PIG – Pain Is God

Posted: 3 November 2020 in Albums
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Metropolis Records – 20th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Despite their associations with both KMFDM and Foetus (Raymond Watts has been a touring member of both, and En Esch has returned the favour by contributing to PIG), and playing as the main support to Nine Inch Nails on the European leg of the Downward Spiral tour and releasing albums on Interscope around the turn of the millennium, PIG remain something of an obscurity, a band revered by those in the know. I can’t help but think that it’s because, for all their adoption of the aggrotech / technoindustrial stylings of KMFDM, and the grandiose extravagance of Foetus, they don’t really sit comfortably anywhere.

Their recent releases, which have been coming thick and fast in the past few years, while adhering to the fundamentals of their earlier blueprints, with thumping beats and grating, heavily processed guitars, have taken a poppier, and also more glam leaning. It’s a style that suits the flamboyant Watts, who’s always revelled in the theatrical and the performance aspects of rock ‘n’ roll. Pain is God continues to incorporate the glammy elements that first came to the fore on 2016’s The Gospel, particularly on stomping single cut ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Refugee’ – but then, this is being a PIG album, it incorporates so many elements, spanning eurodisco, industrial, and aggrotech, all tessellated together to form a perfect assembly. The ‘Militant Mix’ of ‘Mobocracy’ (the original version of which was the lead track on a limited tour-only EP released last year) melds grating slabs of industrial guitar to a thumping dancefloor beat, breaking down to piano and grand strings.

‘Badland’ brings a bold funk strut and a barrel load of brash brass. Orchestral details lace the slow grinding greasy girth of ‘The Wages of Sin’, while ‘Kickin Ass’ does just that, with a thick bass groove and a guitar line that’s more hair rock than glam rock, but still manages to avoid being remotely corny. The lighter-waving anthemic ‘Suffer no More’ which draws the curtain on the album does teeter perilously close, but gets a pass by virtue of its incongruity and sheer audacity.

If the album and song titles are thin on porcine puns, the themes and tropes are the same as they’ve been since the very start of Watts’ career under the PIG moniker – sex, death, pain, evil – with a generous scattering of religious references, predominantly around Catholicism (the cover art is a reasonable starting point), and a superabundant splattering of sleaze. And with the sultry seduction of ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’ Watts manages to shoehorn in one of his signature triple alliterations. For some reason, it never gets tired. I suspect this is, at least in part, because Pig balance all the self-knowing parody, the supersaturation of cliché and repetition with a flair for invention, stylistic range and, above all, decent tunes.

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