Rejected. Cast out, looked down upon, refused. Abandoned. You are completely alone, bathing in nothing but your own bitterness and contempt—contempt not just at the world around you—the world that turned you down—but yourself. Yourself for not being good enough, for not working hard enough, for not being born into a utopian life where everything was handed to you. Logical or not, you are filled with hate—and your pulse pounds, echoing in your ears and decaying your mind. This pulse—the lub-dub of lacerating, skin-shredding hate—is Dead.Last’s Bastard. Bastard is a full-length album so comprehensively aggressive that it strikes without warning and leaves no survivors. Intense, bitter vocals rampage over a canvas of dynamic, immense instrumentation that whales at the listener’s sanity like tidal waves. Dead.Last prove they are masters of misanthropic metal-turned-hardcore with Bastard, an album that is veritably the bastard son of violence and emotion.
On it’s most superficial layer, Bastard is sheer anger. Relentless, rampant percussion flattens the listener like a steamroller made of lead, while skin-rending, razor-sharp riffs and dynamic, rollicking bass that hit so hard they carve canyons and vacate valleys into the earth’s crust. “Family Ghost” is one such example of Dead.Last’s devastating instrumental prowess—building up with subtle, tangible intensity until—snap—the track breaks the listener clean in half, devastating them with a series of punctual, punishing breakdowns that devolve from crisp and clear into crunchy and sludgy. “Stolen Youth,” however, takes a different approach, cutting into the listener’s flesh right from the get-go, it’s the burning, visceral heat of the vocals that singes the listener’s sanity and incinerates their skin. While the riffs that dominate the track have no trouble scalping the listener’s flesh from their bones, the grating, harsh screams linger and burn at the listener’s skin, transcending a mere prickle or twinge and devolving into a full-on, throat-rending scorch. In this manner, practically every track Dead.Last hurl at the listener on Bastard hits like a ton of bricks but cuts like a chainsaw—and the ones that don’t pack a wallop in an entirely different way.
If the listener takes the time to dig deeper into the sack of fury and fire that is Bastard, they’re greeted with an unexpected twist—feeling. Tracks like “Am I Alone?” and “An Intervention” are tracks that pass up brutalizing, bitter and misanthropic hatred for intense and immersive self-loathing. These tracks play more towards Dead.Last’s penchant for emotive, intense hardcore rather than devastating deathcore and mutilating metalcore. While these tracks still hit hard (and in the case of “An Intervention,” hit fast), they dig deeper than the listener’s flesh and instead, rip at their heart—and more importantly, their heartstrings. “Am I Alone?” truly makes the listener not just feel alone, but embrace true loneliness. Meanwhile, “An Intervention” takes a long and sinister emotional trail to the top of a tedious mountain made of murderous hatred and pushes the listener clean off of the top—laughing as the climactic pummeling breakdown serves as the soundtrack to their demise.
What makes Bastard such an incredible release is not just the intense, blistering heat of the heaviness or the immersive, creative emotion Dead.Last bring to the table. Rather, it’s the fact that both components flow and melt together so smoothly that the listener can go from seeing red to feeling completely broken in a matter of minutes. Bastard is a masterfully diverse release that functions as a bridge—or rather the bastard child—of blisteringly technical metalcore, dissonant and dense down-tempo and brutalizing, pull-no-punches hardcore. On top of it all, Dead.Last strike the listener with complete honesty, keeping absolutely nothing secret from the listener, tearing open their own ribcage (in addition to the listener’s) and showing off their own emotions. Bastard is a release that will carve out the listener’s heart so they have absolutely no problem wearing it on their sleeve—for the last ten minutes of their life, as they slowly bleed out onto the pavement.
Crushing, creative, emotional and intense. What more could one possibly want from a maybe-metal-mostly-hardcore release? There is an entire cornucopia of influences and inspirations driving Dead.Last’s Bastard to be one of the most diverse releases the genre has ever seen, making it an early favorite for one of 2014’s best releases.
For Fans Of: Gift Giver, Sworn In, Reflections, Brutality Will Prevail, Barrier
By: Connor Welsh