July 8th, 2022, sees the release of the latest Bad Breeding LP ‘Human Capital’ via One Little Independent Records and Iron Lung Records in the US. The Stevenage-based hardcore-punk foursome are calling for solidarity in this their fourth album. Human Capital is a pointed and brutal display of aggression steeped in political awareness and they attack Conservative meritocracy and the exploitative forces of late capitalism with a cacophony of blistering guitars and thunderous drums played with an intensity that refuses to abate.
Bad Breeding comprise of Chris Dodd (vocals), Angus Gannagé (guitar), Charlie Rose (bass), and Ashlea Bennett (drums). They draw influence from the original British pioneers of the anarcho-punk scene; Crass, Rudimentary Peni, and Flux of Pink Indians. Formed in 2013, the group utilized their sense of anger, Stevenage’s isolation, and the political landscape in the UK and the world as their starting point.
Between the singles off Human Capital, and their last releases (2019’s LP Exiled and their 2018 Abandonment EP), they’ve garnered support and airplay from DIY, Loud & Quiet, NPR, The Quietus, MOJO, Uncut, BBC Radio 1 and 6Music. This is only going to increase after this LP.
Across the 12 tracks on Human Capital, the speed, ferocity and sheer brutal intensity never lets up. Opening with ‘Community’, it has a menacingly slow and sludgy intro with the trademark vocal work of Chris Dodd, interspersed with spasmodic blasts of 100mph instrumentation. It has great riffing and ends up being surprisingly tuneful despite the anger and rage going on over the top. What an opener. ‘Joyride’ has another menacing and sonically breath-taking intro. The bass throb is infectious, and is throughout this album to be honest. Dodd’s lyrics are spat out at a rate of knots – two tracks in and I’m once again exhausted by the intensity and authenticity of this band. I thought Exiled was powerful. You ain’t heard nothing yet.
Latest single ‘Prescription’ is a chaotic 2 minutes 28 seconds that Minor Threat would be proud of. Bad Breeding really show their hardcore chops off here with blistering stop start guitar and bass work, feedback and Dodd’s vocals hammering home the sonic nails in our craniums. Just fucking brilliant.
‘Misdirection’ and ‘Arc Eye’ have both blistering vocal deliveries and have guitar, bass and drum attacks on all of the senses. Imagine this in a packed gig? There’d be bodies flying everywhere! This is what the UK needs and deserves now.
First single ‘Human Capital’ has that bass (!), down-beat guitar chord progression and Dodd’s vocals all combine to create quite a tight and claustrophobic opening to the lead single. That is until we reach 2.32 when all bets are off and it’s balls to the wall hardcore. This then leads into a controlled and measured release of malevolent pressure right to the final 4.46 fade. Bloody good stuff.
‘Nostalgia Trip’ opens with such a riff! Utterly chaotic hardcore punk that feels like it could fall apart at any moment. And for me, that is the tension that gives the excitement of bands. Also, the squealing feedback, Dodd’s relentlessly abrasive and in your face vocals. The drums and bass working harder than a No.10 spokesperson for Bozo the fucking clown’s government. ‘Red Flag Rising’ is 1.51 of pure frustration, anger and the always enveloping corrosive instrumentation. ‘Death March Replacement’ has THAT bass again! It really is an integral part of this band’s sound and a force for getting their message across like a hammer to the head.
Penultimate track ‘Straw Men Replacement’ has squealing feedback that leads to 1.28 of absolute unadulterated and uncompromising hardcore. ‘Rebuilding’ has more squealing feedback that welcomes the slowest and most measured drums, bass and guitar part of this LP. However, as an LP sign off, it’s incredibly powerful and this whole LP is exactly what any 21st Century band should sound like with what is fucking going on with this government at the moment.
Bad Breeding are one of few bands at the moment that appear to speak up for the UK’s ground down underclass and are genuinely angry and concerned at how this country of ours is governed and ruled. Human Capital is a triumph of an album and Bad Breeding are a band that are a serious force to be reckoned with. Ignore at your peril.
As with all Bad Breeding releases, Human Capital is accompanied by an essay by long-time collaborator Jake Farrell, this time titled ‘Atoms’. The manifesto of sorts is an almost 2000-word essay riffing on the situation Farrell describes as; “we are marooned on our islands of self-obsession by cultural forces that emphasise our differences, keeping us apart and suspicious of one another. It feels as though in recent years, especially during the immediate onslaught of austerity following the 2008 financial crisis, that the idea of community itself was under attack”.
‘Atoms’ is a powerful statement on the current mental health crisis and what the (lack thereof) provision of help available is having on the health and wellbeing of the UK population. You can read ‘Atoms’ here and view the essay artwork here.
Human Capital is out now – order/stream/download here
Bad Breeding Live dates 2022
20/04/2022 – NL, Tilburg – Roadburn Festival
21/04/2022 – NL, Amsterdam – OCCII
22/04/2022 – BE, Antwerp – Music City
23/04/2022 – FRA, Paris – Supersonic
06/07/2022 – UK, Liverpool – Quarry
07/07/2022- UK, Edinburgh – The Banshee Labyrinth
09/07/2022 – UK, Manchester – Talleyrand
14/07/2022 – UK, Nottingham – Chameleon
15/07/2022 – UK, London – Moth Club
16/07/2022 – UK, Bristol – Crofters
22/07/2022 – UK, Hastings – The Crypt
23/07/2022 – UK, Guildford – The Boiler Room
Review by Ioan Humphreys