Hellbastard – Feral

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It’s rare to find a band that are still a) interesting and b) experimenting after three or four decades. But UK crossover legends Hellbastardhave managed to do just that.After their original run from 1985-1991, the Geordie four piece reformed in 2008. Feral (Patac) is just the fourth album from the band – “Scruff” Lewty (Vocals, Guitars), Pete Salvage (Guitars), Laine Pearce-Rees (Bass) and Nathan Ellis (Drums) – and second since they regrouped.

Hellbastard are seen by many as the pioneers of crust punk, and reinforce the heritage with guest appearances from fellow UK crusties; Amebix’s Rob “The Baron” Miller and Andy “A. Droid” Wiggins, as well as Sabbat’s Andy Sneap. The PR guff describes Feral as “primal, back-to-nature shit,” which translates as “pretty simplistic, but still heavy”. Which is strange, because for the most part, it’s not particularly crusty.

For much of the record, it’s pretty route-one thrash album chock-full with political observations and snide phrasing from Scruff’s spat lyrics. Or at least it seems that way on first listen.Outside of the Year’ or ‘And the Point of Your Being Is…’ are prime examples of classic crossover the likes of Municipal Waste have taken to a wider audience. ‘Social Hand Grenade’ features some classic squealing guitar work while ‘Engineering Human Consciousness II’ is the kind perfect mosh pit fodder WarBeast would be proud of.

After a few listens however, you start to realise there are some surprises. The switches between raw aggression and a melodic chorus on opener ‘In Praise Of Bast…/Feral’ catch the listener off guard, while the impressive 8-minute three-part epic ‘We Are Coven’ strays into progressive territory. The left turn of4-Paws’ could pass for a gothic power ballad with it strings section and spoken word passages. The extra twists that are thrown into the traditional thrash/punk mix ensure that what could have easily been a tired rehash remains fresh.

Feral isn’t perfect and it’s not all quality or inventive. ‘Shame on Us’ is a passable mid-paced stomper, and though ‘Wychcraft’ has plenty of menace it meanders without going anywhere. But two duds isn’t bad for such a surprisingly varied album. For a band celebrating their 30th year, HellBastard still sound as angry as their name suggests. More impressively though, Feral shows a band willing to experiment and expand their palette into new grounds. There’s enough nodding back for legacy fans, but more than interesting enough material to make them worthwhile for anyone looking for a new spin on thrash.

 

7.5/10

DAN SWINHOE

Tau Cross – Tau Cross

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With Britain once again under the yoke of an unrestrained Tory government and the Cold War seemingly re-activated, it’s beginning to feel like the 80s never ended. Therefore what better time for former Amebix frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller to step back into the limelight with a new band after his legendary crust trio failed to capitalise on their recent comeback record. Joined by comrades in arms Jon Misery and Andrew Lefton on guitars; both seasoned veterans of the US scene and Voïvod drummer Away behind the kit, the quartet have united under the banner TauCross, and with their debut self-titled album look set to prove once more that the old guard knows best.

Those expecting a re-run of Arise! (Alternative Tentacles) will be choking on their bottles of White Lightning as the massive chugging riffs and subtle electronica of album opener ‘Lazarus’ announces itself with aplomb. Both verses and choruses are positively radio friendly and were it not for Miller’s customary gritty throat, you could almost be listening to Killing Joke try their hand at stadium rock. Next track ‘Fire in the Sky’ has a somewhat 90s alt rock vibe struggling to emerge from under the guitars and Away’s solid percussion before things speed up considerably on the restless ‘Stonecracker’, which Lemmy would have sold his last bottle of Jack to have penned.

As the album progresses, it becomes more obvious that the band have no interest in trading on former glories and are eager to let these new songs stand on their own two feet. The expertly written flowing riffs and soaring chorus of the likes of ‘Midsummer’, the simple yet deadly stop-start refrains of ‘You People’ and the levelling power of ‘Our Day’ are so well written that the whole thing soon begins to feel like a greatest hits collection. The production is crystal clear; making the songs sound simply massive and the sheer amount of hooks on offer suggests that large festival stages were in mind during the writing process. It’s easy to imagine a whole field at a mainstream music festival raising their hands and voices to the brilliant acoustic driven ‘We Control the Fear’, for example.

The sole misstep is closing track ‘The Devil Knows His Own’; a rather twee folk ballad that allows the album to dwindle out when it should have finished with a bang, but that is a minor issue when the rest of the material on offer here is so strong. Evidently his day job as a swordsmith on the Isle of Skye has given Miller plenty of time to think up some fantastic material, and it’s something we should be incredibly thankful for as Tau Cross (Relapse Records) is one of the most listenable and engaging releases you are likely to hear until the clowns at Number 10 have been sent packing.

 

8.5/10

Tau Cross on Facebook

JAMES CONWAY

Album Streaming: Tau Cross – Tau Cross

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International punk/metal supergroup Tau Cross is streaming their self titled debut album in its entirety, out May 19, 2015 via Relapse Recordshere and below.

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Comprised of a pedigreed quartet of musicians including Amebix vocalist/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, Misery guitarist Jon Misery, and War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton, Tau Cross formed in 2013 and recorded their debut album over several months in 2014 throughout three different countries.

Audio: Tau Cross – Lazarus

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International punk/metal supergroup Tau Cross is streaming “Lazarus,” off their upcoming Relapse Records debut out this spring below. Comprised of a pedigree of musicians including Amebix vocalist/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, Misery guitarist Jon Misery and War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton, Tau Cross formed in 2013 and recorded their debut album over several months in 2014 throughout three different countries.

Tau Cross (Voivod, Amebix, etc) Releasing Debut Album In Spring

tau cross

International punk/metal supergroup Tau Cross will be releasing their debut record in late Spring via Relapse Records.

Comprised of a pedigree of musicians including Amebix vocalist/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, Misery guitarist Jon Misery and War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton, Tau Cross formed in 2013 and recorded their debut album over several months in 2014 throughout three different countries.

Rob Miller commented on the project saying,

“We decided to let the songs form themselves around the original demos and allow people to bring themselves into the mix, to allow the bark to grow around the tree. We are all very proud of what we have achieved in this short time and looking forward to working together again as soon as time allows.”

“TAU CROSS will be playing live over the coming year, we hope to Tour in the U.S and Europe, it is still early days but i feel this is going to be an intense live experience.”