Bastards – Ethos EP

Bastards - Ethos

Bastards – Ethos EP

This Denver-based hardcore band Bastards debuts with Ethos and I am struck by how rhythmic this youthful-sounding EP is. Anchored by a very practiced and synced bass guitar and drums set-up, songs march into breakdowns at every other turn. But this isn’t mathcore. The frequent rhythm changes rarely interrupt the pace and momentum of the music. Bastards’ hardcore is  more melodic than aggressive.

First, “Sigourney, IA” opens with bass guitar and drum bursts that pop out from the grit laid down by the guitars. The song ends with rolling drums that segue into track two, “Grave Rusting.” This track would be little more than an overlong breakdown if not for its remarkable use of feedback, which shimmers between the stompings. Unfortunately, the hoarse, sometimes squeaking vocal that is so noticeable during “Grave Rusting” settles in for the rest of the album. Despite more nagging flaws, track three, “Ethos,” won me over at the two-minute mark. In fact, it was here that I gave into Bastards. After two minutes of up-and-down tempo changes, the drums and bass guitar stumble into a downright patient one-minute coda that is marked by a simple guitar harmony.

On “Long Live the Heart,” the lyrics, which had been nothing special on previous songs, finally engage: “I’ve been there, too, bleeding out / I’ve been there, too, hanging from the door sill / I’ve been there, too, bleeding out in the bathtub / Long live the heart–until the heart stops.” The fifth track, “The Trapped Wolf Will,” uses rhythmic dynamism to satisfying ends. And, just in time, the EP concludes with a gang-shouted outro called “Ending.”

The guitar tone is solid and the song constructions are workmanlike, but I enjoyed Ethos mostly because it offers some inspired playing by Bastards’ rhythm section. Recommended, especially if you like Defeater, Modern Life Is War, Have Heart, and The Hope Conspiracy.

Official Bastards site