hellmen - The I-94 Bar

Mutant Surfer - Hellmen (Buttercup Records)

mutant surferFor six years at the cusp of the ‘80s and start of the ‘90s, Hellmen rode the skatepunk-surf wave better than most Sydney bands. Now Melbourne’s Buttercup Records reminds everybody what the racket was all about. Hellmen were explosive and slammed out song after song with not many longer than three minutes - exactly like this release. 

"Mutant Surfer" is a four-track seven-inch EP with two scuzzy rehearsal songs, an outtake and a previously released track. The title cut opens and is an especially potent example of what these guys sounded like live. “Don’t Do It” rocks like the proverbial but pales next to closer “Stone Rock”, left off “Electric Crazyland”. “Skate To Hell” is a cover of a Gang Green song that seems very familiar, even to a non-skatepunk fan. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hellmen back in the day (something about them being from enemy territory like the Northern Beaches maybe?) but this makes me want to track their old stuff down. It's all due for a re-issue and this is a taster for a Buttercup LP of some sort.

Art is by the mega-talented band member Ben Brown and there’s even a temporary tattoo in the packaging. It’s a limited run of 300 copies - a precursor to an LP - so don’t delay.

martiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating3/4

Buttercup Records on the Web

The Fantastic Sounds of Guitars…Unlimited! – The Hellmenn (Buttercup)

hellmen unlimitedThe quick version? Fourteen tracks. The cover doesn’t lie. Wall-to-wall guitars. Rocks harder than a Manly ferry on a cross-Sydney Harbour run in a 40-knot gale. The long version? Read on…

“The Fantastic Sounds of” has the blessing of Dave “Spliff” Hopkins, their mercurial guitarist, and frontman Ben Brown, whose stellar “surfing dead” artwork has not only adorned their past and present releases but those of Massappeal, Red Kross and Bored! They were the core of the band. Hopkins now lives in WEstern Australia and plays in Purple Urchin, while Brown is still a stellar artist.  

The Hellmenn sprang from the loins of the Sydney musical underground in the halcyon late ‘80s, rolling out a long-player and numerous EPs and singles until grunge, random breath testing, poker machines and venue licensing red tape sucked the marrow out of the local live scene in the early ‘90s. The Hellmenn were proud products of the city’s Northern Beaches - the place that spawned Midnight Oil, Asteroid B612, the Celibate Rifles, to name some notables. There were many more.