Posts Tagged ‘PIG’

16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Initially intended as a straight follow up to their 2019 debut, Digital Scars, Chemical Violence evolved as a more technoindustrial work, with less primacy given to the guitars. But having said that, the band explain that they were keen to present a range of elements across the album: ‘We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant.’

The album slams straight in with the shuddering synths and thumping beats with the hard-edged stomp of ‘Prototype’. The vocals are gnarly, mangled, snarling, robotic – yes, derivative of Twitch era Ministry and a million Wax Trax! releases from 86-89, but that’s entirely the idea.

It was The Wedding Present who turned a negative music review into a T-Shirt bearing the slogan ‘all the songs sound the same’ and while it served to turn the criticism back on itself, it raises the very fair question of ‘what’s the problem?’ Certain genres particularly require a significant level of sameness.

Dance music is necessarily constructed around a narrow range of tempos, and this strain of electro-centric industrial is in many respects, an aggressive rendition of dance music (no, I’m not going to call it fucking EDM. Or EBM, either. Because there is just so much tribal wankery around genres, and rebranding shit doesn’t make it new shit, it just makes it the same shit rebranded. I never blame bands for this: it’s a press and marketing thing.

Chemical Violence most definitely isn’t shit – it’s an astute work that sees the band really exploit the genre forms to their optimum reach, and the point is that the further you delve into a genre, the more important the details become. Malice Machine know this, and this album is the evidence. ‘Dead Circuit’ presents the grinding sleaze of PIG, while ‘Machine Hate’ is pure insistent groove that’s overtly dance – most definitely drum dominant – but clearly has its grimy roots in that Chicago c86 sound. Flipping that, ‘Techno Pagan’ goes full raging Ministry industrial metal in the vein of ‘Thieves’. It wraps up with a killer rendition of Tubeway Army’s ‘Down in the Park’ that’s quite a shift, being both organic and robotic at the same time, and very much captures the stark spirit of the original. Covered by so many, from Marilyn Manson to Foo Fighters, and it’s become a synth-goth classic. Malice Machine seem to take some cues from the Christian Death version, but brings something unique to the party as well.

Where Malice Machine succeed with Chemical Violence clearly isn’t in its innovation, but its execution, and they don’t put a foot wrong, making for an album that really is all killer.

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Blind Mice Productions – 18th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

As the liner notes to Australian electro-industrial band SHIV-R’s fifth full-length album explain, ‘there is a Zen teaching that if you meet God on the road, you must kill him… What the killing of God means to each listener will be a unique and personal revelation. In a world full of gatekeepers and figureheads whose only interest in you is to tell you what to do, illusions will need to be shed and those who profess to have all the answers will need to be confronted’.

The title track launches the album with some harsh metallic guitars pitched against a pounding technoindustrial groove, where beats and synthesized bass are melded together perfectly. And while a lot of bands in this vein – even the likes of KMFDM to an extent – peg the guitars back in favour of pushing the synthesised elements of the instrumentation to the fore, to give a harsh, but ultimately slick, digital vibe overall, SHIV-R to crank up the guitars, and they punch hard, providing a strong counter to the danceable, mechanoid beats and throbbing low-end.

While growly or distorted vocals are common to the genre, it’s often strained-sounding or raspy, whereas Pete Crane has a rich, full-throated metal roar that has real depth and proper guts. That said, on ‘Spark’ and ‘Promises of Armageddon’ where they slip into grinding electrosleaze mode, evoking Pretty Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails and mid-90s PIG, Crane shows a cleaner tone that’s poppy, but dark – which is a description that fits the slower pace of the Depeche Mode-like minimal electro of ‘Blue Turns to Black’. It’s well-placed at what would conventionally mark the end of side one – and highlights another strength of Kill God Ascend: it feels like an album in the classic sense, with ten tightly-structured and concise tracks that are sequenced in such a way as to drop the tempo, and conversely, slam in with an absolute banger, at just the right time. More than anything, it’s reminiscent of Stabbing Westward’s debut – but at the same time, Kill God Ascend is very much an album with its own identity.

Sixth track, ‘Empire’ is exemplary, kicking off virtual side two with a dark stomper on which Crane snarls, “I’m on my own path. Get the fuck out of my way.” He sounds like he means it, too.

