Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The PDX-Files: Ausgebombt "Hellbomber" cd, 2003

Ausgebombt make me think of Survivor Series, possibly my favourite wrestling competition. In it, you traditionally have four-on-four survivor matches that see four wrestlers teaming up to take on another four-man team. While it can be pretty messy but nonetheless glorious, sometimes you do have teams that work great together with the four dudes displaying proper collective skills and charisma and you wished that you could see them do another match together but you know you won't, because you've got different teams every year. It breaks my heart really. Ausgebombt is really not unlike the Randy Savage/Razor Ramon/1-2-3 Kid/Marty Jannetty team from Survivor Series 1993 as they showed solid wrestling kills, a great sense of timing and storytelling and delivered a quality match that, if rather classic in its construction, completely lived up to a wrestling connoisseur's expectation. But never did the four blokes wrestle together again, it was a one-hit wonder. And man, I have always been a sucker for Razor Ramon.

If you have followed this witty wrestling metaphor proving, once again, the distinction and sophistication inherent in Terminal Sound Nuisance, and assuming you have ever seen a wrestling match, you will know exactly what I mean about Ausgebombt. If not, don't worry, I will be more literal in the following lines. Ausgebombt (meaning "bombed" in German) only recorded once and released this record "Hellbomber", whereas they objectively worked really well together and I remember being pretty gutted at the time when I realized that they no longer existed. Now that I am infinitely wiser, I can get over the pain and revisit a record that I have loved dearly and regularly listened to, just like I can finally rewatch that Survivor Series match again after all these years.

In the Hellshock's post, I mentioned that PDX was a city of many bands, some of them quite successful and others really just short-lived sideprojects - which does not mean that the latter were bad at what they did. I would venture that Ausgebombt, from the inception, were more of a sideproject between long-time friends looking to play rocking music together, rather than a stable band built to tour Japan every year. I could be totally wrong of course, but I like to see the band in this light: four experienced punks getting together for a brief time but long enough to record a very enjoyable work. "Hellbomber" was certainly not the first endeavour of the members in a studio. Let's take a look at the resumes then. Ausgebombt's line-up (they all used cheesy nicknames for that one) included Jackal (singer of Defiance and The Unamused, and bass player for Blood Spit Nights) on vocals, Ratgunner (Religious War and Hellshock's guitarist) on guitar, Pigripper (bass player of Religious War and formerly of Deathcharge and guitar player of BSN) on bass and Hatchet Face (drummer of Axiom and Atrocious Madness and singer of Hellshock) on drums. Two things immediately spring to mind. First, my wrestling metaphor was utterly relevant since the name combination of Jackal/Ratgunner/Pigripper/Hatchet Face would make an awesome wrestling team. Second, Ausgebombt probably saw the light of day when Religious War stopped playing and, henceforth, promptly formed since having just one band in PDX was just impossible (or even prohibited). More seriously, although Ausgebombt were firmly rooted in the metal punk sound, I do see their essence as being not dissimilar to Religious War and BSN's. The respective musical intents certainly differ but the bands wrote solid, triumphant and well informed studded, bullet-belted punk rock. And by the way,  if a friend ever claims that Religious War sounds like Subhumans and Blood Spit Nights like Gai, please tell him that the Punk Taste Police requires him, in the shortest delay, to leave his scene membership card on his desk before more drastic measure must be taken.

As expected from a bunch of PDX punk rockers, Ausgebombt's visual and musical production is permeated with references. The very band's name derives from a famous Sodom song, there is a Broken Bones cover, the title of the cd (it came out as a mini Lp on vinyl) has the "Hell" prefix, you've got nuns in leather wearing gas masks (smelling Terveet Kädet here), a reaper riding bombs and a pretty neat PDX HC skull-embroidered axe logo. Ausgebombt quite obviously indulged in old-school metal punk with a distinct UK flavour that is naturally to my liking. I am reminded of a less technical, rawer Dis-take on classic bands like Broken Bones, Debauchery, Anihilated and English Dogs, or a punky, dischargy version of actual metal bands like Sodom, Warfare and Virus, or even of a PDX remodeling (aka the full studded jacket hardcore remix) of 90's UK metal punk band like early Hellkrusher or Aftermath. But there is one band that is incredibly close to Ausgebombt's music: Metal Duck on their 1987 "Quackcore" demo. Try to go beyond the unavoidable differences in terms of sound and production between a mid 80's young English band's first demo and a mid 00's Smegma studio record from thirty-something PDX punx for a second and focus on the music. Yep, amazingly close, especially in the triumphant, fist-raising, sensible riffs, the offbeat vocal flows and even in the peculiar energy. I have no idea if Ausgebombt knew about Metal Duck's demo, but it is not unlikely (they certainly did not keep the duck gimmick or the silly sense of humour though).

"Hellbomber" was recorded and released in 2003 on Hardcore Holocaust Records. I used to be a very regular customer at HH distro as I really liked the tasteful record selection (the distro carried Whisper in Darkness stuff as well) and I would buy pretty much everything the label put out. This particular record is by no means "a classic" but it is an ideal one if you are looking for simple, hard-hitting, epic, crunchy metal punk with a D-beat vibe and victoriously heavy intros and thrashy breaks. The guitar sound has that crunchy Nausea-meets-Sacrilege vibe, the bass is super buzzing, thick and groovy, and I love how the vocals are arranged, shouted but understandable and following the mighty "Rhythm of Cal". On a personal level, I would much rather listen to Ausgebombt all day rather than all the lame "crust'n'roll", "motörcrust" or "metal punk death squad" bands that seemed to pop up in the late 00's/early 2010's. They may just have been a side-project, an anecdote in the grand story of Punk, but sometimes, a short story written from the right perspective is really what you need. A good retelling can still make a good story. And if you do need to know the rest of this particular one, just listen to Dog Soldier, the band that Jackal and Pigripper, backed in their PDX HC quest by Matt from Defiance and Greg from BSN, formed after the end of Ausgebombt. Japanese hardcore-infused PDX metal punk. And the movie is great too.


  1. I love this record and this style of punk. The PDX bands did it so well and most of this stuff is cheap and easy to find on discogs.
    I have had trouble finding rips of Assassinate, BSN, Dog Soldier, and some some of the other lesser known, but still amazing, bands from that area, though.
    Great job on this series!

    1. Thanks man!
      Yeah it is true these bands are easy to find for cheap today, I really like the dynamic, simple sound, I think it really works fine. When time permits, I can provide tips of BSN and DS if you like :)

  2. When this came out, I loved the idea. I liked the result, but I didn't love it. I'm still undecided why or where I stand on it. It's good, but something's amiss. Maybe it just isn't my style, so it is a little jolting when I'm reminded of how it sounds vs. what I think it will sound like. Whatever the case, I'm glad it exists. -ZM

    1. I don't think it is a great record, and I do feel that the band may have rushed it a little. Some songs are genuinely good but others may have needed a little more songwriting. This said, I think bands like BSN, Religious War or Ausgebombt (the intro to the first song gets me every time) did deliver and I like their brand of hard-hitting, punk as fuck, triumphant music. For some reason, these are bands I love to play on a sunday morning.
      I think Dog Soldier really did release some solid records however, especially the second Lp. It feels much more focused and precise but keeps that full metal jacket PDX edge.