Label: Self released
Date: September 9th, 2022
I still cannot get over the fact that Bloated Pig is not some sort of a grindcore band with dreadful gore themes. Six releases into their career, which I had the pleasure of browsing through for the past week since I returned from witnessing their live performance, they do keep to stoner metal. However, what did prevail on their previous recordings is updated on “6”. But let me start from the beginning.
Last week I had the privilege to see two of the best Canadian musical products since Alanis stormed the world. Leaving aside Black Pestilence, who performed that same night, Bloated Pig presented themselves as a strong and quite convincing act. I’ve written in my report that they sounded like stoner metal Obituary with Max Cavalera on vocal duty. Then again, for the first five releases, Bloated Pig sounded like your typical southern hard rock band. On occasions they knew how to drop down to doom metal or even psychedelic sludge, not unlike Pantera in their sonic explorations, but they remained loyal to the stoner roots. Okay, there were harsh vocals, but for the most part Mr. Alex Wagner opted for Phil Anselmo rather than anyone else.
Still, even in those days Bloated Pig expressed a yearning for their own voice to be heard. However simplistic they sounded, they did so with utmost conviction that less is more, therefore firmly stepping on the musical ground at hand. Simple, yet effective creations have shown the level of belief in themselves, even if this belief often didn’t show in the lyrical department where there were a whole lot of topics concerning bleak self-loathing, lack of confidence, depression… But considering my personal frame of mind at this particular point, even those words suited perfectly, no matter if the musical background was strong and heavy like a ton of bricks.
However, that was the past. The one notable switch in the band is the change on the bass guitar slot. Being a bass player myself, I know that this shouldn’t be a defining moment in the bands creative surge. Perhaps it wasn’t in this case either, but Bloated Pig on “6” sounds different.
Starting from the production work which made the entire thing so deep, cryptic to the point of claustrophobic suffocation, the guitar sound that it supplements takes very much from the humid warmth of Florida. Hence, my thoughts about Obituary stand somewhat correct. Especially in regard to the Floridians’ later works in the 1990’s. The riffing and song structures retain the simplistic approach (again reminiscent of Obituary), but this time they seem even more assuring that the band knows perfectly what they’re doing.
At the same time, there’s the voice of Mr. Alex Wagner which now definitely goes for Max Cavalera’s sonority. Low grunting that characterized his work on 1990’s Sepultura and particularly on Soulfly. Basically, again we have influences from the south glued to the “great white north”. The town that hosted the winter Olympics should not be home to the swampy marshlands of Florida, or the desert filled Texas… But it definitely is and one can hardly feel like it’s out of place here.
Back to the point, Bloated Pig incorporates a couple more differentiating influences to make what “6” turned out to be. For instance, “Dog Bite” goes furthest along the way to becoming a purebred thrash metal track, very much in the vein of already mentioned Soulfly or Testament, Overkill… A couple of thrashing streams collide in this track (even down to the proto-thrash as displayed by Cavalera Conspiracy and such) but it still sounds cohesive and true to its point. However, its follower, “Deadweight”, is almost a traditional doom / death metal song. Stoner doom, of course.
Now, how can those two stand side by side without it sounding like a huge disharmonic collage? The thing is that Bloated Pig uses the stoner metal backdrop whichever way they turn. That way the trio manages to tie it all together into a homogenous whole, with discernible variety of directions taken which are brought along (most often) by the rhythm section. Though the drums and bass guitar, like the guitar itself, stroll down the simplistic patterns, they are as effective as possible and not only add to the deepening of the soundscape, but are also creatively an important factor. With those two in place, as Bloated Pig intended them, you get a sort of a sandpaper which gives out the grainy feel to the record, as well as a base to which myriads of influences get stuck until the next sandstorm arrives to bring along other specks of dust.
While all of the above seem to be steps forward in the development of Bloated Pig, the one thing about them that remains untouched by the passing of time and the bands aging are the lyrical themes. It’s the same pessimism that made their previous records exercises in futility of existence. Doesn’t matter what perspective these guys take, it always results in decay. From the extinction of nature across the globe, to the most basic human instincts, the Canadians see the glass as half empty.
Getting to know the guys and talking to them for a while last week, it would appear as if these words have more of a pressure valve role in their lives. They do not seem all too bleak or suicidal in person, though they surely are well aware of what their lyrics suggest. But once they’re on paper or yelled at the unsuspecting microphone, it somehow works out for the best. That’s likely the one reason why the vocals seem so edgy, true to themselves and stabbing into the listeners’ hearts and souls. Resulting, of course, in such a destructive power of their performance on stage.
What does seem striking to me, now that I’m familiarized with every aspect of Bloated Pig’s creation and existence, is how their live set sounded so cohesive. Granted, at the time I had no idea about their set-list, or about what style they actually played. I didn’t explore the band prior to witnessing them live. Still, the whole show sounded like single-styled explosion of that stoner death metal I described above. Even if most of their opus comprises of fairly purified stoner metal. I’m guessing they did play at least some tracks off their previous records and not just “6” in its entirety. So, my question is how did they manage to adapt those tracks to the new and evolved sonority?
Whatever the case may be, it did sound massive. Bloated, if you would pardon the pun. And then it burst, encompassing the audience with all the might of this trio. So, long story short, though it looks pretty prolonged here, check this thing out. Not only if you’re into stoner. This one’s very extreme, very metal, catastrophic in nature and nurture, but all together very, very good.
P. S. Oh, and don’t forget to check them out live! You won’t regret it.