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Metropolis Records

Raymond Watts has been Pig for a long time, and on Pigmata it shows. Consumed in a vacuum, the album is a solid work of gritty intensity utilizing the skills Watts has acquired over the course of his long career, which includes collaborations with industrial luminaries such as KMFDM. Heard in the context of Pig's lengthy discography, though, Pigmata shows signs of treading water - or, perhaps, given Watts' preference in lyrical imagery, shooting up from the same needle one too many times.

Like Pig's last album, Genuine American Monster (2002), Pigmata mostly alternates between one-word song titles ("Reject," "Take," "Junky") and tripled alliteration ("Suck Spit Shit," "Vitriol Vice And Virtue"). Over a generally midtempo beat, simple distorted guitar riffs and moody synthesizer lines back Watts' chant-like tales of degradation. But again, like the previous album, Pigmata avoids monotony and reveals the breadth of Watts' sonic capacity by throwing occasional curveballs, from the Aphex Twin-like beats that open "Kundalini" to the truly bizarre "On The Slaughterfront," which opens with female vocals over a light R'n'B shuffle, then launches into a perverse, gravel-throated rap in which Watts sounds like nothing so much as Tom Waits covering Green Jello's "Three Little Pigs." As if that weren't enough, the track features a surprisingly tasteful saxophone solo that seems to have wandered in from one of Morphine's noir-drenched sagas. If its title is about as clever as, say, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, "On The Slaughterfront" does beat Genuine American Monster's parallel effort at wordplay, "A Fete Worse Than Death." But it's an undeniably gripping tune, surviving its shock appeal to sustain repeated listens. With more of its ilk, Pigmata coulda been a contender, so to speak.

As is, this is the kind of album that offers few surprises, "Slaughterhouse" duly excepted. Watts can't be faulted too much for doing what he does best, and Pig changes things up more than the Ramones ever did; which didn't stop them from (deservedly) attaining legendary status. Tracks like "Filth Healer" might sound exactly like you'd expect them to, but if you know Pig, those expectations are high.

-Whit Strub

Track listing:
1. Suck Spit Shit
2. Here To Stay
3. Reject
4. Situation
5. Kundalini
6. Vitriol Vice and Virtue
7. Take
8. Arbor Vitae
9. Stage Slut
10. Junky
11. God Rod
12. On The Slaughterfront
13. Filth Healer

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