Hellsteed

Bastion Of Cruelty (demo)

Written by: EW on 12/10/2009 17:03:06

I somehow get the impression that a lot of bands these days, metal or otherwise, don't value the demo phase like it was in days of yore. Probably due to the rise of the internet and Myspace, there's seemingly as many labels as bands willing to 'sign' groups who should never be allowed near a recording studio, or at least until they have some kind of compositional awareness of what they're doing. Demos give bands this space, which leads me onto "Bastion Of Cruelty" quite nicely, the second demo from the English blackened death horde Hellsteed. Quickly following formation late in 2008, the "Devoured By Wolves" demo signalled a beginning in the process of Hellsteed discovering what right they had to play music; the result showing some undeveloped signs of competency beneath a flat typically demo-ish production.

"Bastion Of Cruelty" marks a large step up in compositional awareness, backed up by a far beefier and all-round grimly solid production in which all three instruments have been brought to the forefront and with it we get three really quite exciting tracks with which Hellsteed can undoubted progress from in the future. The opening title track is without doubt the best of three, showcasing the band's ability, and willingness, to experiment with song structures in the name of differentiation; many larger bands should take notice! Its 6 minutes or so venture through a number of stages which crucially feel akin to each other in the true vein of songcraft (an art lost on the average Myspace-generation metal bands). The drumming of Tom Clayton stands out the most while note should be made of the gruff yet audible vocals of Joss Lambert that bear kinship to Johnny Hedlund of Unleashed. When they are sporadically supported by some background clean vocals the result is even more impressive, giving a much greater depth to proceedings and an area I'd like to hear more from in time.

'Riff of the Demo' award goes to the one which gets "Behind Me A City Burns" really going - anything which screams Deströyer 666 is good in my books. Perhaps not making full use of the momentum built up in these early stages, "Behind Me..." still challenges the listener with a number of well-structured riffs and directional changes, before "Alone We All Die" closes out with a most notable flamenco introduction. Who would've thought three grim metal bastards could have such an exotically deft touch?!

Given that most demos are not very good (one could also say 'shit') "Bastion Of Cruelty" shows strong potential for a band yet so inexperienced in their wares. By no means the finished article Hellsteed sit amidst a few different styles and are a band well worth the time spent checking out should you fancy something more honest than most of what 'Myspace metal' will provide for you. I suggest that is exactly what you do!

7

Download: Bastion Of Cruetly
For The Fans Of: Behemoth, Unleashed, Deströyer 666
Listen: Myspace

Release date: July 2009
Self-released

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