Break Them – No One Left EP

Peterborough in Cambridgeshire often wins the unwanted prize for the worst town in England when people redirect their hatred away from Luton or Doncaster. In this instance, “worst” means shit. Though it has one of the finest Cathedrals in Europe and holds one of the three original copies of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Peterborough is now a social experiment where high levels of immigration from Eastern Europe have changed the demographics beyond recognition and put intolerable pressure on public services. Many locals resent the accelerated pace of social change in their town, while others have embraced it and welcome the dynamism and work ethic of the new arrivals. Hardcore quintet, Break Them, are the sound of the social tension that exists in the English Fenlands. It’s violent and intolerant and enthralling enough to win your attention.

As you’d expect from a hardcore band, No One Left is a vitriolic attack on reactionary politics with no time for building bridges across the divide. Opener, ‘100 Scalps/No One Left’, starts with a sample of Brad Pitt’s roaring pep talk from Inglorious Basterds over the top of a Biohazard groove and gives you an excuse to gurn and grit your teeth like a method actor preparing to play an ANTIFA character in a BBC drama. Nothing about the musicianship stands out, but, hey, this is hardcore – who cares? Down-picking metal riffs and gnarly vocals enunciated in a regional accent are most welcome when the defining message is a big fuck off and die to fascists everywhere. The pulse and tempo will incite an adrenaline surge in your veins. What more do you want?

‘Light the Match’ is sensible enough to avoid any semblance of hardcore punk in favour of a sludgy, drop-tuned dirge. The rhythmic attack is faster but no less mighty in its audio menace. Break Them’s message is that they will not be broken. Nor should you be. Those tormentors and doubters that disrespected you in the past need to understand one thing – the time has come to cave their skulls in with a baseball bat. The mid-tempo thrash on display makes clever use of repetition to ram home this message. “No time for forgiveness – no time for sympathy,” roars vocalist, Tom Amos, on follow-up, ‘Burn the Bridge’. Here, a clean guitar intro segues into a chunky Hatebreed groove, but the aim is to make the music serve the lyrics. This is the one weakness of the EP. Fellow Cambridgeshire hardcore mob, Own Your Life, show what you can do with a no-frills genre when you open it up to extreme metal influences and embrace its technical complexities.

There’s nothing wrong with the crunch of the guitars on this record but writing hardcore with metal riffs requires more imagination. ‘Still I Drown’ would benefit from more velocity in the drum approach, but the foundations of the song merit repeat listens. The punishing staccato dynamics in closing track, ‘Off My Chest’, offer a glimpse into the band’s future direction. Break Them are still getting to know each other’s capabilities as musicians. Maybe we can expect them to incorporate more advanced rhythm formations on their next release.

There might be few reasons to visit Peterborough these days, but Break Them are one of them. The town needs a voice even if it’s a virtuous but divisive one.



Release Date: 14/04/2023

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Light the Match, Still I Drown

Suggested Further Listening: Borstal – At Her Majesty’s Pleasure EP (2021), Swim or Drown – Torment EP (2022), Own Your Life – This Hate EP (2023)