January 12, 2006 | | 4.5

Blessing the Hogs, The Twelve Gauge Solution

Blessing the Hogs have a sound that is chock full of all kinds of heavy goodness — grind, sludge, noise, thrash. I haven’t heard any of their previous releases so I’m not sure how The Twelve Gauge Solution compares, but what I can strongly state is that as far as heavy music goes, this is one of the better releases this year. With one of their lead singers, Billy Anderson, having produced the likes of Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Cathedral, it’s easy to see where his band gets its influence and top notch production.

All of the tracks on this CD weigh in at no less than three minutes in length, the longest coming in at over 7 minutes. This gives the listener about 45 minutes of original dark and evil music in addition to the two tracks covering The Melvins and Quicksand. Overall, the album has a great flow even during several chaotic riff and drum combinations in a couple of the tracks.

Botched Messiah. The album starts off with some grungy, dirty thrash that quickly morphs into nice chugging riffs before we even hear a word from the vocalists. Random speaking from both singers start off the vocals before the shouts and screams kick in. My initial impression of the vocalists was that they were similar enough, even with their own unique sound, to really compliment and feed off one another for a great combined delivery.

Pretard. “Pretard” quickly fills the speakers as the opening track ends abruptly. It’s just as thrash laden as the previous song. There are some great slower portions to this track that give everything a brief feeling of calm and control to the otherwise chaotic guitars and drumming as both vocalist scream their ass off. There are a few riffs in this song that sort of remind me musically of the latest A Life Once Lost. The track ends with some crazy sound clips.

Let’s Play Doctor … Kevorkian. Screaming vocals and pounding drums kick off this one quickly after the last sound clip in “Pretard” fades. This is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s crusty-as-hell thrash that just plain sounds evil. There are some great blast beats midway though the track that lead into a few more sound clips. So far, I’ve got to say that the band’s use of media clips hasn’t done anything to disrupt the momentum of the album. I’m generally not one to really like too many clips added during production, but these add to the mood well.

That New Car Smell. Nicely timed drums and riffing guitars start this one off with a somewhat lengthy sound clip that distorts and fades into some pounding drums. The vocal delivery and some of the music on this one reminds me a bit of older Buzzov-en — unintelligible screams and a disjointed feel.

40 Drops of Marrow. After the reverb from “That New Car Smell” has faded the next track hammers in with one of the deeper riffs on the album. There’s a bit more variety in the vocal delivery this time around with some gruff shouts, death metal vocal bursts and higher range screams.

Hogleg. Here is the first of the two cover tracks on the album. “Hogleg” is song by the Melvins that, while I am not a huge fan of the band and have not heard this song before, is a pretty damned cool song. It starts off with only San Ingram of Coalesce shouting over industrial static. Once the crusty guitars and drums start up, Ingram remains on lead vocal duties. If I didn’t know better, and this track wasn’t on this CD, I’d have sworn that I was listening to a Coalesce album. The production is spot on.

Chemical Equalizer. The seventh track on the album technically starts during the end of “Hogleg” and quickly digresses into tortured shouts and screams over some creative riffing. Halfway through the album there’s a great breakdown that adds to the momentum, keeping this album chugging along like a sociopathic death machine.

18 Rabbit. What’s funny about this track is that after the first burst of vocals, the riffs remind me a great deal of Prong‘s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” I even started hearing that band’s lyrics in my head until Blessing the Hogs came back in with their own vocals. The vocal delivery on this one is a bit more in the background, but isn’t overwhelmed by the running breakdown styled riffs.

Ghündt. The excellent riff that starts this one sounds vaguely familiar. I can’t quite place where I’ve heard it before. It’s pretty damned catchy regardless. The way these guys trade of shouts and screams really makes this album as great as it is, especially with the deeper, fuller death metal style growls found on this track.

Son of Sanford. The song starts off a bit slower than the previous tracks on the album, but is no less dark and foreboding. It sounds like there may be a bit of distortion added to the vocals on this one, but with the way these guys have been screaming it may be all natural. Overall “Son of Sanford” is a slow paced, chugging monster that has quick paced blasts here and there.

Fazer. Sean Ingram is back on lead vocals with this Quicksand cover. As far as how it fits in with the rest of this album, I’m not sure that it does. The overall sound is much brighter than the original material. It’s a good song, but when compared with the rest of the album it’s upbeat sound causes it to stick out a bit too much.

Carrier. The sound clip that ends “Fazer” and starts this one off is fucking hysterical. It’s a great transition from the more upbeat sound of that song to the darker mosh of “The Carrier.”

Selficide. The final track on the album is also it’s longest (7 plus minutes). It’s also probably the most complex track on the album with layered guitars, screams and samples. After having your head beat in for the first 12 tracks, this one gets a bit tedious after a couple of minutes. It’s a great track when heard on its own or on a random play list on your MP3 player of choice.

Blessing the Hogs has been described as one of those few bands that really stick to their own guns and bucks current trends in the genre. After listening to this well produced album several times, I can see where that description has merit. If you like your music dark, crusty, and with plenty of quick thrashing guitars, you know what to do. Pick this one up.

Favorite Tracks:
Let’s Play Doctor … Kevorkian
40 Drops of Marrow
Son of Sanford

Additional Notes:
Enhanced CD with band videos and photos.