Barnsley bruisers System of Hate first came to my attention at the arse end of 2016 via the good offices of their excellent Unhallowed Ground album; A year and a bit later they return with a new effort, the almost permanently disgruntled There Is No Madness Here

Having said that – and there is a lot of anger being vented here – the overall sound of the band in 2018 seems a bit lighter, a bit brighter. The Stygian feel that enveloped Unhallowed Ground is largely gone, replaced by a harsher, cleaner atmosphere that is just as misanthropic but doesn’t weigh as heavily on the ears of the listener.

The feel is less straightforward this time around – where before the band were happy to wallow in a mire of post punk miserablism, there’s an urgency and an angularity to the music that translates well to their now more anger-fuelled modus operandi. Bands like Hellbastard and The Subhumans come to mind this time around, largely replacing the obvious Joy Division/Killing Joke reference points of days gone by.

The title track sees all this change coalesce most tangibly, with the band going the whole UK punk hog to create a song that, whilst definitely rooted in 1985 still has a spiky relevance both in delivery and intent. This is proper, pissed-off punk music, tinged with metal without ever giving in to the bluster and excess that association might indicate. If you like the idea of Amebix having a cider-fuelled barney with Voivod then this might well be for you. Even though Tau Cross already occupy that sonic territory…

Whatever, there is plenty about There Is No Madness Here to recommend it to listeners, familiar with System of Hate or not. The band know their style inside out, but aren’t afraid to push the envelope a little in terms of style and content. This a band clearly open to progression, and there’s a lot to like about that. Well worth a listen.

There Is No Madness Here is out now.