Review Summary: Abrasively awesome
Righteous Pigs are an extremely influential grindcore/hardcore band from Las Vegas, Nevada. They’re most renowned for Mitch Harris, the band’s vocalist who would later join Napalm Death. Most of Napalm’s early crust content actually comes from the original sound of this band. Take note, a lot of the band’s rawest content found in their demos, and their extremely fast production, “Live and Learn” will later form Napalm Death’s revered sound. On the other hand, “Stress Related” shows the band evolving into a much slower style that is more about abrasive lyric passages and death metal-like musicianship than anything else. Everything inside this album is about getting in your face, and going as hard as it can while maintaining the slower, groovier style the band has chosen. When all is said and done, this is Righteous Pigs most solid and well-produced album to date.
There are many highlights about this album, but the 3 that stick out the most are the cleaner production, the vocal mastery, and the fact that this album is catchy hooks paradise. If you are a any fan of their demos, prepare for an extreme change in sound. This album’s cleaner production allows just about every sound the band makes to be heard and even understood concisely, which is a huge switch up. Even the vocals are understandable, which makes the lyrical nature of this part of the equation, which is not usually the case with Righteous Pigs’ recordings. But the big thing about this album is that it is so catchy, it’s insane. The riff structure is top notch, most especially in the introductions to most songs, and a few songs these hooks right into the verses with Harris’s vocals just tearing up the place. Songs like “Manson Clan” and “Open Wound” are excellent examples of being musically catchy, as well as rhythmic vocals; but that can be found just about every song on here. On top of incredibly catchy guitars are the drums, which actually retain their incredibly fast nature, and do well to uphold the whole groove quality of the album. Not the mention they’re very well produced too, very clean and concise, making every snare, hat, tom, and kick an important part to each song. This is the definitive carefully constructed hardcore album for its time, and every piece of it belongs where it’s laid.
In all reality, this really isn’t a grind album, even though the band is tagged with grindcore. This album lies on the line between hardcore and death metal, which entails a few things. Most significantly the album is longer than 15 minutes. It’s nearly 40 minutes in length, which is astounding because an album as good as this one deserves to be enjoyed for as long as possible. Even the songs that are 3-4 minutes long don’t get stale, the riffs are constantly changing to avoid going stagnant, and there are many different vocal performances here. Frequently it’s just the unmistakable New York style hardcore vocals, but every now and again Mitch will do different pitches of gutturals, which is good because in a few of the songs his hardcore voice does get slightly stale. This rarely happens though, because the lyrics themselves are even abrasive, really up front, and I don’t know about anyone else, but they just drag me in. Personally, I think the lyrics are very fun to listen to for the most part. Every now and again though, especially in the last couple tracks of the album, the use of “fu
ck” does get a little old, but aside from that the lyrics do provide a great puller for the album.
Sadly enough, this would be the last output by the band while they were together. After this Mitch Harris would move on to Napalm Death, and the band would split up. I have heard however that the band (I don’t know about Harris) would reunite to play at the Maryland Deathfest XI in May of this year. But as far as another incredible album like this, or another insanely raw demo, or another fast-paced grind album like Live and Learn, no more will be released under this name, which is really a shame. Righteous Pigs formed to shape the grindcore genre into what was one of the best times for the genre, and all that is left of the band comes in the form of their old demo tapes and rare/expensive CD’s, gathering dust underneath Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer albums. This is a band that simply needs more recognition simply because they were on the forerunners of the incredibly genre of grind, and one of the best of them at that.