“This is a slice of American life, and if you don’t like it, bite something else,” states Star Strangled Bastards in the introduction of the band’s first full-length, Whose War Is It? Harsh guitar chords pick up as the tirade continues: “What are you gonna do when the police show up to your house at two o’clock in the morning to arrest you because the government has decided you are a threat because of your race, religion, political beliefs, where you come from, or the way you dress?”
As Star Strangled Bastards go on to spew about persecution in good ol’ America instead of a tiny, far-off country with a name you could never pronounce, you can tell they’re not about making a safe first impression — a quality often absent in our current green-, orange-, and red-alerts society.
Having shared members with such infamous punk acts as D.R.I. and Battalion of Saints, Orange County-bred Star Strangled Bastards shoves you back to the hardcore/punk sounds of the ’80s. Reminiscent of the Exploited’s The Massacre through its metal-edge and strong trash influence, Star Strangled Bastards combine the fast beats of punk with non-stop thick metal guitars that, thankfully, avoid spurring images of long-haired, greasy headbangers and metalheads.
The band alternates between songs about class war (a theme shared with the Exploited) and split-second shifts over blunting the blame for stealing someone’s weed and alcohol, showing they don’t take themselves too seriously to sing about sometimes-stupid personal aggravations. The band’s short and to-the-point songs, usually wavering between two and three minutes, suit the music well, as the Bastards lack a steady, catchy beat.
Star Strangled Bastards’ in-your-face attitude isn’t likely to go well with the newest emergence of young punkers who like a little more beat with their music. But for those who want a shift back to a harder music of a harder time it’s a new alternative to digging through your record collection for that Discharge album you’ve already heard a billion times.