EMPIRE STATE BASTARD, the extreme metal band founded by Simon Neil (BIFFY CLYRO) and Mike Vennart (BIFFY CLYRO live guitarist and solo artist, ex-OCEANSIZE),played its first-ever U.S. headline show this past Saturday (September 23) at Brooklyn, New York’s Saint Vitus Bar. Fan-filmed video of the concert can be seen below.
EMPIRE STATE BASTARD also features the legendary Dave Lombardo (SLAYER, TESTAMENT, MR. BUNGLE) on drums, with Naomi Macleod (BITCH FALCON) rounding out the live lineup on bass.
EMPIRE STATE BASTARD‘s debut album, “Rivers Of Heresy”, arrived on September 1 via Roadrunner.
In addition to its digital release, “Rivers Of Heresy” was made available on the following limited-edition physical formats: CD with an exclusive 24-page fanzine; poison green vinyl and red / black marble vinyl; and cassette. The deluxe vinyl bundle adds a seven-inch single featuring “Harvest” and a non-album B-side to either album vinyl.
The concept for EMPIRE STATE BASTARD emerged when Neil and Vennart would spend downtime on tour sitting at the back of their bus sharing the heaviest, most avant-garde and confrontational music they could find. Now, a decade on from its conception, the project is finally coming to fruition, with Vennart writing the songs and recording all the guitars, and Neil focusing on vocals and lyrics.
The two have emerged with a collection of songs which adventurously probes slamming hardcore in the vein of SIEGE; the frenetic, visceral thrash of SLAYER; the claustrophobic sludge of MELVINS; the freeform vocal dexterity of Mike Patton; and the gargantuan stoner riffs of SLEEP. It’s a band that’s rooted in the tradition of metal’s forefathers but informed by more recent waves of leftfield aggression.
During an appearance on “The Jasta Show”, Lombardo spoke about his involvement with EMPIRE STATE BASTARD. Dave said: “Simon Neil and Mike Vennart (are) from a very popular band in the U.K. called BIFFY CLYRO. (A lot of people in the U.S.) don’t know who BIFFY CLYRO is, but they’re massive in the U.K. They headline Download and Glastonbury (festivals); they headline Download the next day after IRON MAIDEN. So there guys are massive. But Simon Neil, the vocalist for that band, and Mike Vennart have a love and an affinity for hardcore music. And for the past 10 years they’ve been talking about this. And they hit me up during the pandemic and took a shot in the dark and said, ‘Well, why not? Let’s ask him. He might not wanna do it.’ But they asked. At first, I fell in love with the music. I was, like, ‘Wow. This is pretty fucking cool.’ Odd time changes. It’s a little thrashy. It has a little bit of grindcore in it. It’s hard to describe. It’s its own entity and it has a personality of its own. So to give it a description is really difficult. But it is in the hard music vein. And when I heard the music, I was blown away. And I agreed. And they sent me the files (for the album). And I recorded the drums in my home studio, and I sent it back. And they were pleased.”
Simon told Kerrang! magazine that he has been “needing to make a record like this for a long time. This is where I’m almost trying to be provocative,” he explained. “I said to Mike that I don’t want to sing any melodies — although there are a few melodies on the record, which is me following the service of the song — but my intention was no melody at all. Just fucking mayhem. We wanted people to feel that they’d almost struggle to get to the end of the first song. Thankfully, it became something more sophisticated than that, more musical, but at this point I needed to do this project. I haven’t sat down with my guitar and written a song for BIFFY in a long time, and I think post-pandemic I’ve struggled a little bit with inspiration. This will help me (going forward), I think.”
Lombardo, who has spent most of the recent years between crossover pioneers SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, horror-punk icons MISFITS, hardcore supergroup DEAD CROSS and MR. BUNGLE, was effectively fired from SLAYER after sitting out the group’s Australian tour in February/March 2013 due to a contract dispute with the other bandmembers. He was later replaced by Paul Bostaph, who was previously SLAYER‘s drummer from 1992 until 2001.
Lombardo rejoined TESTAMENT last year but has since stopped touring with that band.