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SYSTEM OF HATE – ‘Unhallowed Ground’ Album Review

SYSTEM OF HATE – Unhallowed Ground

system-of-hateThe vaguely middle eastern keyboard opening to the track Rogue Apostle briefly engages the listener before System of Hate launch into a monster guitar riff and vocal treatment that reminded me of Killing Joke. The album from these punk rockers from Barnsley in the fertile musical region of South Yorkshire England is a barnstormer. Released last month, Unhallowed Ground is aggressive yet sophisticated. Kiss The World (1916) begins with a snippet of a Northern brass band and then sits you back as it launches into a rhythmic/tribal Amebix style assault on your senses.

System of Hate have appeared at Rebellion (this summer was their 4th consecutive appearance) and have supported legends such as Discharge, Sham 69, Vice Squad, UK Subs and The Angelic Upstarts. The bass heavy introduction to Crucified builds into a keyboard led chorus as the track powers along at a tremendous pace. Three songs in and I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of having discovered the next wave of punk. System of Hate are lyrically dark, musically powerful but full of hooks and melody that are very compelling. I simply loved Antichrist with it’s blending of the Killing Joke and Amebix influences to create a sound that only Rudimentary Peni have come close to over the years.

The album reached the half-way point with Santoria, a track that is propelled by a strong beat, huge walls of guitar, a chanted multi-vocal chorus and a keyboard solo…if this isn’t the perfect punk sound for 2016, I’m not sure what is. Unhallowed Ground is extremely well produced and that’s a blessing as these folks write complex songs where every instrument has an important role. On Zealot’s Path the addition of a saxophone adds that Theatre of Hate ambiance and that feeling is cemented by the superb bass guitar up-front in the mix.


System of Hate

The band are far from monolithic in their approach or sound and can deliver some straight up punk rock as they do on Mutilation albeit with melodic backing vocals adding to the mosaic. Apostle Of Pain brings forward the menacing keyboards creating a bloodcurdling wall of sound truly fitting the lyrics. It’s a super track clocking in at four minutes and precedes the shortest track on the album, Killing Fields where the band bash out a tribal powerhouse of a song that had me back in Rudimentary Peni land.

The album closes with the mammoth seven minute long title track Unhallowed Ground. The bass guitar kicks in hard and fast, is joined by drums and a building keyboard and the guitar adds to the construction. For over 100 seconds, the song builds before we are surprised with a Sisters of Mercy style melodic vocal. It’s a track that you can see being used in movies, adverts and as backing to sports clips. It’s also a fitting end to a tremendous album. One of the best of 2016 for me!


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  1. Our pleasure. Excellent album

  2. Fantastic review Thank you very much for your support.


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