Countdown to MDF X: (32) Hellbastard

The moment I first listened to Hellbastard, my heart began to race, and I had that eerie feeling as though I was hearing the voice of a departed loved one. That “departed loved one” was evidently my youth, misspent listening to crap. I felt sick and ashamed that I had never known of this UK band until now.

Founded in the mid 80s, Hellbastard set out from the beginning to merge the lyrical, integrity of 70s era punk with the balls-to-the-wall aggression of non-industry-approved heavy metal. Their earliest demo, Ripper Crust, possesses that deliciously fuzzy heavy metal guitar distortion, the frenetic drumming, some occasional feedback, and that forgivably low-fidelity audio production. The vocals, unlike black metal or “traditional” punk, are much more clear and shouted in your face. They are pissed off, and they want you to know why.

Later albums, such as the unbelievably Slayer-esque EP They Brought Death, reveal the fact that someone has thrown more cash into production, but the punk and metal spirits never wane. Hellbastard stay true to their prime directive: to rock you into submission. One source even described their sound as Crass’s political lyrics plus Slayer’s music, and I would say that’s spot on. Unlike a typical punk tune, which might be over and done with in about a minute, Hellbastard take their time with each song, enjoying the riff, building the rage, and letting the listeners experience full-on, head banging catharsis.

The current members of Hellbastard include founder Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty (Vocals/Guitars) with Tom McCombe (Guitars), Paul O’Shea (Bass), and Josh “Buda” Harris (Drums). The group’s history is bi-modal with one active era from about 1985 to about 1992 and then another from 2008 until now. Interest in Hellbastard was sustained in the interim by their inclusion on numerous complications representing the crust and grindcore genres.

Hellbastard has produced a 12″ vinyl split with American crust band Dresden and are slated to have a new EP, Sons of Bitches, out sometime by the end of 2012 or early 2013.  The song, “Arcadia,” below, appears on both. Hellbastard plays the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Saturday afternoon, May 26. I’ll be up front, weeping and apologizing.

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