There are some solid hooks, and Kill God Ascend sustains the angst from beginning to end – even when they bring it right down for the brooding penultimate song, ‘Valley of Death’, it’s as a prelude to the epic finale, the dark, slow-burning ‘Turpentine’ that’s gnarly and hefty and brimming with twists, turns, and glitches, a track where the machines finally devour the human components in a mangles mess of rust and dirt, blood and guts. And it’s at this point, you realise that god is indeed dead.

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16th May 2021

James Wells

The government has a vested interest in controlling information. The media is driven by its own agenda, be it pro- or anti-government. Everyone has an agenda. Social media is war, and inchoate babble of conflicting views, most of which are based on opinion rather than information. But then information is suppressed, manipulated, statistics cut to suit specific ends… who can you trust? Well, probably no-one.

When governments and people in power blatantly lie, it’s no wonder people get suspicious and there’s a spreading air of mistrust – and of course, that’s when conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. In this kind of information war, what can you believe?

As Ilker Yucel of ReGen Magazine writes, ‘Talk City’ was written ‘with lyrics addressing the spread of misinformation and the resulting distrust that pervades modern society’ during the Summer and Fall of the pandemic in 2020. ‘Talk City,’ then, has a very clear message, that is one should not believe everything they read or hear in the media, but rather, research and find the truth.

Things have become deeply clouded and also deeply divided of late, with an ever-growing ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It seems that questioning the media – who we’ve long known to be skewed by agendas, be they left, right, pro-government, or whatever – now automatically makes one a conspiracy theorist. We live in a polarised world, in which anyone who isn’t pro-Tory or pro-Trump is a communist, anyone who didn’t vote to leave the EU is a remoaning lefty, and so on. There are no grey areas anymore. Anyone with reservations about vaccine side-effects is lambasted is an anti-vaxxer. Debate is dead. Might is right. But there’s a vast difference between questioning what you’re fed and buying into conspiracy theories, and that’s the message here: think, question, do your research.

‘Talk City’ is a pretty catchy tune, the perfect coming together of pop hooks and grainy industrial guitars and thunderous beats. It’s a combination of gritty industrial percussion, an insistent bass groove and growling vocals, that’s reminiscent of RevCo, KMFDM, and PIG. It’s solid stuff and has real bite. Right tune, right time.

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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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Raymond Watts aka PIG began his musical crusade in a Berlin basement in the shadow of the Wall back in the mid-1980’s. Perhaps it was the terror and turmoil that  lends a certain sense of menace to the trademark decadence of his group’s sound. When the Wall fell, our salacious saviour set out into the desert on a journey that has spawned countless albums and projects….not only PIG, but some of KMFDM’s finest material and numerous other collaborations that have included scoring for Alexander McQueen shows, as well as installations and exhibitions.

Our sacred saint of all seven sins has now delivered a new divine declaration in the form of Pain is God. Fourteen tracks of swine and swagger, it is an exegesis of excess – glitches and guitars, allure and libido, danceable decadence – and the weaponised word of the Lord of Lard, here to save your skin from the wages of sin.

A single from the album entitled ‘Rock N Roll Refugee’ is out now. A delicious taste of electronic rock, Watts describes it as “the demon seed of glam and electronica stirred to an apotheosis of ejaculating guitars and lamenting vocals. A song that’s loose enough for your vices and tight enough for your virtues.” The hook heavy song features backing vocals from Michelle Martinez to add an extra touch of soul, and also sees Watts reunite with guitarist Steve White on record for the first time since PIG released albums via Nothing Records and Wax Trax! in the 1990’s.

A video for ‘Rock N Roll Refugee’ (directed by E Gabriel Edvy) is a decadent dive into Pop art influences, but can be seen as more of a nod to the Fluxus movement and the likes of Nam June Paik or George Maciunas rather than the mainstream Warhol-ian aspects of the genre. The song and video interplay as a homage to Intermedia, filtered through the mind of the Swine.

Watch the video here:

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7th August 2020

James Wells

This, the third single from NKOS, is one of those tunes that just grows and grows, layer by layer, until it’s absolutely immense. Starting out subtly and slightly sinister, the beats build until the drums properly kick in, and it’s such a tight, punchy percussion, t smacks you right between the eyes, while a looping, cyclical groove eddies around to create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. Techno meets hip-hop meets electrogoth as a grating bass and heavily processed vocal snarls all over, calling to mind KMFDM and PIG.

