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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
Land of Sleeper Daniel Hignell , February 17th, 2023 09:06

Fourth album from the Newcastle quintet goes hardest when it goes weirdest, finds Daniel Hignell

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are a band unafraid to dip into the sizeable pool of rock music tropes, crafting a scuzzy, psych-infused sound that touches upon Sabbath and Motorhead with giddy abandonment. For the most part, their latest album Land of Sleeper is a simple affair – brazenly, charmingly simple – with the holy triptych of guitar, bass, and drums playing in near unison, oscillating between breakneck chugging riffs and half-speed, euphoric breakdowns. Yet beneath this well-executed sea of distortion lies perhaps a little more.

The entire album seems to be rendered through a visceral wall of nostalgia, as if we are peering into a rock and roll fever dream – its parts borrowed, though familiar, strange, and abstract. The effect is no doubt caused in part by the production – much of the high-frequency clarity has been rolled off, leaving the instruments to merge together in a broad swamp that dampens the macho party vibes such Big Riffs often invoke. Beguilingly monotonic vocals, caked in reverb and moderately buried in the mix, espouse well-worn lyrical devices that emerge momentarily from the din – allusions to “the beast” et al – adjunct phrases that push things into a decidedly gothic territory.

Whilst metal has long toyed with the macabre, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs channel the specific theatrics of Electric Wizard through a somewhat groggier, stoner lens, and while it’s hardly breaking down the door of the avant-garde, it’s certainly a lot of fun. Tracks like ‘Big Rig’ rely on some fairly trad-metal guitar work, yet such indulgences are parried by slower lines of drawn out, high-pitched distortion, their parts reconfigured and reframed, as if subject to a steady disintegration.

For all its recognisable rock vibes, however, it is in the albums more esoteric moments that things really seem to take off. ‘The Weatherman’ stands out not only for its comparatively glacial pace but for its wonderfully ostentatious pagan chant. Rousing laments of “Serpent! Heathen! Malice! Violence!” ground rolling waves of free-form drums, the guitars eventually kicking in with doom-laden menace and genuinely fearsome shouts of despair.

Land of Sleeper is unlikely to win over anyone who doesn’t already enjoy Pigs’ (etc.) particular brand of stoner rock, but then, I doubt it’s really trying to. A steadfastly unsubtle affair, it is perhaps ironic that on an album that doubles down on its celebration of psych and metal tropes, whether as patchwork of tried-and-tested riffs or blissful homage to the ritual of British metal, it is at their most experimental that Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are at their mightiest.