ALBUM: Hang The Bastard – Hellfire Reign

Release Date: December 6th, 2010
Label: Holy Roar Records
Website: None available


First impressions always count on an album, right? Get the listener hooked within the first sixty seconds, surely? Well… Hang The Bastard did something with the first sixty seconds that completely shocked me. The first minute of this album is a brave one. ‘Acid Bath Vampire’ opens with a minute of synth that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Clockwork Orange soundtrack. Wait, shall I give you a minute to recover? Synth on an album by a band called Hang The Bastard? Yes, this is reality. Luckily the synth completely works as it’s only the precursor to a majestic doom-laden riff that punches its way through the last half of the opener.

The constant strength of the songs is outstanding on this record. It’s almost like after every song was written, the band pushed themselves to write a bigger and better song just to compete against their own ability. Coming halfway through the album is ‘Snake Charmer’, my favourite song on the entire record. The riff has an old school Metallica vibe running through it with the thrash metal gait they play with. It has great potential of being absolutely massive in the live environment. The middle eight starts slow and quite with a winding riff building up, up, up in anticipation until it gets unleashed upon the end of the song. Seeing this played in a sweatbox club would bring the house down. “Save your apologies / I hope you die alone” snarls frontman Chris Barling as the band play the listener into submission with the density of their music.

‘Snake Charmer’ is the point at which the pace injection takes over this record. ‘1888’ and ‘Hell’s Teeth’ both contain the thrash of 80s metal which many bands have tried to replicate this sound and failed, but Hang The Bastard don’t make it sound like a cover, they incorporate it brilliantly around the sludgy riffs. The dynamics of this album make it the listenable record that it is. Whereas some heavy bands are very one tempo when writing music, Hang The Bastard aren’t afraid to go from very fast to slow and doomy in the next bar.

Just when you think you understand this record, they’re back! And by they, I obviously mean the synths! Played by James Spence of Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi, they drop back in at the beginning of the epic ‘Goodbye Piccadilly’. Although this time they are less of a shock, they still have the desired effect of breaking up the heaviness and creating a bit of a talking point. Closing track ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ is an effective lesson in how to write a heavy song. Bouncing riffs, crashing drums and raw vocals entwine to devastating effect as Hang The Bastard close this album as strongly as it starts.

If you’re looking for a record that combines the freshest bits of the UK hardcore scene, doomy-stoner metal vibes and some good old fashioned thrash, you can’t go wrong ‘Hellfire Reign’. Hang The Bastard have written an absolutely brilliant album and will deserve all the plaudits they receive. Big things to come from this young band, keep your eyes peeled.

Written by Josh Peett

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