GIG REVIEW – THE STATION PUB, ASHTON-UNDER-LYNE, 5TH MARCH 2016
“Next up Healer of Bastards. I had never heard these lot before but had checked them out online and was expecting them to be good. However not this fucking good. On the Hardcore of hardcore punk with a passion to make the world a better place. A three piece with the drummer doing vocal duty. I am impressed. Tight, catchy and inspired. Healer of Bastards have some important stuff to say from ‘Killed By Catwalk’ through ‘Who’s To Blame’ to ‘Wage Slave’ they care, have a heart, have a passion for change and musical ability by the tonnage. As tight as a fucking tight thing, as solid as a fucking solid thing. The second band today to blow me away. And they do an anti drones number – good lads. For me punk has always been more than music. Bands like Healer of Bastards are important because they remind us that we are not alone in striving for a better world they also give us a great soundtrack to do so to. Top fucking notch. – Eagle (Punk 4 the Homeless).
Fungal’s Thoughts – “I know the stickman via his old band RAM-MAN and via the superb Angry Scenes Compilation CD’s (the best, the very best) so trusted this to be exceptional. The CD promised much, when I found out the guitarist from Slab was in the band the promise escalated and what I witnessed was fuckin’ bang on the mark. Pacey, punishing, drilled home with a thirsty efficiency the band cruised through their set and left me wanting more – the simple answer to that is to book em’ again – and so I fuckin’ will!” – Fungalpunk Dave
HEALER OF BASTARDS – WAGE SLAVES 7″
INITIAL SURFACE REVIEW – Band from Birmingham, formed 2014, liable to numb your knackers with the electro-pulsations that primarily pour forth on torrents of hardcore toxicity and wired up frustration. I have reviewed 1 CD and witnessed a lone ‘live’ showing. I have been very much impressed. Here we get a 3 song splatter, I don my steel-capped boots and kick out another review. It goes something like this.
INNER CACOPHONIC CORE
Assessment one – Soundbite, fuzz fuck wire manipulation intro, twanged adornments minimal. The first verse comes, reveals a loathing for the systemised situation many find themselves in – closeted away, in a rut, pounding the hamsters wheel – ultimately exchanging hours for the coin. A certain restraint is abandoned and the roared sub-hardcore chorus nails home the true intent of the matter. A saturated and incessant ploughing against the day to day head-pecking pressure ascends and the thermalised ill-temper follows suit. Recommendations here are of immediate ‘replay’ button attacks so as to fully digest the discordance. ‘Wage Slaves’ grows, add a bit of volumised fertiliser and a bloom will ensure – a bloom to appreciate in your most disgruntled moments.
Assessment two – A prepared start, followed by mechanoid oral utterances that peel away to let the first eruption of savage abuse invade. The bleak bladed knife of sound cuts into the flesh with spiteful twists and vulgar brutally that seems borne of a cold and calculated creator cum destroyer. The murdering machines under scrutiny in ‘They Are The Drones’ are unremitting, unapologetic bastards of the sky that come, take life and leave behind many innocents dead. The frustration spills from the hearts of the band, a mean delivery is par for the course and of course the crew add their own sci-fi/futurised subtleties – nice.
Assessment three – ‘What Is This Place (Not On Your Own)’ is a song built on a bewildered fascination at the fuckwittery out there that bleeds from the gaping wide-eyed maw of the moronic masses who can’t think outside their own tightly sealed brain boxes. Think and do things your way and be forever castigated by the cretinous tribes who think they know best. The song here is the longest of the trio and my favourite – a surprise indeed thinks this lover of the short and sharp. The ethos and straight ahead drilling combined with the cute touches and sing-a-long embracing chorus will no doubt make this an ‘in the flesh’ favourite. The corrosive edge initially hinders acceptance but stick with it, the whole mush works and gives hope to the outsider – always a good thing.
LOWER UNDERSIDE FINALISATION – I have booked the band for another gig, this should explain where I am at with them and what I think of their produce and attitude. I don’t take these sonic sensations lightly – and neither should you. Go support these minstrels!
