You must respect any band that lives up to their moniker. Imagine being an impressionable metallic youth raiding the local record store and picking up albums from acts known as Poison and Slaughter. Seems metal enough, but then you get home only to realize the swindle and that those tapes were as hard as the Pillsbury Doughboy. When you listen to Hostage Animal (Southern Lord) by All Pigs Must Die, you don’t have that problem.
Hostage Animal sounds weird and fucking pissed off from cover to cover and that’s all I want or expect from that namesake. But once you dig a little deeper, you learn that the players happen to come from bands such as The Hope Conspiracy, Trap Them and Converge. And while on the topic of Converge, it’s worth mentioning that Hostage Animal is one of three full-lengths this year which feature Ben Koller on drums. Somehow Koller has the time and chops to play here, on Mutoid Man’s awesome War Moans, and on the upcoming The Dusk in Us.
The chops are certainly put through the paces on the album-opening title track which alternates from blistering blasts to d-beat swings. Those rapidly flowing rhythms are channeled right into ‘A Caustic Vision’ with its seesawing riffs and subtle, yet highly intricate double kicks. Adding former Trap Them guitarist Brian Izzi to the fold brings both tension and menace on a track like the mid-tempo stomper ‘End Without End’ and mounds of aggression on ‘Blood Wet Teeth.’ And tension is the theme that is plastered across Hostage Animal. There is plenty of blitzkriegs early and often, but when the boys decide to reel themselves in and bring the music to a menacing creep on ‘Heathen Reign,’ the listener must cower in fear of the next musical explosion. It’s especially present on ‘Slave Morality’ which at times functions like a 152-point inspection and restoration of Entombed’s fierce ‘Chief Rebel Angel.’
All Pigs Must Die. Now that’s a name you can trust.