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Always intriguing being invited to review a band unknown to me yet with a lengthy history; its another matter trying to review a band for whom a genre was part-spawned by their influence through which I have little previous direct contact. That is the case with Newcastle's Hellbastard. Despite being one of the originators of the 'crust punk' (sub-)genre back in the mid-late 80's my knowledge of them is squat as it's time to get down to reviewing their reformation EP and album.
According to the label's site, my only reliable source of information, both products have been slated for release on the same date, a curious (read: stupid) decision considering the band's previous proper studio release was at least a decade ago. Further research leads me to finding out that the crust punk genre was named following this band's "Ripper Crust" demo in '86, which as I listen to "Eco War" (EP) and "The Need To Kill" suggests that the band having moved on somewhat since then as these releases are nothing but thrash, and an unconvincing attempt at it. When compared to Amebix, the only certifiable crust band with whom I have previous experience the difference is night and day in every department as the punk influence to be found here on "Eco War" is minimal at best: a smidgen in "Woe, The People", and erm, that's all I'm getting. No bouncy chord progressions or spiky song structures, just a strange intro that feels more like an album outro; an unremarkable groovy thrash song made remarkable by random guitar noises at just the moment in which the song was crying out for a solo; the aforementioned ‘punky’ song bridged by a organ ‘solo’; a song that feels every bit like a Slayer cover ("Massacre"); and then a Slayer cover proper ("Die By The Sword").
The story isn't over yet, but "Eco War" doesn't make a good start in this Hellbastard double-header...
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net