Pigsx7 approach the mainstream on Land Of Sleeper.
Motorhead singer Lemmy (as if you don’t know who he was if you’re reading this) once said: ‘I always write about war, love, death, and injustice. There’s plenty of that around, so I never run out of ideas.’
It’s debatable whether, like most things, the now deceased hellraiser claimed that this was actually true, but fast forward to the not-so-roaring 20s and, if you share that particular piece of philosophy, source material like that certainly still isn’t hard to find.
There was a point where Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (Pigsx7) sung about the A66, the accident-heavy trunk road that links the east and west high country in the north of England, but that was before the success of their 2020 album Viscerals, from which they’ve now necromanced themselves onto the festival circuit.
It was recognition that the band, who’ve remained based in the music industry backwater of Newcastle since their inception over a decade ago, hoped for but never expected, given the uber niche and clique ridden world of metal which they proudly inhabit.
But if Land Of Sleeper is in its own way distinctly apart noise wise from its predecessor – a ‘headphone listen’ according to producer Sam Grant as opposed to a ‘blast out load and proud’ record as before – it’s definitely not making any more concessions to the outside world than it has to.
Wisely perhaps however they’ve now at least dispensed with the gargantuan running times of some of their early material, delivering more focused alchemy.
There’s even a track here – the furious dandruff raising punk of Mr. Medicine – that runs to less than 2-and-a-half minutes, singer/keyboardist Matt Baty showering it with his distinctive growl, a rasp that always sounds like it’s ready to spit fire.
As you may have guessed, subtlety is at one level for the birds, but although the gamboling opener Ultimate Hammer was, according to guitarist Adam Ian Sykes, the bastard creative son of, ‘being trapped in the house and listening to too much ZZ Top’, the familiar mighty and distinctive groove takes hold gradually but in the end completely.
Pigsx7 freely admit that what they deliver is elemental, with Land Of Sleeper once again showcasing their trademark fusing together strands of psychedelic, stoner, doom and hard rock that leans heavily on Black Sabbath (then again, in this corner of the musical world what doesn’t?) but also fits credibly alongside newer outfits like High On Fire or Sleep.
Deciphering what’s going on lyrically may take more time even with headphones than most, although Baty has described his writing process as cyclical and focused this time on the subconscious trapdoor of sleep, a theme which chimed with Pigsx7’s overarching conceptual id as, ‘The ultimate form of escapism’.
There isn’t much time or inner space to waste though on the likes of Big Rig, Pipe Down! or the wonderfully attritional closer Ball Lightning but even they bow their heads in deference to the album’s centerpiece, The Weatherman – a theatrical procession of sludgy riffage featuring Bonnacons Of Doom vocalist Kate Smith and a choir including Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington, its warlock-friendly thunder meant to be taken only as seriously and you want.
Lemmy wasn’t your regular man of mystery, but he would’ve approved of Pigsx7, bringers of music for the four modern horseman with a collective smile on their face.
Land Of Sleeper is their most compact but enjoyable chapter so far, one that nudges them closer to the above ground, daylight world, one ear grinding inch at a time.