Land Of Sleeper by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs PigsRelease date: February 17, 2023
Label: Rocket Recordings
It’s the return of the Pigs! Fourth album Land of Sleeper finds them still as irrepressibly mud-spattered and heavy as we’ve come to expect. Carrying forth the torches lit on 2020’s Viscerals, ‘Ultimate Hammer’ snatches up ‘Hell’s Teeth’s closing exhortation “Let’s Rock!” and charges onwards. The tweaks and refinements to their sound are subtler this time, streamlining and supercharging, polishing the precious metal.
Three years ago the band were riding high, Viscerals was all set to propel them to greater things when Covid shut the whole world down, scuppering an American tour (for which they recently announced new dates) and rather taking the wind out of their sails. Such loss of momentum has derailed bands in the past but Pigs seem to have turned it to their advantage, using it as a restorative pause. Ten years in, working on a fourth record, rock bands are often running on empty, scratching around a little bad temperedly. Pigs have not indulged any dangerous or desperate new ideas here but neither do their old ones sound tired. Land Of Sleeper may well be their best record, drawing strength and, to an extent, its theme from that rest.
A touch more introspective than the lurid hyper-glam of Viscerals, as the waxy lysergic moon on the front suggests, Land Of Sleeper is threaded with images of dreams and nightmares. Heavy metal monsters are not required, existential dread will do just fine. Opener ‘Ultimate Hammer’ finds Matt Baty ill at ease in his bed, pulling the sheets tight at the thought of the earth’s rotation. The turmoil continues on the churning ‘Terror’s Pillow’ Baty’s roar making “we’re finally feeling like we’re alive” sound simultaneously triumphant and horrified.
This is something like the key to Pigs’ broad appeal. I mean, I like doom metal well enough but it’s not usually this much fun is it? A lot of that is down to tempo, driven on by Johnny Hedley’s galloping bass the sense of propulsion rarely flags. Rhythm is central to their sound, after all their frontman is a drummer. They’re not much given to the lumbering gait of most doom or sludge metal and while there’s humour and psychedelia in what they do, it’s blessedly free of the dreary grin of a thousand stoner bands called things like Weed Wolf. Fully aware of their own ridiculousness and fully committed to the power of what they do, they scamper along the tightrope. Pigs are musically heavy and lyrically dark but the overall effect is exhilarating, even joyous. It’s vivacious doom.
From their early days of 15 min jams they seem to be topping out at 8 tracks per album but still cutting down their individual lengths. As with Viscerals, on track 4 things gets weirder. This time ‘The Weatherman’ is an incense wafting, heavy robed. incantation with vocals from Bonnacons Of Doom’s Kate Smith and fellow Geordies Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington, prompting me to finally make the obvious ‘Wor Pigs’ gag after all this time. ‘Mr Medicine’ follows it taking the distillation of their sound to its neatest, strongest shot. Just two and half minutes of the same pounding riff and a lyrical statement of belief in music’s healing powers, “Through noise we release, ourselves, we can be, fearless”.