Hellbastard: Feral

Single-minded crossover crew lose their sense of direction

Why you can trust Louder Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

An ongoing criticism of Christian rock/metal/hardcore pertains to how the performers’ attention to their message results in second-rate output in which the actual tunes come across as an afterthought to worship and praise.

On album number four, Newcastle crusty crossover legends Hellbastard demonstrate that a similar fate can befall those on the anarcho-punk, bleeding-heart-guilt, left-wing side of the hate spectrum.

Undoubtedly, Feral is an ambitious work reeking of conceptualism and orchestration transposed into broad, angry sonic strokes, but the clumsy combinations and transitions in opener In Praise Of Bast/Feral highlight the combating strengths and weaknesses of this entire record.

Hard-as-nails verse riffs feature scalding guitars and exceptional vocal phrasing, but time is split with a quizzically alt-atmospheric chorus and a discouraging lack of flow. The same half-and-half story goes for Outsider Of The Year and Shame On Us. Then there are tracks like We Are Coven, Wychcraft and And The Point Of Your Being Is…, whose parts never congeal, contributing further to the lack of direction.