July 2019. A soaking wet early evening in North Yorkshire might’ve proved that the devil doesn’t always have the best weather, but Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are far from daunted by the Deer Shed Festival’s sodden punters, having crammed themselves into a tent for about 200 people which feels like it’s at twice capacity. Frontman Matt Baty greets the curious throng in a silver cape before taking position behind a keyboard which looks like it was last used by Hawkwind’s Dave Brock in about 1973. Then, the fun and games begin.
Formed nearly a decade ago, Pigsx7 are proof that if the general public don’t first succeed in getting you, you should try, try again. For most of their existence the Newcastle quintet have touted their thunderous soundscapes – part Black Sabbath, part stoner rock, part doom metal – in venues where the stage and dressing room are almost the same size. But 2018’s King of Cowards saw them if not break, then crack the glass ceiling of niche appeal, with their prog-ish song lengths scored down into something radio and playlist manageable whilst still satisfyingly making a right old racket.
Anyone fearing that Viscerals would chronicle a similar leap towards the over ground can calm themselves, however. From its garish artwork to Baty’s familiarly reverb-drowned vocals and the retained lyrical themes of paranoia and the moral excesses of modern life, this counts as no betrayal of what got his band here.
They’ve stayed refreshingly weird as well: the singer intones darkly over Blood And Butter’s spoken word interlude, while the nine-minute Halloween Bolson shows that they’ve not so much come to terms with their uncompromising past, a riff pile up of epic proportions that seems unable to stop itself until leaving the earth’s orbit for good.
Having again recorded in band member Sam Grant’s Black Studios far away from the industry’s London epicentre, the insularity of process means forward motion is strictly on their terms. Opener Reducer, though, is as animated as they’ve been, great washes of fuzz bass and exploding drums ripped from their normal tempo, while Rubbernecker zones in and out between hints of a greater finesse and their bludgeoned calling cards a plenty.
They’re not without a sense of humour either, as Crazy In Blood stands much of their impenetrable exterior on its head, Baty singing, ‘Can we try any harder/There’s blood on the altar’, as if they know that in a world where some people take everything literally, there’s far more than one apparition ready to come out of their closet in the future.
Viscerals’ problem is one which can only be solved one way; Pigs are a band which almost more than any other need to be consumed live, the listener wrapped up in their womb like a flood of distorted noise. Only then will you be able to process these songs as they’re meant to be heard, a thrill to be kept in mind when listening to this album at home.
The two inches of mud on your boots remain optional.