Louder Than War Records (LTW 019)
Dark 80’s style punk is back! System Of Hate have been steadily on the rise from the grim and gritty streets of Barnsley for the last 7 years or so,releasing a fine pair of Ep, a couple of really interesting remix ep’s and a full album under their own steam, and playing all over the UK and a place on the main stage at Rebellion last year, and agin this year. There Is No Madness Here sees them releasing their second album on Louder Tham War records. I make no appologies for being more a bit excited to hear where they have taken their dark punk on this record, having heard a couple pre-release tracks to wet the appetite the odds were strong on a step forward on production and song writing suss. So when I got the review pack I couldn’t wait to dim the lights, and dive right in…..
First up, There Is No Madness Here, the title track and deservedly so. An up tempo call to arms, for the recognition of what feels like the end of days, right here and now! The vocals sound especially huge and empassioned, driven by the powerful lyrics and raging need to be heard and paid heed to.
Black Fire sees the copyrighted catchy/throbbing bassline from Paddy drive the song through a claustrophibic Sisters Of Mercy style guitar hook. Swithes of atmospheric keyboards and a very clever echo treatment on the vocals. The track has echoes of almost Prong meets Killing Joke heaviness in the verses. A punchy heavy weight start to proceedings then!
Then we have We Who Walk With God, no prizes for guessing who is the target for Sutty’s ire here! Empassioned and raging vocals “Stigmatise, idolise! Throw it all to the dogs!” certainly no fan of the collective works of the Pontiffs then!…. A tribal Killing Joke style stomper, that feels like Igor Cavalera god Big Paul’s drum stool for the day!
Next up, In The Shadow Of The Cross delves into Sutty’s recurring issues with organised religion and there’s lots of Catholisism and it’s imagery crop up in his lyrics. “Tears of your forgiveness, fall on stony ground.”…….. This track has heavy polished Amebix feel to it, and a clever middle section that Andrew Eldritch would be proud of.
With a title like Your God Is Dead you’d be right not expect a gentle ballad. We are treated to an epic intro that feeds into a catchy, chugging beast of a song Sutty’s vocals have a snarling aggressive tone to get his point accross here. Lots of ethereal keyboards from guest player Martin who stepped down from live work a while ago now. Some very melodic picked out guitar from Pat provide some tidy hooks and the song closes with massive chanting “YOUR GOD IS DEAD!”, subtlty is not required with that message.
Tears Of Blood is another high point on the album, with guitar intro from Pat that a certain Mr Sullivan wouldn’t be averse to using to relight the No Rest era’s hey day for Bradford’s favourite clog dancers of old. Sutty’s vocals on this track are on especially angry rude form, as he rails against the religious tyranny and slaughter in the name of the Papalcy’s favourite imaginary friend.
“The land will bleed relentless, Retching on your lies!” Powerful and evocative stuff to get your ears around is this!
Resurected may just be my favourite track off the album, but it’s not easy to choose I admit. This one has punchy Killing Joke feel, via another powerful bass line from Paddy’s Fender Precision. Carl must have been channeling his best Dave Grohl on this recording, he sounds like he is excorcising Grohl’s ghosts from recording with Jaz Coleman back in 2003! Awesome stuff!
Then we have Rising, with more punishment for Paddy’s bass driving things along, and a healthy dose of call and answer style backing vocals. Layers of guitar from Pat mark out this track, and it has a feel of Love era Cult. The layers all weaving a melodic and swirling sound scape to get lost in.
Ill Are The Cursed rolls in on a carpet of lush keyboards, into another one of Paddy’s tight and beefy basslines. Again a step forawrd in the vocals, with some more melodic dymanics on display, something that can be lost on some of the darker punk outfits. This track could hold it’s own with any of the big 80’s dark punk/alternative outfits. Shimmering guitar hooks and a big fat chorus to stick in your head like an icepick. The whole feel of this track has me thinking of Dreamtime era Billy Duffy ousting Wayne from the spotlight and making the Mission a much heavier proposition altogether.
The album is closed down with The System Of Hate moniker finally imortalised in song, and in fine style. Lots of Sisters Of Mercy style bass and guitar interlocking and some really effective backing vocals to give the chorus a bigger more epic feel. The whole album has much bigger sound and feel in all departments to Unhallowed Ground. Which is no critisism of the last album, just noting the forward motion of the lads, and the honing of their craft as they develop System Of Hate into a bigger, more powerful and menacing beast. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment!