ALBUM REVIEW: Hammer The Bastards – Wolfbastard

You could argue that black metal and crust punk have a pretty symbiotic relationship. For starters, both genres arguably attribute their influence to many of the same groups, notably VENOM and MOTÖRHEAD. They also share many of the same basic traits; namely an emphasis on speed, gross output and general nihilism. Sitting smack in the middle of this most vicious of Venn diagrams are Manchester WOLF LARGE. Tracing their lineage to the two groups mentioned, as well as to the tastes of DUMP and DARK THRONE, the third full album of the trio Hammer the bastards is a high energy exercise in gleefully on top of violence and vitriol.

It is clear from their name alone that WOLF LARGE have their tongues at least a little bit in the cheek here. Track headlines like Buckfast’s Blasphemies, Nun Krusher and the somewhat out of place Cemetery slag indicate something similar too. It suits them, perhaps lending a knowing nod to the often excessive carnage on the record. In this regard, the group goes straight to serious things with the deliciously blackened opening of the album. Can’t escape the grave. Here, the trio combine explosive drums, tremolo riffs and barked vocals for what quickly becomes something of a model to follow for the record. It’s not much that we’ve never heard before, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the execution (quite literal).

Unfortunately, this proven formula soon begins to run out of steam. WOLF LARGE may have a pretty solid basic idea, but we don’t really need 30 minutes and 13 tracks. Without too much dynamic variation, Hammer the bastards somehow just goes through a relentless explosion. There are a few moments which pass the head above the parapet – the titular hook bark of the aforesaid Buckfast’s Blasphemies is particularly easy to pick up; while Nun Krusher arguably provides the fiercest rager on the album – but ultimately, a limited sonic palette means the record struggles to hold its listener’s attention.

To be fair, WOLF LARGE tap into many groups that might be the subject of similar criticism – MOTÖRHEAD are hardly known for their varied discography, for example. The group is also savvy enough to keep the individual trails nice and tight. With only two of them breaking the three-minute mark, the album is progressing quite well as a result. Granted, the odd trim could have helped, but there are no obvious offenders that stand out as particularly weak. Lo-fi production works well too. Much like the band’s ancestors in punk and black metal, it helps them capture raw, living energy that is anything but essential for music like this.

Ultimately, Hammer the bastards is a perfectly solid record, it could just do with a few more ideas. If you’re looking for something fast and furious this will do, don’t expect much more. That said, you can pretty much guarantee it would be a lot more fun live, so definitely don’t rule them out if and when they bring their death, destruction, and D-beats to a location near you.

Rating: 6/10

Hammer The Bastards is slated for release on January 14 via Clobber Records.

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