“Hostage Animal” is the third full-length album by American hardcore punk supergroup, All Pigs Must Die. With members of The Hope Conspiracy, Converge, Bloodhorse, and now more recently for this latest release, Trap Them,All Pigs Must Die deliver another batch of angry, energetic metallic hardcore.
The band started out in 2009, with their first full length album, “God is War,” being released 2 years later. Hailing from Massachusetts, All Pigs Must Die are renowned for their high octane, powerful music, smashing the boundaries between punk and metal in a familiar way. The style across their 2 albums and 2 E.Ps to be released prior to “Hostage Animal” has established the band as being an incredibly relentless and explosive band.
Starting off the album is the title track. No fancy dramatic intros here, no spoken word over the sound of winds blowing through the catacombs, no crescendos or melodic development, just simply, BANG and we’re off. Not a marathon or even a 10K, this is an indoor 60m sprint, straight into action.
The track starts with Ben Koller, the band’s drummer, sprinting flat out with a beat that’s most at home in almost any Grindcore or Powerviolence act you want to think about. With Converge’s guitarist, Kurt Ballou behind the mixing desk engineering and producing, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic guitar tone. This album boasts a wonderfully muddy, rusty chainsaw type tone from the guitars, a powerful, gritty bass tone and an incredibly pissed off singer, (he may not be but his delivery suggests it). The track, “Hostage Animal” is a nice example of the band in a nutshell, with all the furious metalcore conventions demonstrated in spades, and even another trademark of the band:slight hints of melancholic black metal chord work from the guitar.
Next track on the album, “A Caustic Vision” is one of my favourites. It begins with an aggressive set of phrasing from the band, driven powerfully by Koller’s almost robotic drumming. A beautifully simple verse with the snare on each beat while the guitarists pick their way through a melodic passage with minor tonalities that are traded off with a chunkier, fat sound playing out a sinister, lower end descending passage. Just when you think there’s no way the drums can develop any further, you always find that you’re wrong on this album.
“Meditation of Violence” is one of a few sides this band has. This particular side taking route one, straight to the jugular. A raging, sub one minute flash in the pan that’s over before you want it to be.
“Slave Morality” stands out for a few reasons—these being the relatively slow, trudging pace of the track, and the track’s duration, coming in just over five minutes. Guitars really open out here, with the rolling gain taking the saturated chords wide over the mix while the drums pound away. A layered intro with various stages sees a lovely crunchy octave driven lead line from the guitars that develops up the fret board. As the vocals enter, the tone of the intro guitar remains, but with it, there is a clean, arpeggiated chord line in the background, highly reminiscent of the obscure Norwegian black metal band, Thorns (a band that ended quite abruptly when their main member, Snorre W. Ruch was jailed for being an accessory in the murder of Mayhem’s Euronymous).
Another epic, sludgy track follows this, “End Without End” that boasts a very rich, layered guitar approach, utilising dissonance to its full uncomfortable potential. At the half way point, the guitars ring out, feedback takes over as the band decays into white noise, only for an entirely different section to establish itself. It sounds almost like Metallica’s “One”, with another melancholic moment on the album, made all the more effective by its exposed beginnings. Adding to the solemn, clean guitar is a crunchy, anthemic guitar line that ushers the rest of the band back in to march to the finish. It has a sense of victory to it. I think if you listened to a couple of particular songs by All Pigs Must Die, you could end up getting a false impression. I’d be hard pushed to avoid words like fast, angry, aggressive, and furious, because the band are all of those things but it’s moments like “End Without End” where you realise the depth that this band has. There have been hints on the previous albums but “Hostage Animal” appears to have explored more ground and widened the field.
The following four and a half minutes provides two bread and butter APMD moments in “Blood Wet Teeth” and “Moral Purge”. The latter being just over 90 seconds of absolute hostility before the tempo halves to bring the track home in typical fashion for those of you familiar with the band already.
Heading to the finish, we are greeted with another brooding track in “Cruelty Incarnate” which builds into a melodic flourish after an array of dynamic shifts and turns. One of the few moments on the album showcasing the bass work as the primary melodic source for a few measures, where both dry and distorted tones are combined to offer a thick and abrasive tone to serve as the foundation for the rest of the instrumentation across the album.
“The Whip” begins with typically savage intensity only to kill off the momentum and tempo, closing the final minute of the track with a sluggish yet effective groove that stomps along.
The longest track on the album is the closer, “Heathen Reign”. It begins with yet more hints of the bleak, oppressive black metal. Haunting, yet uplifting, which is a seemingly incompatible combination, but executed here showing the band to deliver more layers of musicality. As you enter the last quarter of this song there is another lone guitar moment weaving out an intricate line of sombre feel, only for the band to re-enter, similar to “End Without End”, to help bring the song to a close as it fades out to the end.
A satisfying listen that rewards repeat listens due to its musical depth. All Pigs Must Die are a band that always provided that short burst of exhilarating fury for me but with this album, the overall experience offers much more than just 10 blows to the body and a gesture to your corner for the white towel.