HEALER OF BASTARDS – SELF-TITLED DEMO CD
“Only formed in 2014 and describing themselves as an electro-hardcore punk band, three-piece H.O.B from Birmingham have certainly embraced the DIY spirit with this release. Recorded on an old BOSS recorder with free mixing software they say it’s the music and message which counts not slick production. I actually think they’ve done a decent job with what they have at their disposal! Tuneful, intense, driving Punk with their lyrics of social injustice and struggle for a better future make for six tracks of really listenable stuff. The Clash sang about being a Garage Band – well HOB have not signed to CBS and truly make punk music in their garage! ..or lock up! Same thing but let’s not split hairs and knock old BOSS recorders as this is a quality DIY production from a good new band!” (Gaz) – SUSPECT DEVICE
HEALER OF BASTARDS – SELF-TITLED DEMO CD
“The dude responsible for chucking this 6 track avalanche of electronic hardcore my way is a chap I have been dealing with for many a moon now. He is a darn good trier and has put in more than is two-penneth worth with those Angry Scenes Compilations memorable exhibitions of the quality of noise out there. Here we see the chap in question involved with 2 other gents and producing a mix and match melee of wired up/wired out noise that stretches all concerned and makes for…well that would be telling wouldn’t it! The best way to see what comes is read the following assessment of these Birmingham Blastsmiths and see what this initial fuck-up of noise throws forth. And so…
‘Who’s To Blame’ is a smattering of angularity that opens on cross-wired electrocution that pulses hard with ‘not my responsibility’ ramblings infected the sonic showcase. Another pre-intro burst, this time with a synthoid 70’s sci-fi inclusion before catapulting sub-hardcore anger is unleashed. The fast trundling flow is hot roasted, happening and just shy of being totally hectic. Tonsils are worked over, the sticks dictate zested levels of animation and the string swingers do well to hold all aspects tight and keep the riffery roaring. Slight metalised tints are added, numerous slapped down splashes thrown and deep scarring strokes added to create an end composite with many textures and tastes. A rough-house art slop to perplex the aural onlooker but one done with such talent and sincerity as to raise a nod of positivity. ‘Bastard Species’ is an equal spillage but this time opening with rave-oid accents borne from a sweat laden club hopefully free from the second rate hippies that ruin a scene. Do not panic dear spiked swine, the band are back into their usual feisty furrow and kicking up much sonic shit with a direct screwdrive of tense and enraged vomit splashing out onto laps that better take heed. Very pertinent lyrics here placing the human populace on the dung heap and quite clearly reiterating the whole fuckin’ mess we are making of this planet. I like this kind of defiance, a delivery that deals with the desperate idiocy taking place and even before the music melts my mind I am convinced. The rhythm is, as said, direct and to the point and doesn’t fuck about. Listen up and roar with the reasoning – it will do thee no harm at all.
‘Half Price On Humanity’ deals with the financial farce we currently find ourselves in where the poor man takes a bigger whipping and the rich shits stay secure. Injustice is a consistent trend in a world of trickery and selfish fat cat twattage and so the Healer of Bastards have every right to vent their spleen. The 4 wired weapon commands the day here with a seducing weave of melodic thrumming that paves the way for a more than an adequate foundation upon which the crummy scuzz guitar and slap bounce of the tympanics can operate. The throat is sandpapered as per and so we get usual schizzle from a crew who have already found their modus operandi. A neat and tidy, tidy and neat (oh Mr Men how grand ye were) expulsion that is, for me at least, the pick of the rasping pops. ‘Pit Bullshit’ chases, is a controversial subject I am not thoroughly in agreement with (hey it happens) but reckon the sizzling noise will get people sitting up and taking note of the point made. It is a buzzsaw moment that frazzles the receptors if played at a heady volume level and the more typical thrash and fuck hybrid certainly have their moments. Biting hard into the flesh with fiery jowls whilst shaking your carcass into attention is the route taken – ouch! To add, I think dogs are too often used as a symbol of status, have been, over the years, bred into all shapes and sizes due to our petty desires and for me I feel most need to be stopped from breeding and let to go into non-existence. All these vulgar abnormal obscenities that walk with arthritic gaits, breath with difficulty, have protruding eyes or weakened frames are frightening examples of our almost Frankensteinian desires and I for one don’t like it! Give me a good old regular cur any day (just my personal thoughts and as you know I gotta chuck em’ out there as I don’t get paid enough to keep quiet – harrumph).
