Blessing The Hogs
The Twelve Gauge Solution
posted on 7/2005 By:
There was a time, decades ago, when the term ‘heavy’ meant something. Not to say it doesn’t mean anything now, mind, but the term once had a much narrower and more specific meaning than today’s catchall denotation. To a rock aficionado in that foul Year of Our Lord, Nineteen-Hundred and Seventy One, musically ‘heavy’ meant you sounded like Sabbath and that was pretty much that. Thirty-four years later, of course, things have changed a little bit. There’s still heavy like Iommi and company, sure enough, but there’s also thrashing heavy, and brutal (or br00tal if you prefer) death metal heavy, and atmospheric Neurosis heavy, and speed-snorting frantic grindcore heavy, and a million other different meanings for a word that once simply described the now-tiny metal subgenre of classic doom. It’s a testament to the breadth of the expression nowadays that something that doesn’t even fall into any of those traditional categorizations can still be as undeniably, inescapably heavy as The Twelve-Gauge Solution.
The obvious and vast musical pedigree brought to this band by guru Billy Anderson aside, Blessing the Hogs have delivered one weighted-down colossus of a record here. The first similarity that came to mind upon listening was actually with underrated Philly metalcore bruisers How It Ends; the bands share a grim, gritty, downtuned visage that emphasizes their tendency to unload gigantic, sweltering grooves with stone-faced efficacy. You’ll find no bouncy Hatebreed moshisms here; the spectacularly weighty slams here are clearly more borne of early Swedish and English death metal (think equal parts Entombed and Bolt Thrower) than of any hardcore influence. That’s not to say there’s none of said influence to be found here; the blistering intensity of Blood Has Been Shed and particularly the unstable technicality of Coalesce are both present here between the fifty-ton grooves. Like those bands, Blessing the Hogs are not afraid to mix it up with a little speed or complexity, and drummer Matt D. doesn’t shy away from throwing down a blastbeat or polyrhythm from time to time. Fortunately, though, the band primarily plays to their strength, and it’s rarely long before those mega-dense grooves come rolling back through the speakers. As ever, the problem with this type of exercise in aural muscularity is repetition; as impressively thick and devastating as Blessing the Hogs are, you can only stomp all over the listener’s ear drums so many times before they’re too squashed flat to make much of an impression on. The roared vocals of guitarists Anderson and John Sargentini don’t really do much to help the issue; while certainly adequate, they sound monotone next to the shredding vox of the always-excellent Sean Ingram (ex-Coalesce), who handles the two stellar cover tracks on the album. The one thing that Anderson does bring to this band with near-faultless aplomb is sound quality; The Twelve-Gauge Solution wouldn’t sound nearly so destructive without his intense (if gritty) production.
This album isn’t nearly as groundbreaking as many reviewers would have you believe, and is certainly redundant in spots through its lengthy running time, but it does not fail in its mission to smash the fuck out of everyone who hears it. Anyone who enjoys straightforward, aggressive music won't be let down, and while it’s not likely that Blessing the Hogs will alter the course of your musical life, they’re liable to create a sizable impact crater in it. I daresay the progenitors of ‘heavy’ would be proud.
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