King of Cowards by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs PigsRelease date: September 28, 2018
Label: Rocket Recordings
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs: It’s a pain in the arse isn’t it, that name? Even Pigsx7 has so many hard consonants it is tiresome. Up until now, liking Pigsx7 has been a tough job all over, only for the committed noise freak. Enjoying their debut Feed the Rats in one sitting could be worn as a badge of honour. The majority of that album, consisting of just three tracks, was like tipping yourself into a never ending vortex of anguish. An almost shapeless aural horror, you have to submit yourself to it’s punishments and ride the riffs with no idea of when you’ll come up for air. The one moment of near clarity was the single (hah!) ‘Sweet Relief’, which distilled the Sabbathian misery and Motorhead stomp into a bite-sized portion and managed to get some daytime radio play. Essentially, up to this point the Pigsx7 have been a jam band who put some sounds down for Rocket Recordings and with ‘Sweet Relief’ maybe saw a new way forward.
And so to King of Cowards and six whole new tracks, all of them under nine minutes long, all displaying a new focus, a broadening of their sound and a few revelations about just what makes them tick.
You know right off the bat from opening track ‘GNT’ that things have changed – some spacey guitar effects and a loping, urgent bass riff ‘dum dum dum da-dum dum’ leading into a crashing riff and wicked soloing. It ramps up the tension in a way Pigsx7 have never tried before and you just know it’s going to plunge head first into a serious banger. It does. It also features gang vocals behind Matthew Baty’s gravelly croon and the whole song is going to get accused of being jaunty if it isn’t careful.
The album title comes from ‘GNT’ and also features the line “it’s a snake with one eye, a snake with only one eye” which suggest troublesome lust, but as yet I’m none the wiser as to what it’s about. Baty, who had a Catholic education has said that he has unconsciously covered all of the seven deadly sins across the songs on this album and it’s certainly true that there’s something Old Testament about Pigsx7.
The other five tracks seem to take it in turns to explore new sounds and then sink back into the sludgy riffage, albeit with tighter editing. ‘Shockmaster’ is pummeling stoner doom with a central riff Sleep would kill for, but it’s next track ‘A66’ which holds the surprise. It goes through several movements, from thuggish to psych manic, and at about the five minute mark, weaving through the hypnotic repetitions of vocal and drums a squalling saxophone can be heard and the very large spectre of Hawkwind can be seen. Interesting.
‘Thumbsucker’ is an aggressive, grungy splurge which slows to dwell on the peculiarities of the protagonist “I like it when you rub my tummy, and let me suck my thumb“. Which sin is that one’s about? Possibly all of them. It has the crashing industrial rhythms and lyrical oddness of Killdozer too, which can’t be bad.
You’ll probably already be familiar with ‘Cake of Light’, the first single from the album, which has managed even more airplay than ‘Sweet Relief’. It does all the Pigsx7 usual stuff, but compacts it into under 4 minutes. It still resembles Motorhead on Mogadon, stuck down a well, slowly drowning whilst bashing out ‘Orgasmatron’ at double speed, but some how it is catchy enough to be palatable.
Again the next track moves into new territory, and with ‘Gloamer’ they may have saved the best for last. Baty speak/chants the early lines and the music is trance like, not dissimilar to GNOD, whose drummer Chris Morley is now a band member. At the midpoint the pace increases, the guitars ever more torturous and Baty sounds increasingly agitated. It seems on the surface like anger, but is actually a determination to connect – the music slows again to a monolithic dirge as he bellows ‘Hold on‘ over and over. The whole thing seems about to topple over like a wounded mammoth, as a saxophone again wails in the background. It’s as if we’re being returned to the vortex, to a place of infinite suffering… and then it stops dead.
What next and where next for Pigsx7? A collective noun for a group of pigs is a drift, but that’s not what’s happening here. Sharper, leaner, smarter and keener Pigsx7 have taken their sound to another level and are all the better for it. King of Cowards is a fine album.