Hellbastard - The Need to Kill (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Need to Kill (2009)


Despite being often recognized for their role in helping shape the budding crust punk scene of the 1980s, it was the metallic crossover thrash style of their 1990 LP Natural Order that garnered Hellbastard the accolades that have stuck through two decades despite a 15-year hiatus. As such, it only makes sense that upon the band's 2008 reunion and subsequent revival, the same approach be taken for their comeback album, 2009's The Need to Kill.

Opening with a brooding "Enter Sandman"-esque guitar lead and rather unsettling series of labored whispers, Hellbastard spends the entire three minutes of their first track building into the following song "Going Postal." With its flittering double-bass and piercing metal squeals, Hellbastard shows little resemblance to their anarcho-crust upbringing while describing the forces that push people to the brink of homicidal insanity. "Anthropological Angst I" is a strange 20-second hillbilly-sounding interlude that leads into the thrashy "Stop Your Whining," which sounds almost exactly like Suicidal Tendencies' "Send Me Your Money" in terms of rhythm and vocal meter.

The band gets excessively metal on the four-and-a-half minute instrumental "Stressed," which would still be aggravating even if it wasn't so long due to its masturbatory solos and riffing. More creepy whispering makes up "My Best Friend Misanthropy" while "Business Pig Hole" is filled with a greater degree of substance alongside its myriad metal diversions. "Justly Executed" had previously appeared on the seminal 1989 Earache compilation Grindcrusher and is one of both albums' best tracks.

Hellbastard's lyrics are generally pretty pedestrian and sometimes questionably articulate. Rather than attach any degree of analytics to what they see as "political" subjects, they instead opt to describe something of a morose spectacle like on re-recordings of "Death Camp" and "Afrikkan Beggar," which states "Sometimes he shows his stumps of yellow teeth / The curse of pity, a grotesque mask of death / With hands like claws about his begging bowl."

While the easy-to-please metalheads who only live to thrash will undoubtedly love Hellbastard's return, a more astute listener will likely find something left to be desired in The Need to Kill. Sure, it rocks, it shreds, and it grinds, but there's far too much meddling and excess to constitute the quality Hellbastard is capable of.