HANG THE BASTARD
- Desert Storm
You can’t deny it, there’s something that extra bit gratifying when our more carnal desires are satisfied. It’s a well-known fact of human nature that we often want that which is lurking in the dark, something which promises to be as hellish as it is enthralling. It’s no great mystery why people love the likes of horror movies; the sense of risk, even if it’s artificial, is enough to get the blood pumping. For anyone who feels like they need to explore this avenue further however, there are three words I’d strongly suggest looking up, namely, HANG THE BASTARD.
The confines of the Shipping Forecast’s basement itself evokes notions of restriction and degradation, so when coupled with the volatility of the opening act OCEANIS, it quickly evolves into a cavern of unstable metal hedonism. Live, Joe Mariyanji (Vocals) is an imposing frontman, flitting between ominous inter-crowd pacing and possessed screaming/growling. Intense doesn’t really tick the box; there’s a satisfying sense of unease in their performance, the sort that makes metal oh-so engrossing and addictive.
The overt outward expressionism is swapped for a more introspective showing from DESERT STORM, though that doesn’t mean there is a sacrifice in substance. Tracks such as closer Enslaved In The Icy Tundra see the band forge a sound which is dense, dirty, and ticking near-enough every depraved notion you could possibly yearn for.
However, if Oceanis and Desert Storm reflect differing ideals of deranged volatility, then Hang The Bastard take that concoction and multiply it to a dangerous degree. Their most recent release, Sex In The Seventh Circle, revels in the depths, a conflation of classic metal riffs, admittedly given a darker makeover, and Tomas Hubbard’s demonic vocal performance. For the majority of the set Hubbard is hidden behind a curtain of long, brown hair, every bit the maniacal frontman, every so often an opening developing in the mesh through which emanates his piercing screams. Sweet Mother sees Hubbard at his most demented, a sight which is as intriguing as it is terrifying.
Unlike the previous two acts, indeed unlike most acts, Hang The Bastard avoid any personable engagement with the crowd. Theirs is a performance which relies very much on recognising them strictly as performers, protecting the barrier behind which they are able to maintain their unhinged and wildly satisfying front. Hornfel, a highlight both of the new record and the evening, epitomises the repetitive and dark aesthetics on which Hang The Bastard have made their name, the band descending into riff after riff in a cataclysmic display of brute force, all revolving around the wailing centrepiece of Hubbard. When his eyes do present themselves from behind the rug of hair they are every bit what one expects, truly windows into the manic soul of exactly what it is that makes this great band tick.
The notion is, at least in part, one of relief when Hubbard and co take their leave to join their merch stand. More notable however is a feeling of release, a sort of cleansing, if you will. Amid the electrifying décor, what Hang The Bastard really offer is a chance to let go. And when it’s as thorough and consuming as this, I certainly won’t be complaining.