Herida Profunda / Hellbastard – Split

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Label: Vleesklak Records (Belgium) / Tercer Mundo (Chile) / Here And Now Records (Italy) / Incredible Noise Records (Germany) / Phobia Records (Czech Republic) / Grind Your Mind Records (Brazil) / NIC Records (Poland) / 783 Landsberg Hardcore Crew (Poland) / Svoboda Records (France) / Civilisation-Records(Germany) / D.I.Y Kolo Records (Poland) / Mundo En Kaos Records (Mexico) / Pandora Records (Germany) / WOOAAARGH (Germany)

Very much a split between the new(ish) and the old here. Herida Profunda are a relatively new crust band, with one album released prior to this split and members based in Poland and the UK. Though, they’re only really new when compared with the other band on this split, who should need little introduction. Hellbastard are one of the grandfathers of crust, and it’s great to see them teaming up with a comparatively new, underground band for this release. At just over 30 minutes, it’s a solid, satisfying listen, full of power and invigorating energy. It’s not music for sitting around and passive listening; it’s music for fighting intolerance, making a difference, and getting shit done – exactly as crust should be.

Herida Profunda take the first side of the split. Their sound is rooted in classic crust punk, though with a definite hardcore influence and edge to it, not to mention more than a hint of grindcore. Introductory track “Taniev Śmierci” makes the socio-political nature of the band clear, before the album proper begins with “Zjedz Zanim Zgnije” throwing the listener in to a storm of thrash riffs, pounding drums, and intense vocals. There’s no real let-up in intensity from then on, which is aided by the way the band know that playing at maximum speed isn’t always the best way. Tracks like “1312” feature shifts in tempo and emphasis that make the songs feel longer than they actually are (in a good way), being full of passion and ideas. At the same time, there’s more than enough raw power and ferocity here to get your more simply kicks. And whilst it hardly strays in to realms of technical grind or anything like that, even a casual listen will make clear that there’s real talent to the band, with plenty of examples of superb songwriting and musicianship throughout Harida Profunda’s side of the vinyl. Oh, and there’s a cover of Napalm Death’s “You Suffer” at the end.

By contrast, Hellbastard open their side of the split with an almost orchestral intro, “In Praise Of Cats”, which harkens back to the intro to their classic “Heading For Internal Darkness” album, albeit much longer and with a more modern sound (as would be expected after some 27 years). That the band are more metal than classic crust has long been established, but it’s still something of a shock to hear just how crushingly heavy the band are when they go in to the first proper track, “Engineering Human Consciousnes” – there’s huge sections here that could fit in to almost any worthwhile thrash or crossover album you could care to name.

Likewise, “Big Business Pighole” is full of classic 80s crossover sounds – in more ways than one. The production between the two tracks is hugely different, with the later pushing the drums right up, with the bass drum and snare dominating things. It’s both a surprise, and a shame – it’s a great song, but the differences in production are so vast, and the drums so dominating, that it means it comes across worse than it deserves to. Thankfully, things improve for following track “Going Postal” (if anything, the drums are pushed down in the mix a bit, for a more even sound that suits the song); and closing track, “Wolfsong – To The Dead…” is absolutely great, full of heavy tribal drumming and weighty bass underpinning Scruff’s commanding vocals and some quietly dramatic soaring guitars. It’s an absolute triumph, especially when the band unexpectedly shift gears just over halfway through the song. It’s just a shame the production on the preceding tracks varies so much; whilst I still enjoy Hellbastard’s side, if the production was more balanced and consistent, I’d enjoy the songs much more.

All in all, it’s an interesting split, this. Herida Profunda show why they’re one of the leading lights of modern crust punk, effortlessly moving from style to style and making it all sound so effortless and good. Meanwhile, Hellbastard show that there’s life in the old dogs yet, and anyone writing them off does so at their peril. It’s also great to see so many labels involved in one release – a wonderful example of working together and co-operation across borders.

Split can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp. It’s also available on picture disc via Bandcamp and respective labels websites; the first 25 purchased from Wooaaargh come with a limited testpress and hand-numbered cover; the first 200 come with special artwork. All versions include inserts and posters.

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