Iron Lung / One Little Independent
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Temple of Victory
02. Survival
03. Devotion
04. Liberty
05. Discipline
06. Retribution
07. Gilded Cage / Sanctuary
08. Vacant Paradise
09. Idolatry
10. Contempt

At a time in history when common sense dictates that people should be fucking furious at the state of the world and society's powerlessness to affect lasting change, bands like BAD BREEDING are still in woefully short supply. A resolute force for good for the last decade, this UK quartet have spent the last few years churning out exhilarating and righteously irate records that took the rudiments of anarcho-punk and noisy hardcore and hurled them back in the terrified faces of the capitalist elite with laudable levels of venom and intelligence. Ruthlessly focused on the here and now, and instinctively resistant to the limp acquiescence of most contemporary punk, BAD BREEDING make an unholy racket that really matters.

If their genre-shredding sound wasn't striking and individual enough, this band also make a point of providing material that shines further light on the issues that drive these scabrous tunes. "Contempt" is accompanied by a flurry of essays, focusing on homelessness, pollution and animal rights. Eloquent and informative, they ensure that BAD BREEDING are able to back up their bug-eyed rage with genuine insight and passionate polemic.

But none of that would matter if the music wasn't up to scratch. The principal reason why this band are such an important voice in the underground punk world is that everything they have released has been utterly ferocious and original. Previous albums like "Human Capital" (2022) and "Exiled" (2019) were predicated on that fierce, punk rock rush, but elements of abstract noise, industrial and oddball sludge often crept into the mix, resulting in overwhelming blasts of impassioned brutality, rendered in multiple shades of bloody monochrome. "Contempt" is undoubtedly rooted in the same musical soil, but BAD BREEDING have never sounded as big or as menacing as they do here. Songs like seething, predatory opener "Temple Of Victory" and recent single "Survival" are still resolutely raw as all hell, but producer Ben Greenberg has imbued everything with muscularity and a strange, abrasive clarity: guitars howl and protest, the noise and feedback grows in intensity, and a near-chewable sense that BAD BREEDING are the living embodiment of a spontaneous street riot is hard to ignore. This thing has an absurd amount of adrenalin running through it.

If you like your punk rock to be melodic and goofy, "Contempt" is not for you. This is the sound of the disenfranchised spitting out their disgust, and it rarely pauses to dodge a brick. Short, sharp assaults like "Survival" and "Devotion" take the out-of-control aggression and defiance of CONFLICT and CRASS and turbocharge them beyond acceptable limits. Longer and weirder tracks like the maxed-out, hardcore hell-storm of "Discipline" and the post-rock-with-a-split-skull rallying cry of "Gilded Cage/Sanctuary" exude dark, dissident vapors and frequently edge towards all-out chaos.

BAD BREEDING seldom make things easy for the listener. "Contempt" is insanely exciting, but it is also weighed down with its creators' feverish disdain for the world around them. The result is a ridiculously heavy and emotionally grueling piece of work that has as much in common with FULL OF HELL and NAPALM DEATH as it does with DISCHARGE. The system may be fucked, but its desperate soundtrack is unbelievably thrilling.

Author: Dom Lawson
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