Hang The Bastard
26 November 2012
by David Keevill
Hang the Bastard’s collection 2009-2012 may not be a eulogy (as they stress so empathically on their label’s website) to former frontman and co-founder Chris Barling, but it does serve to draw a line under the first chapter of HTB’s career. The release of this 32-track collection isn’t so much a fitting summation of what they’ve achieved so far (there’s no cherry picking here), rather a ‘throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ approach, which makes the whole affair appear like they’re desperate to distance themselves from the band they were in a former life.
It’s brimming with every track they’ve made in the last three years, including their debut album Hellfire Reign, the Raw Sorcery EP, their splits with Brutality Will Prevail, Brotherhood of the Lake and Abolition, and last year’s visceral self-titled EP. On top of that, there are a handful of early demos that please for the wretchedly minimal production and demonstrations of aggression that have become so synonymous with the HTB name.
All in all, it’s a messy, unkempt affair, and as mentioned before, it screams of the tying of loose ends, but it’s difficult not to be staggered by the endless muscular assault of this London five-piece. Although faithfully dedicated to a sound that walks a line between hardcore and thrash, over the three years charted here there is an noticeable move away from a relentless punk pace (‘Genesis’, ‘Goodbye Piccadilly’) and towards the more gargantuan, but equally crushing stylings of 2012’s Hang the Bastard (‘Interplanetary Portals’).
Chris Barling’s vocals are endlessly sadistic; even with the tangible tongue-in-cheek humour that Hang the Bastard inject into their lyrics, Barling invokes a vile growl that sits somewhere between the grunt of Tom Araya and the sneery spew of Cancer Bat’s Liam Cormier. ‘River’s Edge’ is a monolithic, bowel-loosener of a track, over which Barling’s vocals path a venomous route that in turns erupts into this shuddering breakdown punctuated by howls of “Blood of the Innocents.” Barling’s distinctive assault will be missed, but it’s the tight and unrelenting music that will continue to plough the band forward with Mike Carver at the helm. While Barling’s vocals remain at a savage but fairly singular tone, it’s the musical backline that constantly push Hang The Bastard out from the saturated mire of their hardcore contemporaries and into a much more expansive musical realm.
Sounds like: Slayer, Brotherhood of the Lake, Last Witness
Stand-out tracks: The Blackest Eyes, Raw Sorcery, Rivers Edge