I hear people complaining about ‘the state of the UK scene’ quite a lot, and frankly, it baffles me a little. For all the fuss thats made about the latest and greatest bands from across the water (in all directions), it’s easy to forget that our little island arguably invented heavy metal. Yes yes, I know all about MC5 and Vanilla Fudge and all the US proto-metal stuff, but when it comes to it, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are ours and they, more than anyone, codified the sound and aesthetic for the next forty years and onwards. We’ve always had a disproportionately high amount of stupendous bands given our population, and sometimes it gets a little wearing, jumping up and down shouting about the UK metal scene being equal to or better than just about anywhere else and having it fall on deaf ears. Hang The Bastard are a fine case in point – their album Hellfire Reign was a huge slab of doom-tinged, Entombed-worshipping, filthy hardcore-laced metal that kind of slipped under most peoples’ radar despite just about anyone that heard it going utterly mental for it.
This 12″ (for that is in fact what it is, all shiny vinyl loveliness) should only serve to enforce Hang The Bastard‘s growing reputation as one of the UK’s best heavy bands – call them hardcore, metal, whatever you like, it doesn’t really matter. WHat’s important is how they make you FEEL, and it’s a curiously life-affirming mixture of fist-pumping, horns-throwing, headbanging pure metal joy with bleak, misanthropic hardcore nastiness that Hang The Bastard conjure up. Over the course of these four tracks and twenty-one minutes, the band rip through tremelo-picked blackened riffs, enormous chugging swinging stomp, dense atmospherics, charging old-school hardcore, stonered-out lead guitars and even flashes of Slayer-ised string-skips. Wrap this lot in a beefy, trouser-flapping analogue production and a classic thrash-style sleeve, and you have yourself a recipe for something approaching an essential purchase.
So really, do yourself a favour and pick this up – the few quid it’ll cost you is nothing next to the sheer, unalloyed glee of knowing you’ve got an excellent record from a brilliant ‘local’ band in your possession, and it might even mean they can afford to come to your town and slice your face off with these songs live. Those of you out there that bemoan the state of British metal should probably be among the first to get this and see just how wrong you are – get out from behind your keyboard, leave the house maybe, look a little deeper and this is the sort of thing you’ll find on your doorstep.