Review by Ollie Stygall.
Let me ask you a question. What is punk rock?
Is it the aggressive take on hard rock first put forward by bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Damned? Is it the metallic rush of bands such as Discharge and The Exploited? Is it the hyperspeed grind of hardcore bands such as Ripcord or Heresy? Is it the melodic, pop-tinged sounds of The Offspring? Is it the off-kilter, angular, dub-infused sounds of Fugazi? The answer is, it’s all of this… and more.
Haest from Hastings (see what they did there?) is punk but don’t easily fit into a convenient punk-rock pigeon hole. To my grizzled, ancient ears they sound like the modern day bedfellows of 80’s crust bands such as Amebix and Axegrinder as they throw a touch of sludge into their grimy grind.
Haest songs are built around the no-frills, molasses-thick riffs of Dan Flanagan who blends Sabbath heaviness with Black Flag’s relentless hammering. The lines between hardcore and metal frequently get blurred here, as it has the weight and heaviness of metal but with the drive of hardcore, in the same way that Discharge did nearly 40 years ago. Given that drummer Dan Kinsey also plays in stoner doomsters Wizard Fight it’s perhaps unsurprising that Haest occasionally slow things down to a mighty, lumbering crawl such as the intro to As Destructive As It Is. That said, the opportunity to pick up the pace is never too far round the corner. The band never stray into hyper fast, blast beat territory and this does work in their favour, as the songs retain a far greater sense of power as a result.
Vocally, Haest is firmly rooted in punk rock. Dave Cullern adopts a part-sung, part-spoken, part-shouted ranting style that has echoes of a more steroid-driven Steve Ignorant meets The Baron from The Amebix and, oddly, Max Von Reinhart from Doctor And The Crippens (anyone remember them? I bet it’s been a while since they’ve been name-checked in a review!). It’s an interesting and effective style that allows for full clarity for the lyrics and pulls the band to the right side of having an over-affected ‘extreme’ style of growling. It has far more in common with old school punk-rock and feels honest and natural. It may sound odd at first, but repeated listens (of which I have done many) show that the vocal lines here are real earworms, particularly on a track like Peel The Paint Away that will echo round your head long after the final cymbal crash dies down.
Haest is a new band, having only formed in 2018, but they have achieved an immense amount in such a short space of time with a hefty gigging workload in their back pocket and now two EPs. More remarkable is that EP2 shows a marked progression from EP1 with a greater breadth of dynamics, stronger melodies and a weightier, filthier sound. Most bands at this stage in their lifespan are only just venturing out into the gigging circuit let alone sounding like true contenders for something bigger.
Haest may sound like they’ll drink all your cider and shit in your bathtub – and they might – unless you check out this EP.
Review by Ollie Stygall.