There is certainly a very loud, ongoing argument about whether heavy metal is inherently political or inherently apolitical. The argument has certainly heated up on the social medias lately and boy oh boy do people want their opinion on the matter heard (by pretty much everyone). A fun way around falling victim to that behavior is to review a band like All Pigs Must Die, because punk and hardcore are inherently, unabashedly political. Thus, I get to be a total prick, force you to kneel and listen to my opinions while praising some absolutely killer, smash-you-upside-the-head hardcore with plenty of metal and punk influences.
As the NFL loses their collective shit over Colin Kaepernick and the peaceful demonstrations (kneeling) against the ceaseless, senseless and horrific murders of our black brothers and sisters in America, very few bands have the clout necessary to speak succinctly and effectively on the matter. Some don’t even have to, perhaps their name alone says it all. All Pigs Must Die is competent enough do both. For those that don’t already know, they’ve got cred and talent: Kevin Baker of The Hope Conspiracy, Ben Koller of Converge and Mutoid Man (and a million other things), Matt Wentworth (ex-The Red Chord), Matt Woods of Bloodhorse, and Brian Izzi (ex-Trap Them, R.I.P.) of December Wolves.
Labels: Southern Lord
Tracks like “Cruelty Incarnate” evoke a range of emotions. While not the longest track on the album, it’s a journey for the listener. Opening in a more punk fashion, single guitar calling the band to arms, All Pigs Must Die power up behind the guitar embarking on a blistering track of full hardcore fury. The one-two kick of bass and snare frequently breaking into short breakdowns, fills and turnarounds. Shortly, the pace slows as the vocals march to the front barking a myriad of death methods for the cruel as a thin, mournful guitar line swims over the top. Perhaps uncharacteristic of the overall approach of Hostage Animal, “Cruelty Incarnate” draws on the band’s multitude of experience to show their ability and depth.
Alternately, the opener / title-track puts forth some of the heaviest music All Pigs Must Die have released to date. Tearing out of the gate it’s a testament to their approach: pummeling the listener about the head and ass with powerfully driven, cohesive instrumentation that simply demands submission. It’s also characteristic of what made the band so immediately successful upon their formation in 2010: crust-free, unapologetic hardcore being expertly handled by a quintet of veterans. Similarly, the blistering “A Caustic Vision,” at under two minutes, is a punch in the gut reminiscent of their 2013 release Nothing Violates This Nature where the band ripped straightforward hardcore with discordant melodies and accents.
Around “Slave Morality,” the fifth track, the album begins to open up. The blistering pace slackens and the experience and talent of the quintet are revealed. While the frenetic pace will return (“Blood Wet Teeth” and “Moral Purge”) it’s the more open tracks, like the aforementioned “Cruelty Incarnate,” that truly sets All Pigs Must Die apart from the sea of similars. Their ability to splice metalcore with hardcore and slide between the punkier side of things is most evident on the more expansive tracks. It’s not like All Pigs Must Die are reinventing the wheel, but, with the cessation of Trap Them, they are probably doing it better than anyone else on the planet right now.
Politics will forever be a gateway for people to get into heavy music, and we should embrace that as a culture (of sorts). It doesn’t matter how we got here, it matters that we’re here now. And it matters that we have bands like All Pigs Must Die to help get us here. The Massachusetts hardcore scene was the initiator of an infinite number of metalheads, punks and hardcore shitheels, and out of the ashes of the idea that punching people in the face is the best way to prove your supremacy has been birthed a multitude of excellent metalcore and, more recently, some killer hardcore. Just down the road from where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady endorse Donald Trump and implore players to stand for the anthem, All Pigs Must Die hold out hope that things can change, get better and progress for society as a whole.