Many bands sound angry. Many fewer of them actually are. With Year of the Pig, however, I buy it. I buy it completely. They certainly have enough to be angry about, being from Detroit, and given the political/socio-economic bent to their presented rage, there’s nothing about it that strikes as a put-on or disingenuous in any way. They’re pissed. Seriously.
On the six-track Year of the Pig EP (released through Spider Cuddler Records), the trio run through raging anti-corporatism and sub-Marxist commentaries. The lyrics – printed clearly and distinctly when you open the jewel case; clearly meant to be seen – being almost if not equally central to the music in terms of Year of the Pig getting their point across. With lines like “Primetime they evangelize and pray that our minds remain devoid,” there’s little danger of the audience not getting it, as guitarist/vocalist Vince Williams (ex-7,000 Dying Rats, The Christpunchers) spits fury in the direction of the capitalists who have, admittedly, eaten our world alive, backed by the jabbing barks of bassist Hank Pardike and the technically precise yet somehow passionate drum work of John Lehl (both ex-Diegrinder).
Pardike and Lehl have a tightness to their playing that underscores their years together in bands, and in Year of the Pig, they’re a huge portion of what makes the self-titled work. Lehl’s timely hi-hat hits in the intro of “Incinerator” bolster the beginning of the track and pave the way for Williams’ memorable lead lines to come. Throughout Year of the Pig, he doesn’t show himself to be a soloist in the shredding sense, but Williams’ leads on that song are what make it a highlight of the EP (there are several others), and Lehl and Pardike give him enough dynamic space so that he can shine where appropriate and be bolstered as necessary.
Opener “Sorry about the Blood” gets by on vitriol alone, the seething aspect of the band’s anger coming across immediately as Williams recites a sort of proletariat credo and Pardike and Lehl provide the foundation on which the song unhinges its Unsane aggression and bleak, polluted atmosphere. “Televised Charade” covers familiar ground lyrically – i.e., “fuck cable news” – but has a peculiar angularity to its break that interests nonetheless. All but the final track on Year of the Pig are under four minutes, and the intensity is ramped up all the more on the 3:06 “Humanicide” (someone needs to tell them there was already a word for that), Lehl abusing his snare drum as Williams inserts a touch of x-note melody into his vocals and Pardike backs with a “makes us believe!” cadence that reminds of Godflesh and earlier Neurosis – Souls at Zero more than Through Silver in Blood.
You won’t be surprised to find “Annual Percentage Rape” of timely economic concern, though Year of the Pig are conscious of not naming names to keep their songs from being tethered completely to the issues of the day. A repetitive call and response from Williams and Pardike works better on paper than in practice, but is a decent way to change up the sound of the EP anyway and doesn’t last longer than it needs to. Leading to the aforementioned “Incinerator,” the song accomplishes everything it needs to and only feels anticlimactic in comparison to what immediately follows.
Williams, Pardike and Lehl issue their sendoff with the 4:43 “Things Dad Yelled Drunk,” wherein reside the lines “The world means nothing/Pour the gas/Strike the match/We burn” that act as a fitting conclusion to the problems pointed out by the earlier tracks on the record: Burn it all down. As for what comes after that, I doubt it’s much of a concern for Year of the Pig, who no doubt know the structures in place to hold down working and middle classes are more than simply a generational or contemporary issue (just ask the dirt farmers in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they’ll tell you). Still, with the collective band slogan “Destroy Something Corporate,” their heart is in the right place, and given that and sincere venom included with their bite, the Year of the Pig EP hits even harder than just the music itself. Consider it recommended and watch for what they do next.
Tags: Detroit, Michigan, Spider Cuddler, Year of the Pig