All Pigs Must Die – ‘Hostage Animal’

By James Lee

The last few years have truly been a golden age for the metal/hardcore supergroup. Some of the most stunning music that’s bled from our speakers has been the product of seasoned veterans convening and throwing their collective bands’ sonic fury together to form gargantuan new musical monstrosities. From the monolithic dirge of Sumac (featuring members of Isis, Baptists, and Russian Circles) to the trippy prog punk of Mutoid Man (Cave In, Converge), and the harrowing black metal of Wiegedood (Amenra, Oathbreaker, Rise And Fall) to the neck-breaking madness of Dead Cross (Slayer, The Locust, Faith No More), throwing a bunch of dudes from already legendary bands together yields often stellar results.

All Pigs Must Die No are exception to this rule. Not only are they one of the most terrifyingly powerful hardcore bands to have appeared in the last decade, but they are also a collective of gentlemen whose previous/current ‘other’ bands cast incredibly long shadows over the world of heavy music. Formed at the end of the last decade, APMD’s roster reads like some kind of all-star hardcore dream team – Kevin Baker of the sadly defunct Boston heavyweights The Hope Conspiracy, Adam Wentworth and Matt Woods of Bloodhorse, fresh recruit Brian Izzi of Trap Them, and rounding things out, the inhuman drum savant Ben Koller. ‘Hostage Animal’. APMD’s latest and third full-length album is the second of THREE albums that Koller has played on this year (Mutoid Man’s ‘War Moans’ and the impending ‘The Dusk In Us’ from Converge finishing up the trifecta), not to mention his touring with each of those three bands and never once losing that maniacal Ozzy-like grin whilst doing so.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Koller might be spreading himself too thin and that his individual performances could suffer as a result; yet mere microseconds into the album’s opening title track it’s obvious that nothing could be further from the truth, his frenzied blast beats kicking your proverbial doors in with the power of a runaway panzer tank. The song is an assault on all senses, Wentworth and Izzi’s buzzsaw riffs peel layers of epidermis away while Kevin Baker’s eye-bulging screams rip through you like a gale-force storm. ‘A Caustic Vision’ stomps and slams with venomous intent, before the grind of ‘Meditation Of Violence’ flays any flesh still left clinging to your already battered bones, and we’re still only three songs into the album.

‘Slave Morality’ brings the tempo down significantly, opening with one of the album’s doomiest passages.  Awash with bleak atmosphere, it seeds a deep feeling of dread before the band kicks into a higher gear once more and brings the song home with a crushing weightiness. ‘End Without End’ continues the mid-tempo attack, Koller’s abuse of the double-kick matched by Izzi’s serpentine riffing to further nauseate as well as terrify. The addition of Brian Izzi to the band’s line-up was an inspired choice – his work in Trap Them has always shone, his ability to mix up crusty hardcore with an old-school Swedish Death Metal vibe putting him among the most influential players in the scene today. With Trap Them now sailing off into the sunset, his jumping aboard the good ship APMD makes total sense, and the results on ‘Hostage Animal’ speak for themselves.

‘Blood Wet Teeth’ and ‘Moral Purge’ pummel and destroy with vicious intent, the latter managing to reference both the HM-2 grind of Rotten Sound and the menace of Slayer in a little over 90 seconds. ‘Cruelty Incarnate’ begins with a creepy, horror-infused guitar that wrong-foots the listener enough that it completely knocks you to the floor when the speed ratchets up into the album’s most black metal-inspired moments. ‘The Whip’ sounds like classic Entombed pumped full of amphetamines and chained to the front of a speeding car which suddenly screeches to a halt for the album’s grand finale, ‘Heathen Reign’, an epic anthem filled to the brim with planet-crumbling riffs and anguished roars.

‘Hostage Animal’ doesn’t hugely deviate from the template All Pigs Must Die set for themselves on ‘God Is War’ and ‘Nothing Violates This Nature’, however it does massively refine every aspect of their work, and is by far the most potent and dynamic version of the band’s sound to date. The album’s recording was handled by (of course) Converge’s Kurt Ballou, and as such sounds spectacular – raw and muscular whilst never losing definition or clarity. Having worked with this band (and all of its members individually) so many times, Ballou has innately been able to bring out the best in them, dialling in those chainsaw guitar tones perfectly so as to cause the maximum amount of carnage. The final result is an album that devastates in all possible ways, whether blasting at full tilt or creeping in the shadows. This is an animal that deserves to be let loose on everyone’s 2017 Best Of list.

JAMES LEE

Three more album reviews for you

LIVE: Northlane / ERRA @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

LIVE: Stick To Your Guns / Being As An Ocean @ O2 Academy, Islington

LIVE: PVRIS @ O2 Academy, Birmingham