Current and former members of Dropdead, Ulcer and Paindriver have come together to offer a blistering blend of d-beat, crossover and old school thrash with their new project, Hell Bent. This Rhode Island quintet harnesses the skills they’ve collectively accrued in their respective projects to deliver some furious, thrashing madness that hardcore fans new and old should dig.
On Friday, January 12, Hell Bent will self-release their self-titled, debut EP on limited edition cassette. In anticipation of its unveiling, we at Svbterranean are stoked to bring you an exclusive stream of its penultimate track, “Condemned to Life”. Check out the track after the break along with a brief interview with vocalist Badger and guitarist Shawn.
Could you please introduce yourself and your role in Hell Bent?
B: I’m Badger. I sing.
S: Shawn. Guitar.
How did Hell Bent come to be?
S: Brian, John and myself were previously in a band called Neon Bitches, in which I played bass. The short version is that we morphed out of that band, and there was a conscious decision to turn the style away from hardcore and focus more on metal. Brian, John and Badger used played together in the band Straight To Hell, so that’s where the idea to bring Badger in to sing.
Compared to other acts you’ve been involved in, how has writing and performing in Hell Bent pushed you as a musician?
S: It definitely has been a push for myself that I’ve always wanted. I’ve played guitar in a couple of other bands, but none as fast or in this style, so it’s been a great push for my playing. As far as performing it’s been a breath of fresh air, as there is a great group of bands/promoters/clubs supporting metal in our area, so there’s a sense of comradery which surely eases any performance nerves. Also, we play more regularly than our past band, so playing live seems to be getting more natural.
You’ve described Hell Bent’s music as a “blend of old school thrash, crossover and d-beat hardcore.” What do you feel the combination of these musical styles accomplishes that they do not separately?
B: Most people who like extreme punk and metal music like all of those styles, yet too many bands just restrict themselves to one dimension. “D beat” for instance has become its own genre, yet early Discharge is an early influence on everyone from Disfear to Metallica to Sarcofago, so playing “Discharge influenced “thrash” metal” is hardly a new thing when you think about it.
S: Badger does make a good point. For me and I think Badger and the rest of the guys would agree it makes playing a lot more fun when you don’t have any expectations on you to sound a certain way or have your lyrical content confined to just anarchy, wizards, partying, death, etc…themes. We can still address the crap in this world, but it doesn’t have to be the sole drive. We’re all angry about something these days, but I want this band to still be fun for us and our fans.
What can you tell us about the making of the new EP?
S: It was actually recorded in our practice space by Brian’s old bandmate Scott Beckett (Ratstab) and later mixed by him as well. I think he did great job. We did it live and isolated as best we could given the space constraints. I am still very happy with it. It has a raw, live character that I like about a lot of music we are influenced by.
As far as the physical tapes, I did the artwork/layout/printing and Brian took care getting the tapes made.
B: It came out much better than I anticipated. Digital recording has certainly come a long way, from the awful sounding, compressed crap I first experimented with in the late 90’s.
What are some of the lyrical themes explored on the new release?
B: War, death, post apocalypse, anti religion, history and folklore.
What can you tell us about the new track we are premiering today, “Condemned to Life”?
B: It’s called “Condemned To Life” and is about the contemplation and conundrum of suicide. If life is the problem and death is the posited “solution” than what comes after death? Food for worms if you ask me. It is written from the perspective of someone deeply depressed, contemplating taking their own life. The chorus being “condemned to life, condemned to death, the blade is my key, take my last breath” i.e. “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
What is next for Hell Bent after the EP’s release?
S: Full length for sure. Hopefully a vinyl release. We have an entire album worth of material, so we’re ready to get in the studio. I want to continue playing shows and hopefully get on the some festivals in 2018.
B: Hopefully a full length LP/ CD if any label wants to release it, or at the very least… a split LP with the best band going right now- Knight Terror.
Any final thoughts?
S: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and for the support! We’re looking forward to reaching a wider audience with the EP and getting a full length in the works as soon as possible, so hopefully 2018 will be a good year. Be nice to one another!
B: Extreme metal and hardcore punk are more relevant now than they ever were. I thought Reagan was bad…