Sunday, October 26, 2014


Hardcore is about respect. Japanese culture is predicated on respect. If you had to describe Bastard in one word, it would be respect. Bastard had a lot working against them by the time they started in the late 1980s Japanese scene. The scene had been going for over ten years and was entering its second wave. The bands from the first wave were all still very prominent forces within the scene. Gauze, Systematic Death, Death Side, GISM, Lip Cream were all still going and performing as well as they ever had. An even bigger challenge for Bastard was their pedigree, or lack thereof, going into the band's formation. Outside of Burning Spirits guitar hero Zigyaku and his time in the established Gudon, the band did not have a lot of notable experience (Koba had just joined Systematic Death before Bastard). This is the most startling aspect of Bastard: three of the four members were relative unknowns at the time of its inception. Consider what they would do after. Koba would continue with Systematic Death and form Rocky & The Sweden. Iizawa would feature prominently in acclaimed Burning Spirits act Judgement (along with Zigyaku) as well as be a part of Japanese supergroup Smash Detox. Tokurow would also join the two in Judgement briefly.

Bastard was a group of stars forming and becoming what they were always meant to be. The band isn't just the best band of the second wave of Japanese hardcore. When people discuss Japanese hardcore, Bastard is right at the top of the conversation. They are in the same breath (and by many, held higher) as GISM, Gauze, and Death Side. This is thanks in large part to the band's assaulting sound. Bastard is as good as they were because they understood they needed to take respect. Taking respect for them wasn't humbling themselves or spending time trying to perfect a sound. It was playing as fast, as hard, and as determined as possible. On the band's "Tragic Insane", the opening song from their debut release Controlled In The Frame, the band sets the tone for what Bastard is. The intro features the sample of a battle and then the drums come in, then the bass, then the guitar awakens with feedback into the opening riff, and finally Tokurow lets out a scream and holds it. Much like a fighter shadowboxing in the ring before the bell sounds, Bastard uses this intro to prepare themselves and the audience for what is about to happen. At the ready, they launch into the frenzied pace that Burning Spirits bands have prided themselves on for decades.

Bastard's music, on both Controlled In The Frame & Wind Of Pain, is what kids with something to prove can do. I don't mean something to prove like "if I do this or that, people will notice me", Bastard took their respect. They knew the challenge ahead of them and their work on both records is the work of kids rising to the occasion. Bastard got in the ring that is the Japanese hardcore scene and didn't settle just being happy to be there or hoping they could release a couple of records. They wanted to make their mark and hold it. That's why their music holds up to this day and is as strong as it is. You can hear Bastard's fight to take respect.

Bastard's 2010 Chaos In Tejas performance is the best show I have ever been to. Their performance was like a band that came halfway around the world to take the respect of a foreign audience. Like soldiers trying to take a hill, they played with a precision and intensity that made it clear there was no room for doubt about Bastard. What's more the audience in attendance, knowing they were finally seeing the almighty Bastard, lifted themselves to a place that went beyond exhaustion and any level of intensity they'd known before. Kids wore themselves down but knew they needed to push further. If they were singing along, stage diving, or moshing... they knew they had to do it harder because this was truly it, there was no tomorrow when it came to Bastard. The result is the best show I have ever been to.

Included is both Controlled In The Frame & their LP, Wind Of Pain.


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