The metal world is far different than it was just seven years ago. Agalloch was still a band, people still took Wintersun seriously, and this new beast called “metallic hardcore” was first rearing its HM2-powered head. Spearheaded by groups like Black Breath, Enabler, and (arguably) Nails, the style rejected the Gothenburg-inspired metalcore of the mid-00s by instead delivering a violent combination of frenetic metal riffing and pummeling hardcore fury. It was a sound that Massachusetts’s All Pigs Must Die embraced with open arms. A supergroup of sorts, Pigs formed in 2010 under the direction of Converge and Mutoid Man drummer Ben Koller along with current and former members of The Red Chord, Bloodhorse, and The Hope Conspiracy. Though their style was in vogue, they were hardly chasing a trend: works like the group’s self-titled EP and 2011 debut God Is War proved just as punishing and potent as anything produced by their brethren.

But times change. Breath have been quiet since releasing a largely mediocre death metal album two years ago, Enabler imploded around that same time, and even Pigs’ last record was Nothing Violates This Nature way back in 2013. In a world where the metallic hardcore vanguard has begun to falter, will third full-length Hostage Animal show these Pigs flying high or will they become just as tangled as that rat king on the cover? The only way to find out is to dive in.

Animal explodes immediately with the title track, wasting no time with an intro and quickly educating listeners on what the band is about: charging crust beats, furious blasting, guitars set to overdrive, and the enraged screams of Hope Conspiracy vocalist Kevin Baker. While riff-wise it’s not the most interesting song, the repeated vocal motif of “A black hole at the center of everything!” offers some fist-raising memorability. “A Caustic Vision” follows by turning the dial up further, breaking in with quick pounding chords that barrel forward like a rampaging mama bear. After some squealing tremolos, the song finally collapses into a devastating chug that’s sure to result in at least one broken nose when it’s played live. Late highlight “Blood Wet Teeth” follows a similar structure, beginning with a crunchy riff that moves into screaming Cult Leader dissonance before settling into its own face-destroying chug.

As was the case with Nature, it’s not all blasting and bashing. After three quick cuts, Pigs slow the tempo with “Slave Morality” and “End Without End,” two 5-plus minute tracks which sound more like Crowbar than Cursed. While “Morality” features some serious heft and wailing stoner metal leads, it ultimately feels like a slow burner that never quite scorches. “End” fares better, building from a tribal beat into high-pitched, oscillating notes before concluding with a dread-inducing riff that recalls a meaner Saturnus. Even “End,” however, stumbles midway through with an abrupt transition to clean picking that sounds like somebody randomly decided to start jamming Metallica’s “Fade to Black.”

At this point my ambivalence is probably obvious. Part of the problem is the slower songs: in addition to hurting the album’s pace by grinding it to a halt midway through, only “Cruelty Incarnate” feels like it effectively incorporates both facets of the band’s sound. Each of the other nine tracks is either fast and short or sludgy and long, resulting in two distinct styles that could have made things more interesting if they’d been better integrated. It also doesn’t help that several of the shorter tracks like “Meditation of Violence” lack interesting ideas and instead feel like they exist solely as a counterpoint to the slower tempos.

On the plus side, the 35-minute length and boomy, in-your-face production suit the style well, and the band’s vicious energy has hardly taken a hit in their four-year absence. In all Animal is by no means a bad album, just an enjoyable one with some notable issues. As always Pigs sound high on rage and low on mercy, and it certainly helps that tracks like closer “Heathen Reign” feature a bleak sense of melody which may be attributed to former Trap Them guitarist Brian Izzi joining the ranks. Fans will likely eat up Animal, as will those who enjoy similar acts like Full of Hell and Young and in the Way. It may have been a few years since metallic hardcore was truly fresh, but that doesn’t mean these Pigs should die just yet.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Southern Lord Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 27th, 2017

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    People had already stopped taking Wintersun “seriously” in 2010. Especially since they’d already been waiting 6 years for a new album.

    • Morbid Brenda

      People took wintersun seriously?

    • Frost15

      I take Wintersun seriously. The crowdfunding situation was overexaggerated and misunderstood imho…

    • Alright, alright, I’ll bite: Who’s Wintersun again?

      • Guppy

        Crap finnish band.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        …an Ensiferum side-project?

