Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ONE BAD PIG "Love You To Death"

(c) 2016 Porky's Demise Records

  1. Love You To Death
  2. What Does The Fool Say
  3. The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes & The Pride of Life
  4. Get Your Hands Dirty (featuring Les Carlsen)
  5. Footwashin'
  6. Sunday Skool Rawk
  7. Teenage Royalty
  8. Heads Will Roll
  9. It's Not Pig Latin (Itsay Otnay)
  10. Judgement Stick
  11. Straitjacket
  12. Ben Moors
  13. Red, White, or Blue (Colour Me)
  14. Tumbleweed
  15. OMG
Carey "Kosher" Womack--Lead Screamer
Paul Q-pek--Guitars, Vocals, Trumpet, Wails, Half an Accordian
Daniel Tucek--Bass, Vocals, Madolin, Other Half of Accordian
Lee Haley--Guitar, Vocals
Paul "PJ Bostic" Roraback--Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Its' been twenty-five LONG years, but seemingly out of nowhere, Christian punk pioneers, One Bad Pig, have returned to the sty with their latest offering, Love You To Death.  Founding members Womack and Q-pek, along with long-time member, Daniel Tucek, have recruited a couple of new swine this time around, with Roraback sitting in on drums for Philip Owens (who was unable to commit to the project for family reasons) and Lee Haley, whose addition gives the band dual guitar players for the first time in its recording history.  Despite the long layoff, the change in musical landscapes, and the independent nature of this Kickstarter-funded project, One Bad Pig has largely managed to recapture the magic of the past 30+ years, and definitely succeeded in recapturing the fun that was such an essential part of the Pig.

The album starts off with the title track, "Love You To Death", and almost immediately there is a noticeable rawness to the band's sound that captures the energy the band brings to their live shows.  There is no slick, polished production to be found here, but the mix is still solid and professional, with production tandem of Roraback and Q-pek tending the album's sound.  Kosher's vocals, punkish as they are, retain essentially the same tone and quality as on previous recordings, and the energy of the band is definitely still present.  It is interesting this time around to hear how the addition of Haley on guitar really adds to the fullness of the songs here, with this quality being obvious from the very opening track.  Starting off with a surf-rock riff, "Love You To Death" quickly (d)evolves into the high octane punk stylings the band is so well known for, especially as Roraback's machine-gun drums and Womack's razor-and-broken glass vocals come snarling across the rumbling bass line laid down by Tucek.  An excellent way to kick things off for me...

"What Does The Fool Say" is one of my favorite tracks on this new album, with it's question-and-response styled format really adding to the overall performance of a song that, lyrically, is an extension of early Pig favorites, "Let's Be Frank" and "Don't Be Fooled".  Interestingly, the gang chorus actually starts off each verse here, asking "What does the fool say?", before Kosher responds with lines such as, "There is no God, I've been left here all alone", or "There is no God, no omnipotent hand".  Instantly catchy and fun, both my 4 year old and my 9 year old have already figured out the timing to jump in on the "What does the fool say?" parts with near perfection.  Just a great, great song that reeks of Pig greatness from the past.

Anyone who knows the Pig knows that covers are one of the things they have always loved to do, and this album features their latest addition to their collection of cover tunes with "The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes, and the Pride of Life".  Originally performed by another classic Christian punk band, the 77's, the track is given new life and energy by One Bad Pig, with the rawness of the production again really adding to the punch of the track, and the Irish sing-along feel of the chorus adding to the fun, especially with the "hey, hey, hey's" mixed in.

The band shifts into a slightly more metal mode with "Get Your Hands Dirty" which features co-lead vocals from Les Carlsen of Christian metal legends, Bloodgood.  The interplay between Kosher and Carlsen works surprisingly well, as even I couldn't have predicted how these two starkly different vocal styles and tones would mesh.  The chorus is extremely simplistic, with just a simple multi-repeat of the title doing the job, but it is still effective nonetheless.  This song is a prime example of the two guitar approach really adding to the overall power of the song, as there is an excellent solo ripped off here while the rhythm guitars and bass continue to chug along in the background.  Definitely a top 5 song for me here.

"Footwashin'" returns to more purely Pig-styled punk territory, both musically and lyrically.  Perhaps that is because this is as pure as any of the songs here can get in regards to it being a classic Pig song, as the lyrics were handled by Kosher and the music was all Q-pek's.  Its this collaboration that I feel brings out the best in the band, especially when Kosher is able to add his twisted humorous take to the words while still pushing forward the lesson and message of the song.  No one but Kosher can pump out lyrics such as "Big feet, small feet, all feet stink/Feet are the grossest, don't you think?", while still telling the story of Jesus humbling Himself to wash the feet of even the lowliest of people that He encountered.  Prime Pig, to be sure.

