Pigs are an undeniably interesting five-piece – if the name didn’t already suggest it. They exist within the well mapped out mythology and sonic shorthand of the classic hard driving rock of the past – think Black Sabbath and Motörhead, mixed in with that one time you took homemade acid – which ultimately is both a blessing and a curse for the band. ‘Viscerals’ is their second full release, following the well-received album of last year ‘King of Cowards’ and this year’s release was planned to be more ambitious and well realised.
The record starts, you wait a moment then you’re gripped by the deep driving drums of ‘Reducer’, complimented by the irreverent hellish guitars and the droning vocals which create what I can only describe as a perfect fucking track. I’m not being hyperbolic – ‘Reducer’ will crack your skull open and pour liquid adrenaline on your dried, dusty cranium. Every aspect just clicks in just the right way. The instruments complement each other, giving both support and space to breathe which results in a fully realised sound.
They follow this up with ‘Rubbernecker’ which has a softer yet nightmarish quality, thanks to the echoing surrounding the lead vocals. The track is hard, and just hits that instinctual part of the brain causing you to gurn and nod your head in a trance. What a way to open this album: for eight minutes and fifty-five seconds you’ve been kidnapped by merciless mutant marauders, strapped into a flaming hot rod and now you’re drag racing the Devil through the molten track of hell. The heat from the engines bite your flesh, and the screams of the wicked and damned score your victory. Blood is boiling underneath your skin, but you do not care because you have never felt more fucking alive in your life than in this moment!
Unfortunately, the third track ‘New Body’ is where my issues with this release start to take shape. It’s a fine track, but it just doesn’t do anything particularly interesting with its extended run time. It’s an eight-minute epic, but the track doesn’t build to anything; there isn’t the satisfying climax that it seems to be teasing throughout, and it just ends up meandering. I recognise the desire for an explosive climax may stem from my punk roots, yet I feel that if you are going to do a track like this there needs to be something to justify the time. It just doesn’t do anything fresh – it just sits comfortably within the pre-established soundscape. On its own is fine, but the first two tracks did something new, whereas ‘New Body’ feels like a bloated extension which drags the record to a crawl.
‘Blood and Butter’ is the next track, though calling it a track is a stretch. This is a polar Flip: it’s short, coarse, and off kilter. It’s this dystopian, experimental piece and I appreciate it. Sure, this isn’t the funkiest, but it does everything I want. It’s interesting.
‘World Crust’ comes in fast and hard. The opening guitar rift isn’t anything particularly original but within a couple of seconds it’s hard not to be won over by the groove. It still fits within what the band have already put out and feels similar to what we have already heard, but thanks to the stellar production there’s an infectious energy that worms its way into your blood. I’m a fan, what can I say.
‘Crazy in Blood’ is another hit. It follows the formula that at this point you’re well accustomed to, but it’s very catchy with guitars that amplify the gravelly vocals and an infectious breakdown that doesn’t let you catch a moment. It’s nothing stellar, but also doesn’t subtract from the record.
‘Halloween Bolson’ is the penultimate track and this mother fucker is nine minutes long. I was struck with the worry that this would carry all of the sins of its father track ‘New Blood’ but I am elated to report that it doesn’t. I could listen to this track all day. It builds to pure chaos; it’s so well done. The instruments seem to be losing their grasp on reality and spiralling out of control, it seems messy until you take a step back and everything is exactly where it needs to be. Simply Glorious. This track proves how genius ‘Pigs’ can be when they give themselves the freedom to move. The final track titled ‘Hell’s Teeth’ is more akin to their earlier tracks, it’s fast, violent and addictive. There isn’t much to say, it’s a great track to close on and leaves you contemplating another spin of ‘Viscerals’.
Overall ‘Viscerals’ is a fantastic record. I may come off as harsh at times, but that’s because there is genius within this record, though at times they feel backed into a corner. When the band try something new or experiment it really shows off how talented these guys are, but too often it feels like they are constricted into the Pigs sound. Which is a shame as my only substantial criticism is that there aren’t enough risks. Sure, a record needs to feels like a cohesive piece, the tracks need to flow in a satisfying way whilst being able to stand on their own. Whereas on ‘Viscerals’ at times they can bleed into each other which can give it a monotonous feel. I genuinely adore this record although it frustrates me; it’s so close to perfection but doesn’t quite hit the mark. I am hoping for a follow up record, but I am plagued with worries that if they don’t expand their sound they may grow stale. Pigs have a lot of potential and I honestly believe that they are something special. Despite repetitive tracks and poor pacing at times, this is a strong release, and you should definitely give it a listen.
What have you got to lose?!