With additional production from Jagz Kooner, who we can forgive his work with Kasabian and Oasis on account of his work with Radio 4, Ladytron, and the cult but so-underrated Officers, ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ is hard-edged without being overtly aggressive, attacking without being excessively abrasive, and successfully avoids cliché, and ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ has a lot going in its favour.

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4th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Having just completed a major tour with 3Teeth, which found Raymond Watts and co performing live in the UK for only the third time in their 30+ year career, PIG announced a new EP for release in June. And then, seemingly from out of nowhere, this landed at zero notice – a collaboration with John Fryer, who the press release reminds us is a ‘legendary producer and artist in his own right’ (and there is no escaping the fact his resumé is beyond incredible), the form of ‘the latest offering from his Black Needle Noise project.’

When it comes to both BNN and PIG, ‘industrial’ feels too limiting a term for artists who’ve expanded the territory with a rare imagination, not to mention a sense of grandeur, equally matched by a certain postmodern knowingness, humour even, particularly in the case of PIG.

For all the US and mainland European leaning of the genre, it’s perhaps the Englishness of these two artists which sets them apart and makes them stand out. It’s difficult to pinpoint, but it’s a factor.

‘Seed of Evil’ is a proper technoindustrial banger that’s reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails circa ‘92 and, er, PIG from around the same – the time when they toured supporting NIN on their Downward Spiral tour. It’s all in that distorted digital snare sound that sound like ‘Reptile’, the bubbling bass synth, the, cyclical repetition.

Even its very title revels in cliché and its seedy to the core, as Watts delivers a quintessentially grimy vocal, part gasp and part growl, over a gut-trembling synth bass, and it all explodes into a stomping chorus. In short, it’s got the lot. Get down.

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Christopher Nosnibor

I’m here for the support. So much so, I’m here as a paying punter wearing a PIG T-Shirt. One of those bands who’ve existed on the fringes for over 30 years now, and have fared better in Japan and other territories than domestically, they’re an act which has evolved while retaining a unique and singular vision, with a particular slant on the whole ‘industrial’ thing. Raymond Watts may have taken his early cues from JG Thirlwell and KMFDM, and various collaborations have proven remarkably fruitful, but ultimately, PIG are special because their sound and style is possessed of a certain flair, an irony and self-awareness that’s atypical of the genre.

This is only their second UK tour since they supported Nine Inch Nails on the Downward Spiral tour back in ’94, and I wonder how any people in the room can claim to have seen all three of their tours? Half the audience probably weren’t even born in 94, but for once, rather than bemoaning my age, I get to pity them for being born too late.

Having slung out a slew of new prime cuts in recent years, with a new covers album hot off the press and hot on the heels of Risen in 2018 and an attendant remix album and a Christmas EP last year, one would have been forgiven for some heavy pluggage, but tonight, PIG- featuring a lineup including the near-legendary En Esch on second guitar.

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PIG

After an opening salvo of recent material including ‘Mobocracy’, a grating thrashgrind of a number, they delve into the rich pickings of the band’s extensive back catalogue, dredging up the cabaret sleezegrindgroove of ‘Hot Hole’. ‘Find it, Fuck it, Forget it’ and ‘Painiac also get unexpected airings, and Watts is on magnificent form, a fluffy of fake fur and pelvic dynamism: it’s a small stage and he’s a tall man, but it’s his presence that fills every inch of the space as he works the room. ‘Pray Obey’ thunders in before they close with 1997 single cut ‘Prime Evil’. It’s far too short a set, but it packs some punch and slams some ham and that’ll do nicely.

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PIG

3Teeth are a band who’ve completely bypassed me before this tour was announced, which probably says more about how poorly I’ve kept abreast of the contemporary industrial scene than anything. They’re from the industrial metal strain that revels in the S&M aspect of the imagery (which explains all the leather jackets, fishnets, and mesh tops out tonight) and they push it hard, so hard that Alexis Mincolla’s presentation swings into the territory of camp machismo, and musically, they represent entire Wax Trax! catalogue compressed into one band. And perhaps that’s the issue and the reason I haven’t kept up to date: there doesn’t feel like any real progression has taken place in the last quarter of a century or so.

