there are a good amount of blast beats to be had). The song I'm referring to, 'Throw The Petrol Bomb', is humorous not only because of its reggae, but the lyrics repeat over and over "throw the petrol bomb at the neo-fascists, throw a petrol bomb at the anarchists, make them more angry, yea make them more angry, yea!". It's a wonderful sentiment that pokes fun at superficial associations people make about extreme music's ties to extremist cultures like these; anger for the sake of anger, radicalism for radicalism's sake. I imagine it must be one of the major conundrums when making politicized music; at least bands like HELLBASTARD still sound good if you take their entire message away and I think that's an important point to make. Their sound has aged well regardless of their politics. Most Hardcore bands, for example, cannot say the same thing. HELLBASTARD seems to have chilled out on the echoes in the vocals compared to their earlier releases. Their arrangements are razor sharp- their speed is relentless with punishing drums, chugging almost locomotive bass and technical guitars. There are plenty of breaks; songs come to a grinding halt to reassure that this band picks up no inertia, no energy is lost. It reminds me a lot of the good heavy Hardcore stylings of RINGWORM or the lively sludge sensibilities of ACID BATH (complete with sound samples as well). It's a good direction to focus on as the songs have become somewhat less preachy, with the exception of 'System Whore', of course. Years from now, I have a feeling that HELLBASTARD will be remembered for their music more so than for their message, but I feel like that's way better. How many protest songs do you actually like to listen to beyond what they "fought for" and whatnot? That's right, none. At least none you can bang your head to. More information at www.hellbastard.co.uk, www.facebook.com/hellbastardofficial, www.selfmadegod.com

Angelica Jannone

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