  • JeremyZero

    As a fan, and someone who enjoys the other mentioned bands, I can confirm that I did indeed enjoy this album quite a bit.

    • lennymccall

      Agreed. 4.5 in my book and close to if not my top fave this year.

      • JeremyZero

        Yeah, the fast songs shred, and I love the atmosphere in the slower stuff. I’m really impressed with it so far. Admittedly, I do really love the whole blackened, grindy, metallic hardcore thing, but regardless of bias, I think it’s a good album.

        • lennymccall

          Yeah I’m biased too. YAITW, Black Breath, Trap Them, Generation of Vipers, I’m such a sucker for this type of ferocity.

          • JeremyZero

            I fucking love Nails and Full Of Hell as well. I need to listen to YAITW more though, they didn’t click for some reason.

          • Mark Z

            I’m not the hugest fan of their other stuff but YAITW’s “When Life Comes to Death” is a really great record. I’d check that one out if you haven’t already.

  • drug_genosh

    just here to gripe about your use of “metallic hardcore”, which makes the great “metalcore / metallic hardcore / hardcore with metal influences” debate of the 90s vs 00s even more confusing. cant we call this HM2-core or some shit?


      Agreed. This may be splitting hairs but “metallic hardcore” goes at least back to Rorscach, Botch, Converge, Cave In, arguably all the way back to Neurosis or side 2 of My War.

      • drug_genosh

        exactly! im ok with Clandestine-core. Maybe Swedetallic Hardcore?

      • Name’s Dalton

        Will AMG be reviewing the new Unsane album that Southern Lord released? I’m assuming they sent a promo.

  • Planex

    Still sad about Agalloch huh?

    • The Akerstache

      There are people who aren’t?

      • Cody Miller

        Hey, at least Pillorian was pretty awesome. There’s that!

        • Was it?

          • Cody Miller

            Sure was.

          • I’m waiting on Khorada. I think that’s how you spell it.

          • Cody Miller

            I am unaware of this, but I am now curious. Giant Squid and Agalloch members, eh?

      • Truth talker

        Agalloch sucked.

  • ElephantsMarching

    I listened to the embedded track, and it just made me want to listen to last year’s Nails instead

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Except Wilbur and Babe.

  • Wes Allen

    “Long story snort…” Nice pig-pun.

  • Gibvly

    Umm Brian izzi isstil in trap them.I think I pointed this out before.can you guys docyour research before talking crap please????

  • Moderatelypeevedmetalman

    Yea Brian is still in trap them he never left I think the guy below means wen agm reported trap them broke up in some review.they’re still active and Brian is still there 100%

  • Grindygrinerson

    As I own the first to pigs LPs I’m surprised you’re calling them metallic hardcore. The first two LPs were grind straight up.

  • Dead1

    Other people have said it but metallic hardcore has been around for over 20 years!

    “At this point my ambivalence is probably obvious”
    Just because you’re ambivalent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research.
    So basically we have a Metalsucks level article – I expect more from AMG reviewers.

  • Fishface

    Most sites refer to this band as thrashing death metal.hey where’d those guys comments go? Nazi much??

  • Lithophyte

    Hardcore grind I’d call it. Vocals echo all the way back to Henry Rollins

  • lennymccall

    Wait did you just bad mouth Black Breaths Slaves Beyond Death? Seriously? For shame…

    Me thinks tho may not liketh Metallic Hardcore too very much.
    It’s all good but I loved this record front to back. Yep fan boy for APMD here.

    • Mark Z

      Slaves wasn’t bad but they basically removed all hardcore influences from it. It was more or less a straight death metal record. Not to mention most of the second half was a slog.

      I do like me some metallic hardcore, I think I’ve just become more picky about it having listened to the genre pretty extensively for a few years now. Cult Leader’s last album was one of my favorite albums of 2015 and I really enjoyed the last Nails record too.

      • lennymccall

        I hear ya Slaves was definitely a HM2 worship record, not as (at all) hardcore influenced.
        I love it with all my being tho, it’s such a ripping record.

        See Nails is just straight Grind to my ear, I dig em tho. Haven’t given Cult Leader much attention, may need to revisit.

  • dedseed1

    That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

  • sir_c

    All Pigs must die, is that some derivation of Cop Killer?

  • Metrognome26

    So that riffing at the start of A Caustic Vision… That’s pretty much the intro riff to Hammer Smashed Face, right?