I don’t know if LAID IN ASHES was driven forth by fear of the destruction that, supposedly, faced us at the arrival of the new millennium. I assume that you remember the speculations about computer systems malfunctioning worldwide due to the computers hosting these systems not being able to cope with year 2000, something which turned out to be bullshit. What remains a fact is that LAID IN ASHES started their conduct in 1999. Since then they have been responsible for 4 releases, two demos and two full-lengths. I, of course, haven’t heard about this band before, as this is yet another of Germany’s well hidden secrets. Unfortunately this secret could’ve been hidden for all eternity without me wiping any tears, meaning that I don’t wave my flag for LAID IN ASHES.
That being said, LAID IN ASHES is not a complete failure. In fact the production is one the factors that drags this release hardest against the bottom. The vocalist is the one who gets his performance most tainted by the lacking production values. He doesn’t lay right in the mix. I wouldn’t say that the vocalist would be among the great even with the help of a more fortunate role in the mix, but, I do say that he would have sounded a lot better than what he does at the moment. None of the instruments sound at the top of their game but all of them a lot further up than the vocals. I would go as far and call this a flaw, because it gets annoying after a while, especially the screamed version, almost as annoying as when Chris Barnes tries it. When I’m on that subject I would like to tell everybody that I do no longer see SIX FEET UNDER as a good live band. I saw them at Wacken and I don’t think it was good at all. A friend of mine, pretty drunk, dug it, though.
The music on “Bastards From Hell” is what I would call a mixture of Death and Thrash Metal, though with an emphasis on the Death Metal bit. They are not serving any new riffs to break your neck to, but they do play some of them quite well. “Bastards From Hell” won’t satisfy those out for the most brutal Metal, but there is not much for those looking for melodies either. It’s a semi-brutal Death Metal album that doesn’t take (m)any chances. When LAID IN ASHES let themselves loose, like they do at the end, it sounds interesting right away. The best parts of the album are when the guitars do the talking and the vocalist shuts up. I’m talking about guitar solos here. Some of them, like the one 2:16 out in “Death Of A Vampire”, are really good and I want to hand out kudos were it is possible just to show that I’m not grim and frostbitten all the time. My neighbour played a lot of rap today by the way. It’s hard to be grim.
What’s even harder is to become a “famous” Rock/Metal band. I write famous with these peculiar signs, “, because I do see a band as ABORTED as famous. I think of famous as famous in the Metal sphere. Getting even more famous is of course even harder but when that happens it often is as much about timing as talent. Many Metal bands force their name into Metal by refusing to be ignored. If it hadn’t been for the relentless pace of VADER they wouldn’t have been as famous. With around 150 concerts a year no one can tell me that this band doesn’t deserve every penny they make. They work harder than most people at factories. And work hard is what LAID IN ASHES has ahead of them if they want to become something more than an obscure band from Germany. They do possess the ability to make good music but they have to work like slaves if they want to get anywhere with their music. I don't think they are doing especially good for a band with 7 years on its back, but things could change with a new studio and/or producer, they better do. I'm not talking polished, I'm talking getting a sound that would suit their music.
According to the material on “Bastards To Hell” I don’t feel too let down for not picking up on them at an earlier stage. This is not an essential album at all; spare from some really good moments this isn’t what I would recommend my immense crowd of readers to buy. (Online September 30, 2006)