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OneMetal.com music REVIEW: Hang The Bastard – Sex in the Seventh Circle

Hang The Bastard

Hang The Bastard - Sex in the Seventh Circle Album ArtworkNot only a popular slogan for anti-Tory protesters, Hang The Bastard is also a London-based stoner rock/doom metal/sludge/[insert dirty, grimy sub-genre here] band. After releasing their debut album Hellfire Reign in 2010 to widespread critical acclaim, they solidified their reputation as being among the UK’s premier groove masters with 2012’s follow-up eponymous EP. All down-tuned guitars and grinding tempos, it was an exceptionally murky affair. Now they’re back with their sophomore full length, Sex in the Seventh Circle, and it marks a rather abrupt change of pace.

I’m going to refrain from beating around the bush and skip straight to full penetration. Sex in the Seventh Circle is a frustrating listen. This is primarily because, musically speaking, it’s just so bloody good. But the stylistic inconsistency between the music and the vocals, for me, presents a hurdle too large to overcome. It’s like when you order a nice big slice of apple pie but some evil bastard has sprinkled cinnamon over the top and you fucking hate cinnamon because it tastes like dirt and prostitution.

Unfortunately it’s something that’s noticeable almost immediately after the acoustic guitars and religious chanting of first track ‘Keeping Vigil’ give way to a ballsy, rolling riff bigger than Lars Ulrich’s demented ego. This is easily one of the catchiest, most robust riffs I have heard this year, which makes it even more of a shame when the black metal style vocals come in. It just feels like there’s a whole stadium separating the bassy guitars from the treble-drenched vocals. If you can get past this mismatch of styles, then you will find plenty to enjoy on Sex in the Seventh Circle.

One of my favourite moments of the album is when the crushing, bleak doom of ‘The Majestic Gathering of Goetia’ transitions into the bluesy smooth guitars and clean singing of ‘Mists of Albion’ providing, unlike the vocals, a rather pleasing meshing of styles. ‘Absorption’ starts off with a burly riff that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Mastodon song before breaking into one of the album’s pacier moments but it is ‘Beyond The Pale’ that is by far Sex in the Seventh Circle’s most… ahem… climactic moment. It boasts the closest thing that the album has to a chorus, with an irresistible vocal hook and a guitar melody that descends into pure schizophrenia.

With influences from pretty much every vaguely doomish band to have surfaced over the past 40 years, it’s Sex in the Seventh Circle’s diverse amalgamation of styles that makes it such a captivating listen. Hang The Bastard clearly have a soft spot for the dark corners of rock where nasty things scuttle and slither, and that certainly shines through on this album. Unfortunately, the vocals prevented me from enjoying it as much as I might otherwise have done.

Hang The Bastard’s Facebook page
Century Media Records’ website

Bottom Line

A musically captivating album sullied only by an overambitious and incongruent vocal style. Fans of doom and sludge will find much to enjoy regardless.

3/5 - Good stuff, worth a look

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