PIG – The Gospel

Posted: 17 August 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Metropolis Records – 9th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Halleluja! Praise the Lard! The god of gammon himself, Raymond Watts, returns with another PIG album after what feels like far too long away. In fact, the last PIG album was Pigmata, a remastered and expanded version of the Watts album Pigmartyr (2004) in 2005. That’s over a decade ago. Apart from a couple of EPs, including the Long in the Tooth one-off with Primitive Race, Watts has been suspiciously quiet. But The Gospel shows that no, he’s not run out of ideas, he’s just a bit of a perfectionist. Armed with a plethora of porcine puns – as is standard – and an abundance of grating industrial guitars, he’s on fine form, and if anything, the time away has refreshed his creative impetus.

Accompanied this time around by ‘partners in swine’, En Esch, Z. Marr, Guenter Schulz & Mark Thwaite (Primitive Race), Watts has assembled a collective with a crack(l)ing pedigree, and the resultant album delivers all the hallmarks of classic PIG in the form of gnarly industrial grooves with panache with a whiff of postmodern parody.

Single cut ‘The Diamond Sinners’ gets the album off to a fairly sedate start, but its mid-tempo simmer still packs plenty of grunt ‘n’ grind, before ‘Found in Filth’ slams down a gloriously trashy and quintessentially PIG industrial thrashabout, only it’s altogether poppier than the majority of previous material, with ‘woo-ooh!’ backing vocals seemingly lifted from The Dandy Warhols’ ‘Bohemian Like You’. Such unexpected twists and apparent incongruities are precisely what makes PIG such an exciting proposition, and why Watts remains one of the most interesting figures to have emerged from the whole late 80s technoindustrial scene as represented by Wax Trax! and the KMFDM collective (of whom Watts was a one-time member, as well as being part of the Foetus live lineup on the extensive tour of Thaw, which yielded the official live album Male and the unofficial but in some respects superior Rife album).

‘Toleration of Truth’ slows it down and goes for epic territory, although you’d be hard-pressed to call it an anthem, despite its climactic guitar solo or lighter-waving tone but ‘Missing the Mainline’ has real lighter-waving potential and offers up one of Watts’ most emotionally heavy – and overtly commercial – vocal deliveries to date. That isn’t to say that with The Gospel PIG have sold out: they’ve always been an act given to exploration and their extensive back-catalogue isn’t short on killer hooks or emotional resonance, as tracks like ‘Save Me’ from Wrecked evidence. 

‘Drugzilla’, previously featured on the Compound Eye Sessions EP, emerged as a collaboration between Watts and Marc Heal (Ashtrayhead, Cubanate) as MC Lord of the Flies but as this – the first official PIG release in a decade – was only given a physical run of 500 it’s fair to say it’s inclusion here is welcome., not least of all because it’s a stonking track. ‘Found in Filth’, which appeared on the aforementioned ‘Diamond Sinners’ release as remixed by Marc Heal also appears in its ‘original’ form. The gritty Americana ‘The Fly On The Pin’ is uncharacteristically delicate, but with its flamenco guitars contrasting with the snarling bassline, it’s another example of Watts expanding his sonic palette to good effect. ‘I’m So Wrong’ has hefty hints of Bowie as Watts bursts into a soaring chorus, providing the most pop moment of PIG’s career to date. But this is no sell-out: it’s merely a progression, and even early tracks like ‘Shit For Brains’ were ultimately hooky and accessible.

If The Gospel lacks the immediacy or soaring orchestration of Sinsation or Wrecked, and fails to replicate the innovation or eclecticism of Red Raw & Sore or The Swining, it’s still by no means lacklustre. It’s a more considered work than some of the later albums, and lyrically, Watts is on fine form. While still pulling together and corrupting clichés and popular phrases in a postmodern parody of lyricism, and demonstrating that he learned a fair amount from JG Thirlwell, he’s expanding his spheres of reference and demonstrates some neat flourishes here.

Everything that’s classic PIG is in place here: churning guitars, insistent bats, grating synths and snarling vocals delivered with a blend of heavy postmodern irony and emotional sincerity. Put simply, The Gospel has all of the defining aspects of PIG and no shortage of killer tunes. Let pundemoneum reign.



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  4. […] sunk, spent, stopped. The phoenix-like re-emergence with first The Diamond Sinners EP, followed by The Gospel flexed muscles only hinted at on the tentative collaborations with Marc Heal and Primitive Race the […]

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