I'm a glass half full sort of person, always looking for the best in something, even when it's like looking for your car keys when you're in a hurry. HELLBASTARD's “Eco-War” EP failed to ignite any great degree of interest and, cards on the table, “The Need To Kill” is hardly Viagra to a nonchalant nob.
HELLBASTARD have plenty of tricks up their sleeve but not many will provoke cries of “Bravo” and many of them have a pub's morning-after whiff to them, a slight odour of stale ale and fags, it doesn't help that having resurrected themselves, they haven't brought anything new from the grave. That's not to say that they totally lack vigour, “Stressed” is an eloquently moody stalker that features some noire Hard Rock elements amongst the chug, the result is a more contemporary edge as opposed to the more dated material found elsewhere. The main problem here is that HELLBASTARD are rehashing old ideas and though retro styling has its place in Metal, it tends to work best with bands who think they've found a new toy to play with. It's unfortunate that “The Need To Kill” tends to grab you when you're not paying attention, my foot unwittingly taps away when I listen to this whilst absorbed in something else, all by it's self I soon tire of it.
So, despite the Crusty crossover references, the band are mostly faithful purveyors of the Thrash and in that light, this is a jug full of chug, it veritably bounces along replete with the occasional ripper solo and the vocals confirm the impression with that gruff, slightly comedic delivery inherent in the original form. There's not much in the way of speed present but the heaviness makes up for it, there's the odd snorter but it's predominantly a mid-paced, humping hippos affair but again despite the outwardly positive aspects, it's the lack lustre performance that lets it all down. Whilst we're on the downs, I have to comment on the whispered vocals that feature with music on “Cheyne Stoking” and with the sound of a creaking rope on “My Best Friend Misanthropy,” fucking hell, how annoying are they? Even given the context on the former, which features some fine sub-METALLICA slow-burning, I just can't bear to listen to it and I can't hit the skip button fast enough.
Tagged on the end of the the new material is a gaggle of older work, it is played as if written with the more recent efforts and I have to say it loses a bit of the rawness that grubbed up the originals, for me that detracts but I'm sure that others will welcome them being brought up to date, even if that date is somewhere in the early 90's. The old stuff tends to air a more serious vibe than what precedes it, more indicative of HELLBASTARD's political viewpoint and as such the end of the album tends to tip the balance its way, in more ways than one. However, when all is said and done, can you really decry a band who write a Thrashing take on the children's programme “In The Night Garden?” I might just go and see this lot live just for the joy of hairy, pot-bellied Thrashers belting out “Iggle Piggle” at the top of their lungs.
In all honesty, I tend not be impressed with bands who come back from the dead. Virtually every Punk band that used to get me launching snot and that are now treading the boards again induce maximum cringe when I hear them. They are what the phrase “Fuck off and die” was made for. HELLBASTARD are nowhere near as bad but it might explain why this resurrection doesn't give me one.
(Online April 18, 2010)