The Clothiers Arms in Elsecar have just completed their second successful night of live music and this time it was one for the punks. Headlining was Leeds’ The Kingcrows, a bunch of gutter punks dressed in over the top cartoon clobber like bullet belts, goggles and WWII leather caps. Although I had to leave mid-set for that last train home, what I did hear was the kind of fun punk that your mum would not dis-like, definitely along the lines of New York Dolls or The Damned. It seems that the Clothiers have been successful in getting another quality act from the Ridings, however, I’d have to settle for a full set another time.
The real reason for my attendance though was to see Barnsley’s System of Hate. It was only their second live show and as they took to the floor in their regulation all black – no labels, any nerves the four piece might have had were kicked to shit with the opening number Insanity. Garden of Gethsemane is instantly likable dark, hard punk in the same vein as The Ruts but with lyrical themes that are more Danzig or The Birthday Party. System of Hate aren’t your usual Barnsley punks.
The chorus of the brilliant Fractured even has a faint whiff of Welcome to Hell era Venom about it and on one particular song, I thought Dave was singing ‘gutless’ but turns out it was actually ‘godless’ on God is Dead and was kind of better for it. The intro to Zealots Path was as urgent as California Uber Alles was and Sins of Father is a diatribe against Catholicism and/or the government.
Even though I went in there only knowing the four tracks from the EP, I left knowing most of the set because every single song has a memorable hook you can cling on to and here, just like on their EP, my highlight is still Am I Evil?. It’s on that number and songs like Dogs of War, when Dave’s snarl is backed up by those reverb heavy bass-lines and those Warsaw-like riffs that System of Hate are at their best. They add something extra and dark to punk without turning into some kind of parody.