By James Fleming
Feedback, string-bends, distortion; all rock n’ roll clichés done to death ever since Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? Every bar band across the world uses these banal prosaisms to coax “feeling,” out of their stratocasters. But in the hands of Stevenage’s Bad Breeding, these worn-out tricks are given a new lust for life. A murderous, psychotic lust.
While some bands eschewe such techniques in order to invent wildly new ways of making music, Bad Breeding have taken them and violently twisted them into their brand of sophisticated hardcore to create a sound that is a refreshing burst of originality in a genre that can get as repetitive as punk.
By expertly combining elements of noise-rock into their mostly hardcore-leaning sound, Bad Breeding crafted a song in ‘Remembering,’ that has cemented their reputation as underground sound-smiths of the most punishing sort. The drums maintain a constant, shit-kicking battering throughout, while the riffs stop and start over the top. Simple, yet frenzied riffs, that can skin a rhino at a hundred paces, such is their razor-sharp edge.
Combining the aforementioned bends and distortion to blistering effect, the guitar work on ‘Remembering,’ melds perfectly with the bedrock-solid foundation of the rattling bass and storming snare pattern. When the solo arrives, the tremolo-picked blitzkreig that it is, it’s a glorious moment.
Hardcore is not a guitar solo’s natural territory. So, even if it was an awful solo, it would still be a sign of incredibly bravery from Bad Breeding to stick one in there. Luckily for us, it’s an awesome solo. A wondrously dissonant and abrasive shock of lead guitar, it doesn’t outstay its welcome, nor is it too short. It rips out of the speakers like a rabid greyhound and breaks the competitions’ legs before they can even start the race.
‘Remembering,’ also proves that there are in fact young bands out there expressing the frustration of the age. Dealing with the lofty theme of the “misuse of institutional power,” Bad Breeding are a testament to the building rage of the young generation, and they have chosen to express it through blistered fingers and shredded vocal cords.
The only issue here is that the lyrics are almost undecipherable, and so, the message is somewhat lost. Of course, a general feeling of discontent and fury is evident in the sound. But the specifics of the message are thrown to the wind.
Which is why Bad Breeding will, more than likely, not be the catalyst for a new wave of angry guitar bands to suddenly explode into the world’s vision, like The Sex Pistols or Nirvana. Even if you couldn’t understand the lyrics, the attitude that both punk and the alt-rock boom of the early nineties expressed had never been made so apparent in mainstream pop-culture.
But, just like in the mid to late seventies and the early nineties, our world really needs a shot of anger and adrenaline. So while Bad Breeding won’t be hearing their rage on RTÉ Radio anytime soon, they are a sure sign that rage and originality are once again starting to mix and melt together. Thank God.