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They come out strong with gritty metallic riffs and hard rhythms. With a 5-strong bass and 7-string guitar setup, there’s a real density to the sound, and they’re all about the crisp chug, and they display no shortage of hooks.

What struck harder than the music was Mincolla’s observations on the proliferation of CCTV here in Britain is more pronounced even than back home Stateside. It’s a sobering thought that stays with me while they power through a solid set during with they showcase new additions to the live repertoire from last year’s Metawar in the form of ‘Sell Your Face 2.0’ and ‘Time Slave’ about the corporate grind. It’s relatable.

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3Teeth

Running close to the curfew, they manage to just squeeze an encore, Mincolla returning to the stage in a suit and red lizard mask for ‘President X’.

It may not be revolutionary, but it’s well executed and played with passion, and the audience reception is definitely deserved.

The industrial techno-rock duo Cubanate have just issued a video for ‘Kolossus’, the title song from their brand new EP. The spectacular, frenetic clip is directed by E Gabriel Edvy of Blackswitch Labs, who previously made a video for a track from front man Marc Heal’s 2016 solo album The Hum

The EP marks Cubanate’s first new music in over two decades and contains five new songs plus remixes of the title track by Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Delerium, Conjure One) and DROWND. Released on 7th June, it was previewed at live shows in London (co-headlined with Pig) and Leipzig (Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival) in early June.

Watch ‘Kolossus’ here:

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Cubanate

CUBANATE / Marc Heal photo by E Gabriel Edvy

Metropolis Records – 8th February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

In a sense, I was raised on so-called ‘industrial’. It was the very early 90s and I was in my mid-late teens: Ministry had broken through to the MTV major league with ‘Psalm 69’ and I worked weekends in a second-hand record shop. The other hired hand, who worked when the owner wasn’t around and drove the van carrying the shop’s contents to record fairs on Sundays, was around 15 years older than me, and was massively into all sorts, but particularly punk, new wave, and industrial shit. He’d feed me stuff like Pigface and Lard. Records and CD had a pretty rapid turnover, so recent releases often landed with us for resale within a few weeks of release after a rush of ‘mistake’ purchases off the back of reviews in the music press, and at record fair, it was possible to swipe Wax Trax! remainder12” – which included albums, often still sealed – for a pound apiece.

The fact there was a certain similarity of sound across many of the releases was, in a sense, part of the appeal: the uniformity of industrial civilisation and its attendant culture, reflected in musical from echoed a blank nihilism that simultaneously accepted and confronted the grim harshness of daily reality.

But it’s 2019 and many of the old bands are still cranking out the same trudging grind, and there don’t really seem to be that many emerging bands in the field, making for a genre that’s increasingly stagnant, continually cross-feeding from within itself without drawing inspiration or air from outside its hermetic grey-hued space. The additional contributors featured here is a case in point: the album features contributions from Robert Gorl (DAF), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), and Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Cocksure). As a catalogue of luminaries from the scene, it’s cool, but it’s the same catalogue as you might have seen as far back as twenty years ago

Wake Up the Coma isn’t bad by any means, and it certainly has its standout moments. It’s brimming with thumping industrial-strength disco beats, bubbling basslines and stabbing synths, and in this field, songs like ‘Hatevol’ are exemplary. The minimalist slow grind of ‘Tilt’ sounds very like PIG with its woozy, grimy, stop / start synth bass and snarling vocals, fuzzed at the edges with a metallic distortion. Then again, their cover of Falco’s ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ (with Jimmy Urine) stands out for less good reasons: it’s 100% straight, with negligible deviations from the original save for a more industrial beat. And I can’t help but think ‘what’s the point?’ there have been plenty of inspired industrial covers, and I will always cite RevCo’s take on ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ as an example of irreverent and inventive adaptation.

No-one looking for a solid Front Line Assembly album is going to be disappointed by this. And since FLA, now thirty-three years and almost twenty albums into their existence, are always likely to be preaching to the choir, they’ve delivered firmly with Wake Up the Coma.

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Front Line Assembly – Wake Up The Coma