Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pretty Pig to the Slaughter

Magic?  Anger?  Experimental nonsense?  Nazis on a warpath?  Death in June’s All Pigs Must Die has been called all those things.  No matter what you call it, though, it is amazing.

The story behind the album goes something like this: Douglas Pearce, Death in June’s masked face, had some issues with the business practices of World Serpent Distribution, a company he helped create.  When Pearce finally got fed up, he made this album as a ritualized magic attack to take it down.  Yes, that’s the story, and if you don’t believe it keep in mind that Pearce himself has called the release “a cleaning, an act of revenge and contempt.”  (Take that, Rage Against the Machine.)

Regardless of what one thinks of that tale, the 2001 result is a stunning work of art just shy of 40 minutes in scope.  Part neofolk and part experimental mind destroyer, these 11 songs will have an effect on you … and for some, that effect is far from positive.  There are people cannot stand to listen to the songs because they sound so “wrong” and “evil.”  Others, like myself, have no problem with Pearce’s “We Said Destroy II” and “Ride Out!”  And yes, that is Boyd Rice doing the narration.  (More magic at work.)

Just looking at the cover of All Pigs Must Die lets you know you aren’t in for the usual Death in June release.  A masked Pearce wielding a knife amongst the Three Little Pigs makes for quite an alarming photo.  It looks clandestine.  It looks sinister.  It looks like a warning, and it is a running theme throughout the work.  When you play it … well, that feeling doesn’t go away.

The title song is the first thing you’ll hear on the album.  It’s a calm, though somewhat disturbing tune.  “Tick Tock” is next, and is the first time listeners hear Rice’s voice.  It’s also calm and somewhat uncomfortable.  Song five is where it all starts to change.  “We Said Destroy II,” mentioned earlier, kicks the spell into full gear and takes any previous serenity and extinguishes it.  By the end of the album, senses are left reeling and fans divided.

I know where I stand on this release.  It has been said it is too self-indulgent, and that is true, but that is what makes it so remarkable.  It can’t be anymore self-indulgent actually, but it’s that way for a reason.  It was created with one thing in mind (and it should be noted that World Serpent did go out of business), and that “thing” beats the usual self-indulgence that is really just nonsense masked as soul-cleansing.  Pearce’s agenda here makes this unique in the annals of music history.  He understands that music can be magic (something I believe the old blues performers understood, too) better than any other performer alive today, and that shows here.  Death in June has rarely disappointed me, and this is no exception.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive this for review.  If you click on a link, you may earn me a commission.