Man Is the Bastard were a pioneering hardcore punk band who contributed the name, and perhaps also the ethos, to the punk subgenre known as power violence. Based in Claremont, California, the band existed from 1990 to 1997, releasing many vinyl records on obscure labels from around the world.
In stark contrast to other punk musicians, Man Is the Bastard made the move of displacing the electric guitar from its long reign as the primary instrument of punk aggression. In turn, they made room within their revolutionary spirit for progressive bass chords and scales, for industrial noise (field recordings and power electronics), and for member Henry Barnes' (Amps for Christ) homemade guitar reconfigurations.
The bass-heavy configuration was found in earlier projects by founding members Joel Connell, Eric Wood, & Shawn Connell. Their thematic emphasis on the primitive and mythological would continue in Man Is the Bastard records such as "Sum of the Men" and the split album with Bleeding Rectum. The fullest expression of these concerns appeared with the 7 inch EP entitled "Backward Species," which combined an almost anthropological/New Historicist approach to humanity's violent practices. Songs such as "Koro Treatment" and "Heretic's Fork" are exemplary.
Artistically most of their releases had a similar design, with their trademark skull on both sides of the words Man Is The Bastard with the release title underneath in quotations. Frequently the liner notes would be just as simplistic. When they did have artwork it was often stark and brutal with a barebones layout.
Man Is the Bastard family tree:
In addition to the bands accomplishments, Man Is the Bastard exist as a nucleus around which many prominent bands can be traced within a recognizable lineage: Cyclops, Pillsbury Hardcore, Peace Corpse, Pissed Happy Children, Charred Remains, Neanderthal, Infest, No Comment, Loomis Slovak, Atavism of Twilight, Bastard Noise, Born Against, Djam Karet, Amps for Christ, Lux Nova Umbra Est, Our Scars are Gifts, Red Rockers, and more.
In the years since, Man Is the Bastard has splintered off into several working factions. Wood occasionally performs in the Los Angeles area as Bastard Noise. Kenyon and Connel have soldiered on in progressive rock acts such as Controlling Hand and Lux Nova Umbra Est. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Barnes' Amps for Christ, which has blossomed into a highly regarded folk/noise hybrid.
Man Is the Bastard's lyrical violence was balanced by their adamant advocacy of progressive ideals. This record of political activism resulted in their most widely available album, 1997's split LP with death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. They also frequently used ideas from obscure medical conditions in their songs and artwork.
The band often sublimated political concerns into a harsh and unique aesthetic. For example, during the first Gulf War, one of their releases featured cover art depicting Saddam Hussein being sodomized by George H.W. Bush.