Last two – ‘Killed By Catwalk’, has material I very do much concur with and think the stinking propaganda out there that dictates to many what they should look like is a disease that needs constantly exposing. An electro-snigger, a waffle, a deep throated war warble and into the straight ahead tear up. The verse sections are a trifle tamed and don’t tickle my tonal testes but the stagger chorus and drift dream float add character and rescue this dittified dog from the gutter. Average for me with a few moments to savour further. ‘Blinded By Simple Tricks’ is the least effective runt of the litter with a somewhat blurry pathway taken that sees the song not run as truly as it should do. The lack of liquidity, the echoed similarity to all that has passed, the overly jerked and perhaps fussily worked orchestration leaves me a little on the outside although the song does develop a little more towards the latter end. Just one of those ya know!
In the final overview I feel that this CD starts well and offers a cutting, scathing sound with much political gutsiness. Towards the latter end I feel the tracks waver slightly and just run out of alternative gas and leave one frustrated and wanting the band to venture forth into realms promised – I await to see where the crew go from here! I trust they will do themselves justice!” – Fungal Punk.
JULY 2015, with Gaz from Suspect Device:
1, Healer of Bastards! Great name but who are the HOB members and when did you get together? ..any band members have previous convictions with other bands?
Cheers mate! I’m glad you like the name. It seems to amuse a few people, which we are pleased to hear :)
Although the idea of H.O.B started in late 2014, I guess we didn’t really become a proper band until early 2015. H.O.B was only supposed to me writing songs at home, but I knew Simon through a band I was asked to join that never really went anywhere. He liked the idea of H.O.B and asked if he could join. I wrote a song called Pit Bullshit in late 2014 and when Jake heard it he said he wanted to play too! I’ve known Jake for years through the scene, as our bands had played and toured together numerous times.
We do indeed have previous and current band links: I (Paul) was the original bass player, and then later singer, in R.A.M-M.A.N until we finally called it a day in 2013. I was the drummer for Contempt between 2005 and 2010, and I was also the drummer on the debut album for Scarred Society (2011-12). Jake is the frontman and guitarist for SLAB, a brutal metallic-hardcore band from Birmingham. Simon is pretty new to playing with live bands, but that works really well because he not yet jaded by years of plugging away with very little reward, ha ha.
2, You describe yourselves as a ‘Three piece, melodic, electro-hardcore punk band.. I like your sound a lot but how did it come about?
Thanks! I had taken a break from playing in bands, because I had been trying to do too much all the time and wasn’t taking very good care of myself, but after a while I felt like I still had things I wanted to say, and melodies in my head that I wanted to hear out loud. I’d always wanted to write some electronic beats and combine samples & effects with raw hardcore punk too, so that was something I’d wanted to try for a while. Simon wanted a new challenge, so asked if I’d consider trying to turn it into an actual band, so we went ahead with the idea that we would play as a two-piece. However, when Jake heard the first song, he loved the lyrics and the sound and said he’s love to help out!
So, in January 2015 we had our first proper practice, and we sort of hit the ground running! We played a local gig, one in Portsmouth, released our first 6-track EP in May, and played 5 gigs in Europe. It’s all happening a bit fast, but it is loads of fun.
3, How about the lyrics? You say you play angry but catchy songs but what gets HOB angry?
Most things get me angry, ha ha. The funny thing is that we are all very personable people and just like to get on with most people where possible, but some shit in the world just drives us crazy. We are all different in the band, but there are many shared views about things we hate. Our songs often talk about our frustrations regarding injustice, prejudice, racism, misogyny, cruelty, hunting, greed, corruption, and ultimately how we need to unite as much as possible to fight these problems.
