Album Review: PIG Risen
Creating industrial music in 2018 is risky business. There have been mumblings of the subgenre's revival for too long now and even I have ventured down that path, yet it's very difficult to separate nostalgia from modern quality regarding a musical style that was born three decades ago. Although bands like 3teeth and Youth Code are proving that industrial music deserves a spot in the 21st century, I'm reluctant to consider this a rebirth of the subgenre. Rather it's a slight continuation as influences naturally pass styles forward. Furthermore, all the original artists of the industrial scene haven't created anything too eyebrow-raising in awhile. All in all, it's hard to be a fan of industrial music when there are times that the subgenre feels irrelevant or it has hit a brick wall.
Acknowledging this critique, I had somewhat low expectations when approaching this release with the assumption that an industrial artist in his 50's would be creating tired, nostalgia-driven music. Luckily, I was proven wrong. Raymond Watts, the mastermind behind Pig, unveils fresh diversity and creativity within Risen. This is likely due to his extensive experiences working with electronic and industrial artists throughout the years. While it's impossible to provide a full overview of Watts' musical resume, I'll try my best to condense his impact on the scene from the 80's to modern times.
Watts began his career by writing for the first few KMFDM records, touring with Foetus, and producing a variety of artists before releasing the Pig albums. As more LPs came out through the 90's, the project opened for Nine Inch Nails and collaborated with KMFDM. Although they never broke from the underground, Pig sustained with releases during the 2000's to their current LP, Risen. It boasts collaborators Ben Christo (The Sisters Of Mercy), Z. Marr (Combichrist), En Esch (KMFDM), and Oumi Kapila (Filter).
Regardless of the fact that the Pig project initially arose in the 80's, I think the music has matured very impressively. The fourteen songs on here stretch the industrial spectrum. They provide a buffet of each attribute the subgenre has to offer, ranging from catchy singles, dirty bangers, and slow burn songs. Though, as the album progresses, the tracks become slightly less memorable, Watts keeps us on our toes with Pig's dynamics.
The LP starts off remarkably well with the opening track "The Chosen Few" oozing with hooks galore. While everything about this song shows potential for a successful single, I don't think it breaks away from common industrial characteristics. It feels reminiscent of Ministry or KMFDM. Nonetheless, I'd imagine this having a stronger radio appeal than any recent single by other modern industrial-tinged acts like Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails. Other memorable pieces early on the LP are "Morphine Machine," which features Tim Skold (Marilyn Manson, KMFDM, Motionless In White) and "Loud, Lawless, & Lost," a proper tribute to David Bowie, sampling his "Fame" riff and playing off other tropes.
The remainder of the record creates a wonderful balance of heavier compositions and calming electronic pieces. The most notable guitar-driven hard-hitters would be the fist-pumper "The Revelation (Misinterpretation Mix)" or the Rammstein-esque "Prey & Obey (Disobey Mix)." Furthermore, the steel clanky atmosphere of "Rise and Repent (Descent Mix)" sounds as if it'd be the perfect accompaniment for a futuristic army of Mordor orcs. On the other hand, emotional, subdued tracks like "When I'm Done (Delivered Mix)" and "Truth is Sin" reveal the sensitive and patient side of Watts akin to such acts like Tweaker or Puscifer.
I'll admit the industrial scene is far from the booming days of the 80's and 90's. However, I have come to the conclusion after listening to this record that any concern over the health or status of a certain subgenre is, for the most part, a waste of time. The current popularity or success by artists in the modern industrial scene has zero effect on the quality of this record. Whether or not this album impacts the scene, I think all who give Risen a chance will understand that Pig is an eternal force in the realm of the mixing electronic music with metal. Raymond Watts is truly capable of satisfying any musical desire within this style as you can tell by the array of industrial nostalgic earworms, high-energy party hits, and afterparty simmer songs.