With their change of vocalist in 2012, Hang The Bastard transitioned from heavy hardcore that swung like King Kong to something I could never quite fathom with Tomas Hubbard’s black metal screeching. I saw them just after this change, and whilst it had been a great show, and I am yet to see a moshpit double in size so quickly as River’s Edge began (or see someone do push ups in the pit), but on record, whilst the riffs were still there, the vocals never meshed in the same way. But hearing of their break up, which was a bit of a shock after being around for seemingly forever (actually only since 2007, but that’s still 9 years of plugging away), it would have been a missed opportunity not to go to their last headlining gig on Monday 11th April at the Old Blue Last.
Opening support act Sodomised Cadaver had their strengths and their moments, but were never really able to move me. They had some good riffs and dynamic drumming, but the lack of a bass left a hole in the group, and the vocals were straightforward death metal high screech/low growl/higher screech/lower growl, although it was funny to hear frontman Raymond Packer say ‘Cheers, we’re Sodomised Cadaver from south Wales, this one’s called (switches to death growl) ‘Tortuuuurrre’ in a thick valley accent. They reminded me a bit of seeing local bands whilst studying in Canterbury; the ideas and the technical ability were there, the songwriting not so much.
Second band Harrowed sounded furious. It was great. Comparable to Nails, they played thick heavy hardcore, and when they slowed down it tended to get fast again very quickly.
Hang The Bastard got the crowd nodding it out as soon as the riffs came in, but it never really picked up from there. Perhaps the unreconciled mix between the screeched vocals and two–step riffs is the issue, but the energy, despite the writhing of guitarist Sam Rice, never really translated. The sound was strange, with the vocals often sounding as though only the reverb channel was coming through, making for an ineffective mix of high, bodiless screeching and thick riffs, which on records and at prior gigs could’ve churned a year’s worth of milk.
I feel bad to be criticising a band I love (Hellfire Reign spent eight months in my car CD player getting played very loudly to and from a job which I need to steel myself for, and then wind down from) who seemingly never got the attention they deserved, but this was not that great a gig for them, and the sound quality certainly didn’t help. I feel like a bit of a bastard (pun not intended) (well, now I’ve said it, maybe a bit) to blame vocalist Hubbard, but when they play at Holy Roar’s 10th anniversary gig on 21st May for their final gig, with original vocalist Chris Barling due to join them onstage, I’m hoping they can bring the hardcore hellfire one last time and send the bastards out with a bang.