"Sunday Skool Rawk" is a string of all the Sunday School/Bible School songs you learned as a child being set to a breakneck punk pace...and briefly, a Spanish cantina-styled interlude, complete with Spanish lyrics and Q-pek on trumpet!  Brings a smile to my face every single time.

"Teenage Royalty" is more fast and furious punk fun, with another classicly catchy chorus, particularly with the gang-shouted, "I'm the king of the World!".  Once again, a purely Pig song from start to finish, with Haley contributing to the lyrics here, which is nice to see.

The album takes a distinctly dark turn with the somber, heavy, and doomy, "Heads Will Roll".  Ripped straight from current events and newspaper headlines, the song deals with the martyring of Christians being beheaded, hung, or burned alive for their faith and beliefs.  Extremely powerful musically, and lyrically honest...even brutal...this track is an ominously beautiful, angrily hopeful song of people willing to die for what they believe in, but dying not as aggressors but as those who love what and Who they believe in.  Very obviously directed at Al Qaeda, ISIS and all those involved in the whole terroristic Islamic movement, "Heads Will Roll" is the one track on this album that really pushes the Pig into new, undiscovered territory...and it does it with great effect.  As dark as it is, "Heads..." is hands-down my favorite track on the record.

The band shifts back into fun-loving territory with "It's Not Pig Latin (Itsay Otnay)", which, while not my favorite track, definitely brings a solid degree of levity back to the proceedings, as does the follow-up, seventeen-second burst of "Judgement Stick".  "Straitjacket" keeps things in impish fun mode, although there is a really cool musical section near the end that again finds the band expanding upon their typical musical styles.

"Ben Moors" is a song that was written for the song title's namesake.  Ben Moors is an Australian gentleman and Pig fan who contributed a large donation to the Kickstarter fund (I believe it was $1000) to have a song written about him.  Its humorous, to be sure, but really doesn't do anything to advance the album lyrically.  A fun little piece, and not a skipper by any means, but don't spend any time looking for much in the way of Biblical lessons in this song that is basically just a fun-loving musical autobiography of this superfan.

"Red. White, or Blue (Colour Me)" returns to the Irish pub-style of punk, which I think the band does extremely well on this album.  Again, a really catchy chorus, and the Pig-perfect partnership of Womack's lyrics and Q-pek's music produces another top five track for me.

"Tumbleweed" is an odd song here...not bad, just odd.  Very chunky, with a discordant sounding lead guitar weaving its way through the background, it is unlike anything I have heard the band try before, and I think it works to a large degree, but other than Kosher's vocals, it really doesn't feel like a Pig song to me.  

"OMG", which stands for "On a Mission from God" closes the album out with a flourish of heavier, more metal-edged guitars, some of the harshest screams from Kosher, and that solid, mid-tempo (for punk, anyway) pace that the Pig pulls off so well.  There is also an excellent guitar solo ripped off before the song's bridge, that is unlike pretty much any solo you have heard from the band in the past as there is a definite nod to the 80's metal scene in its execution.  An excellent way to go out swinging from this classic band.

The packaging is digipack, with full lyrics, thank you's, and Kickstarter credits (yes, I am in there) included in a 12 page booklet, along with some different shots of the band...and Ben Moors.There is also an explanation from the band as to why they have decided to return to the musical scene and about where they stand with their faith in today's world.  There is also a full-color picture of the band on the inside of the digipack sleeve, as well as band line-up information and production credits and another picture under the CD tray.

In so many ways, this album is the perfect bookend for the band's catalog, particularly if you go all the way back to the demo, A Christian Banned.  The evolution of the band from straight street punk to well-versed musicians with an ability to expand upon their repertoire is seemingly complete.  The new musicians slide seamlessly into the mix here, not only occupying space, but also making really nice contributions to the sound and the writing of the record.  Is it the end of the Pig?  As a fan, I certainly hope not, but if it is, I can honestly say that the band has gone out on a high note and that they have exited stage left doing things in a manner only One Bad Pig can seemingly do. Kosher told me in our recent interview, "here's a good rule of thumb when it comes to One Bad Pig: never say never!"

If you loved them in the past, I can't imagine you not loving them now.  And if you are new to the band, this is as good a place to start as anywhere in their catalog.  It is that good, especially for fans of fun, insightful, quirky punk.

Rating:  Pure crankable fun, as only the Pig can deliver!  Crank this up to 9 and enjoy it for what it is!

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