Wolfbastard – Hammer the Bastards Review

Are you a bastard? Have you ever wandered outside your house and, I don’t know, be grabbing a Monster Pipeline Punch and a corn dog or some shit and all the sudden it dawns on you: “I’m a bastard”? We get abused regularly over here at AMG HQ, with phrases such as “overrating bastards,” “everyone shut up,” and “no, Doom_et_Al, Deafheaven still sucks” being hurled this way and that like swarms of angry bees armed with mini-javelins: doesn’t kill or seriously injure, just hurts a little more each day. As such, Wolfbastard is the soundtrack of our workplace, because us overrating bastards are getting hammered regularly – both in the good and in the bad. Will Wolfbastard hammer your eardrums in the good or the bad way?

Released on the newly founded and aptly titled Clobber Records,1 these lupine scoundrels are out to beat you senseless with their breed of crusty black metal on their third full-length, the aptly titled Hammer the Bastards. While incorporating the pitch-black elements of crusty counterparts like Young and in the Way or Tempest, these Manchester natives are surprisingly fun in their interpretation of scathing crust, although it will not hesitate to throw you to the curb with punky tempos and vicious blackened shred. Tremolos shred the ears while energetic D-beats exchange furious blasts, and harsh barks drown out the pretense. There’s little life-changing about Wolfbastard, but I’ll be damned if Hammer the Bastards isn’t the best way to open up a new year.

If being blasted left, right, and center by crusty, punky black metal is your recipe, Wolfbastard is the crusty Martha Stewart of Manchester. Hammer the Bastards does not let up, eschewing all forms of subtlety in favor of blasting shenanigans. Sure, slower tempos and spoken word add an ominous element to the title track and “Graveyard Slag,” but even these moments are outweighed by punky beatdowns punctuated by memorable tricks like vocal climaxes, interesting chord progressions, or chunkier riffs. While tracks like “Black Friday,” “Drag Me to Hell,” and “Fear the Exxxecutioner” feel like Under a Funeral Moon Darkthrone meets Circle the Wagons Darkthrone in their balance of black and punk, there’s punky simplicity about tracks like “Buckfast Blasphemies,” “Morbid Fucking Hell,” and “Nun Krusher,” which rely on breakneck speeds and simple chord progressions, feeling much like black metal Ramones. Bolstered by a barbed production aesthetic, guitar licks are raw and scathing, while bass provides solid support to rest upon. Hammer the Bastards is, at its core, an immensely fun record in which tracks never overstay their welcome.

Wolfbastard doesn’t pretend to be anything more than the crusty black metal that they profess. Speed and scathe are front and center, and technically impressive elements fall to the wayside – there are no solos, complex rhythms, or crazy vocals. However, just as the British punk greats before them, Hammer the Bastards has no pretense of appealing to elitists. Gauging it from this perspective, therefore, is its need for cutthroat speed, and there are a handful of moments in which excessive repetition or sloppy progression derails otherwise solid songs. “Returning Evil” in particular falls apart at the hand of a riff that feels improvised and awkwardly disjointed, while “When Will It End” suffers from a chord progression that gets repeated a few too many times.

So, are you a bastard? I hope you said yes, because Wolfbastard is big stupid fun, and Hammer the Bastards doesn’t pretend to be any different. Sure, it won’t win many year-end spots. Sure, the crust lends itself to extremely simplistic song structures. Sure, there’s little technically impressive here. But it still maintains a nice blend of barbed black metal and rebellious punk without the gravitas of other blackened crust acts, as if Darkthrone and Sex Pistols made a supergroup. As I was repeatedly hammered, I found myself feeling like a leather-clad Viking on a Harley with a pair of aviator shades. So, Steel, after years of verbal harassment, I finally admit it: I am the bastard.2

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Clobber Records
Website: facebook.com/dbeatblackmetal
Releases Worldwide: January 14th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Best name ever. – Steel
  2. I broke you. – Steel
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