I was completely unaware of these guys until recently, I was contacted by Pat (guitar) with a view to having me review their current and 2nd album "There is No Madness Here" I thought it was a good name and figured it would be some intense crust punk! I was completely wrong!
System Of Hate formed in Barnsley, Yorkshire from the ashes of Total Confusion in 2012 recording their debut EP "Immortal" in the same year followed by 1st album "Unhallowed Ground" in 2016 When i first listened to this album I was initially put off by the slightly gruff/throaty vocals in the first song and almost called a halt to getting involved right there, but I thought it was only fair to give the whole album a listen and I am so glad I did! The first thing that is apparent here is that the production, for an underground release is HUGE the drums pound the guitars soar and klang and the bass underpins it all with a great clean bottom end and the big surprise for me was I didn't notice at first but there are also keyboards (supplied by Martin Roberts Ex-Danse Society) now whilst the word keyboards may have sent punks running in this case they work really well in pushing the bands already impressive dynamic to a higher peak! I also noted that the throaty vocals that had put me off in the first song become slightly less throaty and make much more sense with their sound as the album progresses!
This band have definitely got their boots firmly planted in the post punk arena, whilst a lot of bands/artists with a long history in punk seem to be leaning more to a post punk influence and sound particularly when forming new bands (Tau Cross for example) these guys are going the full hog here but this isn't retro leaning or boring old rehash these guys have taken the sound and made something entirely their own of it it wears it's Killing Joke influence very clearly but doesn't just straight up rip off that sound it's more just a feel i get from the music this sounds fresh and vital not like some lost relic from the 80's.
What i like about this band is the sense of drama they create within the music "We Who Walk With God" & "Black Fire" being good examples of this But they also have songs that burst with the youthful energy that attracted us all to punk in the first place like the 3 & 1/2 minute "Your God Is Dead" and the slightly longer "Ressurected" which just bursts out of your speakers!!! but never forsaking the dramatic keyboard sweeps or pounding drums that are crucial to the sound for the sake of sheer velocity, and the combination of elements within their sound manages to convey the anger of youthful punk influence with the restraint that comes with a whole lot of life experience!
This album is a fantastic listen it's at once a kinda familiar and comfortable listen because it's sound does have it's foundation in a genre that is a good 40 years down the line now but on repeated listens there's so many surprises and unexpected twists and turns and plenty of variety in the song writing it's not just one song after another of a similar theme it continues to keep your attention from track to track and is definitely forward thinking despite it's vintage influence.
If there's one drawback to this album it's that because they aren't teenagers and their sound does in part pull from older bands it's likely that the appeal of this band might be limited to older heads like myself who have been thrilled by the likes of the aforementioned Tau Cross and the recently resurrected Antisect (though it would seem i am pretty much alone in liking "Rising Of The Lights") If that's your sort of thing and it is mine then you will absolutely love this album but I can't help but think that the songs are so well written, memorable, dramatic and dynamic and dare i say in some cases downright danceable ("Rising" definitely had me wanting to boogie!) I can't help but think the younger kids who live for their vast array of sub-genres and worship stuff with similar influences made by black clad bands barely in their 20's would most likely love this album! I hope with this review and the help of others giving them a push that this album could break to an audience of people under 40.
The album is out on John Robb's Louder than War records on CD & limited Vinyl tomorrow (Fri 3rd of August) I shall furnish you with all the links you need below. here's hoping Robb's seal of approval gets this band out to a wider audience as I had never heard of them till they contacted me and I am gutted they are on their 2nd album before i did! A proper good surprise a fantastically crafted album and will most definitely have me going back for more!
here's a little teaser for you....
SYSTEM OF HATE
Band Website - HERE (links to their various social media here too)
LOUDER THAN WAR RECORDS
Website/Mail Order - HERE
Facebook - HERE