4, I actually know you’ve only been together a short time despite the opening question – how have you done for gigs in the time you’ve been together and how has the HOB sound gone down live?
The local, UK, and Euro gigs I mentioned have all gone really well so far! We have couple more local ones lined up, plus we are on the Birmingham Punx Picnic in September, so we are quite pleased with how people and promoters have responded to us so far. In truth, the gigs and release we have done have gone down a lot better than we expected. Because we have electronic elements in the band, some punks can be a bit dismissive of the sound, but we have found that most people have seen past it, and just enjoyed the songs for what they are. We have a lot of fun on stage, and it is clear that we enjoy ourselves when you see us perform, so I think some people appreciate that and can get into it (there’s nothing worse to me than watching a band on stage that are miserable, or take themselves so seriously that they seem incapable of having any fun with the crowd).
5, You debut self titled release was recorded by the band in a totally DIY way – How did you do it and is DIY the way to do it?
I think DIY is a fantastic route to go, especially these days because so much free software is out there, and all the old recording equipment that is no longer sought after can be bought second hand for very little. The main downside is how it can sort of ruin the songs for the person that records them. We only recorded 6 songs, but I was a bit sick of hearing them after the 100th time, ha ha! However, the main advantage is that allows you to afford to do it! We couldn’t afford to pay someone to record it and also release it, so we opted to record it ourselves. Of course, it also helps that the drums were (painstakingly) programmed, because recording acoustic drums is not easy!
Overall, having recorded and mixed your own stuff means that you put 100% of your heart and soul into the music, which I do believe comes through when you hear it.
6, Where would you like to see the band going to from these beginnings?
We have started as we mean to go on in many ways. We meet when we can, always enjoy playing, have a laugh, and play gigs when we all feel ready to play gigs. We just want to keep playing songs and generally enjoying everything we do. It is a bonus if people enjoy the music as much as we do, and if our lyrics about fighting for a better world are taken on board by anyone, then that is great too!
The biggest change is going to be us trying out me playing live drums and singing at the same time. We have tried it a couple of times in practice and really enjoyed the sound, so we are going to do our future gigs that way, and see if we still get a good reaction. We will still keep the samples and some electro parts, but the live drum sound is so much better, if we can pull it off.
For the remainder of the year, we will put a few gigs on for other bands, play a few places in the UK, record again, and there has been talk of us doing a split 7” with SLAB. Next year, we might do an album and, without a doubt, we will head to Europe again! The tour in May was so much fun and we made some great new friends, and were told that we were welcome back, so that will be ace.
7, HOB are from the cosmopolitan metropolis known as Birmingham – What’s the Punk scene like there.. Any new bands like HOB worth a shout?
Birmingham is still very much alive with live music, and punk, metal & hardcore are very active in the city. I do not actually live that close to Birmingham any more, and I do not get into town to see as many bands as I would like. However, there are lots of punk bands coming through, and loads of old ones still holding their own against the best of them as well!
Some of these bands are not that actually new anymore (how time flies!), but Brassick, Malarkey, Angry Itch, Fear Insight, and No More Numbers are all doing really well, which is great to see. Check ‘em out! Also, I saw a band last weekend called Dead Happy, who were a crazy metal/punk/dance/disco band. I had not seen them before, but if anyone wants to see something different then give them a go :)
8, …and lastly! Anything to add or HOB news not covered in the questions.. Gossip and vicious rumours are OK too!?
I think I have probably bored you enough, lol. However, we’d like to thank you for the interview and for reviewing our CD. Without people doing zines, gigs, and DIY labels, there would not be much of a scene, so keep up the great work. Cheers!
CHECK OUT HEALER OF BASTARDS ON THIS ‘BLACK VOLVO SPECIAL’ PODCAST. IT FEATURES ‘HALF PRICE ON HUMANITY’, PLUS LOADS OF OTHER GREAT BANDS/SONGS.