Review Summary: Groovy.
I was fortunate enough to catch a live performance of these aptly named fellows at Damnation Festival last year. It may strike some metal/hardcore-wise readers as odd that a predominantly hardcore band such as Hang The Bastard, having released their fantastic debut album 'Hellfire Reign, were playing an extreme metal festival. Well, the thing with HTB is that with this 2012 release; they have undergone a smooth and very pleasant transition to a very inspired and unique metallic hardcore sound. Their leanings towards doom, black and sludge metal are at their best on this EP, displaying a wide variety of songs, surpassing their previous efforts and resulting in a very promising future for the band.
Presenting their sound with the colourful EP artwork (with a cool reference to 'They Live'), Hang The Disagreeable Gentleman certainly live up to the expectation you can gather from their appearance. The intro offers up an intimidating prelude to the hard hitting songs that follow, starting up with the classic style of a satanic audio sample before dragging you into some black metal inspired riffs. A few nicely timed breaks in tempo before HTB show off with some of their skilled guitarwork, offering up the opportunity to both headbang or simply mosh. The influences remain consistent throughout the EP from the outset. This then swiftly moves to the dark mood of the first track 'Interplanetary Portals'. The heavy whine of feedback and the crisp sound of a snare drum mark the start of HTB's ritualistic butchery as all members move into fine form. The drummer is consistent at adapting to the changes in tempo, each fill being impressively formulated; never giving off a sense of his drumming not fitting the music. All in all, he builds the atmosphere well - whether it's the thrashy, fast atmosphere of 'Lesser Gods' or the sludgy start to 'The Year Is One'. He's able to keep the pace well. Impressive demonstrations of his style can be found on 'Rivers Edge' in particular, able to keep a two-step rhythm consistent as well as performing 'side to side' beats well and as good opportunities for build-ups in the songs inbetween the typical high skill level demands of metal drumming. He acts as a fine base for the finely tweaked riffs on top.
One thing that will definitely grab the listener's attention is the diversity of the guitarwork on this EP. From the barrage of riffs and pinch harmonics on 'Interplanetary Portals' to the sludgy, groovy solos on 'The Year Is One' and the galloping sets of riffs on 'Rivers Edge'; there's a great level of variety to be found. They demonstrate their capabilities with a great level of skills and consistently too. But they're also able to create the mystical and peculiar atmosphere that their music represents, the melodic interlude on 'Interplanetary Portals' for example. Here and there, there are sections which feel padded out - the middle of 'Lesser Gods' for example. However, for the most part; Hang The Chap offer up a memorable and unique set of songs marked with the superb efforts made by the guitarists. Accompanying these darkly themed songs are the angst-filled lyrics of Christopher Barling; spitting hatred in a fantastic hardcore & metalcore approach. Growling and shouting in a dynamic pattern, allowing him to reach impressive heights in certain areas - including the end of 'Interplanetary Portals' and even melodic-styled vocals in 'Lesser Gods'. He roars his rebellious lyrics to deny a corrupt system: 'Won't be led astray by your crooked system, down a dead end path that can only lead to my doom. I am the beholder of all you desire.' It's hard to find vocals and lyrics that are more fitting for the atmosphere put out by this EP. Even the bass can be seen to push the limits, appearing briefly during 'Rivers Edge' & 'Lesser Gods' to display the experimentation and deviation from your bog-standard follow the guitar pattern. It's really nice to see the band attempting to define their sound on this EP, and they do it very well.
All together, Hang The Bastard show great promise; and their next full-length will most definitely be greatly anticipated by both metal and hardcore fans alike. They've taken a great step forward into a dark new world.