You’ve all heard this by now, I’m sure, but never let it be said that we at OneMetal don’t try and cover as much as we can! Released last year by the good folk at Southern Lord, God Is War is at first listen ‘yet another Entombed-core album’, as if that’s entirely a bad thing. All Pigs Must Die is the brainchild of a couple of people that may pique your interest – Ben Koller (Converge, drums) and Kevin Baker (The Hope Conspiracy, vocals) are names that SHOULD at least raise an intrigued eyebrow among fans of hardcore, anyway. If you know anything about Koller’s work (including filling-in for or outright replacing John-Robert Connors in TWO bands so far!) you’ll have fairly high expectations on the percussive front – rest assured, the man’s insanely-high standards are more than maintained here.
It’s the drumming that really drives this record, as you might imagine. The guitar work is excellent, Baker’s vocals are appropriately furious and the whole thing sounds exactly as grimy and raw as everything else that leaves God City Studios (yep, another Kurt Ballou production!), but it’s the drummer’s contribution that sets this apart from the roughly 12 bazillion other bands mining this seam at the present time. Right from the off, with ‘Death Dealer’ and its introductory martial snares that ease themselves into and around doubletimed d-beats, you can feel the hallmarks of drumming quality that permeate the entire album. There’s a freedom you get from working with a drummer as flexible and skilled as Koller, you see – the knowledge that you can pretty much write anything you like without worrying that you’ll leave anyone behind is hugely liberating, and it’s that more than anything which informs the songwriting on God Is War.
It’s no small coincidence that Converge‘s greatest work happened after Koller joined them (and the first album he played on for them is STILL the best one they’ve ever released in my opinion). He brings a lot of the same ingredients to this band as his ‘day job’ – head-smashing metal rhythms delivered with real punk spirit and laced with jazzy flourishes are very much his stock-in-trade – but All Pigs Must Die is an overall simpler, less emotionally-fraught proposition than the likes of No Heroes or Axe To Fall which makes it a far easier listen. Yes, that’s all relative, as God Is War would likely still terrify the life out of the majority of ‘metal’ fans with its hardcore roots and doom-soaked atmosphere, but easing off on the drama and upping the headbang quotient whilst cranking the guitar amps to Wolverine Blues-o’clock is a winning formula.