When Systen of Hate rose from the ashes of local punk legends Total Confusion at the close of 2012, this self-proclaimed ‘dark punk’ band claimed to be influenced by Siouxise, Birthday Party, and PiL, and although debut EP highlights, Dark Winged Immortal and Am I Evil? were prime slabs of punk, they had more of an essence of The Ruts than their post-punk counterparts. Since then, System of Hate have played a shed-load of gigs all over the UK, including support slots with Angelic Upstarts, UK Subs, Peter & The Test Tube Babies and even had a slot at Rebellion Festival. Last summer, Danse Society’s Martin Roberts joined ranks on keyboards, fleshing out their sound. And now, this month, they released their eagerly awaiting second EP, Insanity.
If you’ve been following System of Hate over the last year, then you’ll be familiar with some of the songs collected here. The good news is that, with the addition of Martin and special guest Andy Blower on sax, System of Hate have created some true punk magic. Within just eleven minutes, Insanity clearly sets in stone the band’s manifesto; a true representation of exactly what the band set out to be from the start.
It’s opening, title-track hit you in the face with the butt of the saxophone from the off. Its energy is instant and the song does exactly what it needs to do in just over two minutes.The backing vocals on the chorus helps showcase the kind of atmosphere the boys give off on stage. It also confirms those Siouxsie influences, reminding me of early tracks like Suburban Relapse and Regal Zone.
Second track, Ashes of Divinity, is one of my favourite live numbers, and it’s Paddy’s bass that is actually one of my favourite things about System of Hate’s sound. The collision of the bass, drums and keyboards are fantastic. Everything has turned up a notch since the first record.
Suty has one of those curious snarling vocal tones that might be a bit love hate. Now I don’t know if it’s the various layers of vocals here or just that his pitch is actually lower this time round, but that snarl seems to have turned to an almighty growl, and I like it even more now.
The Dogs of War is another live favourite. You got that awesome bass again; and this time those keys remind me of The Damned at their darkest. And though you have the gothic theatrics, this political rant is as anthemic as the likes of The Ruts and Sham 69.
Closing track Infected is a new one to me and it’s a fine number to close on. It’s solid System of Hate – the sound of an anti-establishment boots marching over a dystopian gothic landscape.
From the off, System of Hate knew what they wanted to look and sound like, and I’m not quite sure they achieved that on the first record, however good as it was (and it was very good). Now, on the Insanity EP, they’ve up their game and got it bang on! They are a band with a cinematic sound and vision to be reckoned with. 2014 is System of Hate’s year of punk noir!
System of Hate launch Insanity EP at Barnsley’s The Polish Club on Sunday 23rd March. Doors are 5pm and free entry.