Sickening Blackened Hardcore

June 27, 2015


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It can be difficult to get the ratio of black metal to any other subgenre just right, but hardcore poses its own challenges. While the two share some punk roots in their sound, hardcore is more of a boisterous outburst of in-your-face fury. BM, at least traditionally, seeks to terrify from the shadows with counter-culture and themes of death and decay. And yet, Bastard Feast (formerly Elitist) have managed to create the Cherry Coke of extreme metal. From the US black metal mecca of Portland, OR; Osculum Inflame is here to put the Mayhem in your Minor Threat.

I feel one more comparison is warranted, and then I will avoid my typical deluge of references: Converge. Like Jacob Bannon and company, Bastard Feast bring a fast, chaotic concoction of relentless beats, abrasive vocals, and killer riffs. Need an example? Check out the insane hammer-ons and pull-offs of “Old Father,” or the crunchy bass intro to “The Rats Through Our Veins.” The sparing use of effects further differentiates each track without losing the overall skull-crushing theme.

Where the black metal comes in is with the one-two punch of the vocals and overall atmosphere. There are some death growls thrown in for good measure, but most of the shrieks and wretches register in the BM rulebook. Far from the distant whimper in the distance of other so-called USBM acts, the name of the game here is presence. Osculum Inflame is the equivalent of Sarah Connor's dream in T2. It is pulverizing. Add to that a nice dose of cavernous reverb and dissonant melodies and it's party time.

Despite the overall concise, punk rock ethos of most tracks, Bastard Feast is also quite capable of building to some lofty crescendos. The grim howls and chord progressions on “The Serpent Spoke” bring the title to life, while sludgy “Synthetic Messiah” drags the listener to a fitting conclusion over its 10 minute duration. Having stumbled into this group by accident, I expected very little. But let me tell you, this is some grimy stuff that you do not want to miss. At $9.99 on bandcamp, one might question the final word. Trust me, this one is worth it.