Since Hang the Bastard's EP, Raw Sorcery, last year the band have been very busy. Having played several tours and released two split 7"s, the band has been working at a breakneck speed. This pace can not only be seen in their work schedule but also in the rapid developement of their sound.
From the eerie synthesiser (played throughout the album by Rolo Tomassi's James Spence) that begins the opening track, Acid Bath Vampire, you know that Hellfire Reign is far attached from Raw Sorcery. While the EP was very successful at combining Sludge and Doom with their rifftastic Metalcore sound, it was too easy to compare them to their predecessors such as Doomriders and Coliseum. On Hellfire Reign however, by taking influences from all over the place and then successfully blending them all together, Hang the Bastard have not only found their own niche as a band but have really come in to their own. While some bands try too hard to mix up their influence and end up sounding fake and contrived, Hang the Bastard's development sounds entirely natural and genuine. These eclectic influences are best shown on the album's peak, Goodbye Piccadilly. It, again, starts with James Spence's creepy synthesiser noises before spiralling in to a crushing, Black Metal sounding wall of noise before ending with massive Rock 'n' Roll riffs.
However as I mentioned earlier, the elements that made Raw Sorcery great and stick out from the rest of the Metalcore crowd are still here on Hellfire Reign. I mean this is still a heavily Stoner Doom and Sludge influenced Metalcore album. The album is still crammed with huge riffs. In fact, if anything the technical proficiency on the guitar has been knocked up a notch. They even throw out some fantastic solos like on the final track, Farwell Leicester Square. They've even kept the massive Thrash Metal and Slayer influence not only on thethe riffs but also the guitar tone throughout. Another element that makes Hang the Bastard stick out from the Metalcore scene is their breakdowns. These are not your typical, generic breakdowns, these breakdowns are really fucking good and sound huge.
While Raw Sorcery was an impressive EP, it felt like it was missing something; Hellfire Reign has that something. By keeping to their original sound but constantly absorbing new influences, Hang the Bastard have finally found their sound and it is fucking huge. The riffs and the production have both been knocked up a notch which makes this album even more crushing. This is overall, one of the most promising Hardcore releases of the year and I am really looking forward to, hopefully, seeing them go far.