Why am I so obsessed with Southern Lord-core? It makes me feel strong. This ferocious noise is a lightning bolt to a weary soul. Like a line of Columbia’s finest, it’s a jolt to the nervous system like no other.
So to All Pigs Must Die. Their self-titled debut EP was one of my sleeper records of 2010.
This vicious little collection took a while to worm its way into my affections. But its sinewy blend of hardcore and thrashy death metal is now on permanent high rotation.
The plentiful pedal-to-the-metal moments were exhilarating for sure, all hardcore spit and sweat but with a density to make your balls tingle.
Yet where APMD most excelled was when they pulled back to a doomy crawl, ground out a winding groove or let a melodic lead or two shine through. Like all the best bands of this ilk they appreciate the impact of contrast.
So I’ve been pretty amped at the prospect of debut full length God Is War, which has just dropped on my aforementioned favourite label.
By the way, if you don’t like Southern Lord because they are trendy, go find a mirror. Found one? Good. Now start slapping yourself around the chops until some sense penetrates that Neanderthal cranium. Sheesh, some people eh?
Anyway, this slab of filth is produced by guitar tone genius Kurt Ballou. Need I say more?
OK. Everything that man touches is pure. fist-fucking. gold.
When it comes to guitar tone to die for, Ballou’s Godcity is the Sunlight Studios of the 21st century. I shit thee not.
My eyebrow was raised by the intro to Death Dealer. The hardcore is barely present. The guitar tone is pleasingly filthy and thick but I’m hearing double bass hits and tremolo picked riffs.
It seems the scales have tipped much more towards extreme metal.
More of roar than a shout, the vocals are much less intelligible. The drums are less frequently punky, with more blasts, tom rolls and fills.
But by third track Sacrosanct the sound is once more closer to that of EP. More hardcore in feel, with snatches of gang vocals and jittery, lightspeed drumming.
Yet some of the riffs almost bring to mind black metal in that they undulate like a tarmac road in an earthquake. It’s great song that is absolutely relentless as it tears between quite diverse sections without pausing for breath.
Ben Koller (Converge) deserves special mention. His drumming is just so strong, from the tribal opening on the title track to a frequently quite technical death metal style via hardcore on extra steroids.
Koller’s pounding literally makes my bones vibrate.
God is War is caked in just that much more filth than All Pigs Must Die. It’s like they crawled through the trenches of Passchendaele to get to Godcity and plug in.
Some of the guitar rumbles are positively subterranean.
Yet APMD continue to leaven the assault with lots of detail to prevent God Is War from being pure riffola: streaks of unexpected feedback, sinuous earworm melodies, along with deeply satisfying shifts in tempo and atmosphere.
Final track Sadistic Vindicator is a case in point, clocking in at an epic 8:21. It shifts from swampy old school death metal to almost stoner grooves before exploding into frenzied, militaristic finale without outstaying its welcome.
God Is War is certainly more varied than their EP, as All Pigs Must Die play around more with their sound while still retaining a clear identity. I’m not sure yet whether it will earn such a lofty position in my affections as All Pigs Must Die but it’s a damn fine record and one for the year end polls.