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Sweet sonic satisfaction for fans of industrial rock, the latest from Raymond Watts’ PIG, “The Merciless Light” is a solid offering.

Pig-The-Merciless-Light

The year is 1994, and industrial music rules the airwaves. Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral is topping the charts, and other industrial bands like Gravity Kills and Machines of Loving Grace are on meteoric (albeit short-lived) upward trajectories. That new sound, heavy and mechanical, is all the rage; it’s a good time to be a fan of alternative music.

And yet, what most American audiences didn’t know at the time, was that industrial music wasn’t new at all.

Bands like Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, and KMFDM had been doing that same sound for almost a decade prior. And doing it better, I might add. Yes, Trent Reznor brought industrial into the mainstream, adding some pop sensibilities while doing so. But the back catalog from the grandfathers of industrial formed the sturdy steps that NIN climbed.

KFMDM bears special mention, as Raymond Watts was heavily involved with that band during its inception and features on early releases from the mid-to-late 80s. Crunchy beats, distorted guitars, synthesizers and samplers, and slinky/angsty vocals from Watts…it was all there.

And when most of KMFDM eventually moved to the States, seeking (and finding) greater fortune, Watts stayed behind, forming PIG in the process.

While industrial’s light faded sometime in the mid-aughts, there remain a huge number of bands (mostly foreign) which have stuck with that mechanical sound, Pig being one of them. To say Raymond Watts has been doing it for a long time is an understatement; he has been in the biz for roughly forty years.

The guy is, in short, a legend.

The Merciless Light is the latest release from the Porcine Prince, aka the Lord of Lard, and features twelve songs of svelte sonic seduction.

Raymond-Watts

That’s not just a nifty alliterative phrase (more on this later); PIG’s music frequently sounds like the bastard love child of industrial/rock and lounge music, conceived in some drug-fueled back-alley tryst and determined to lay waste to airwaves of ill-repute.

To be fair, that has always been Watts’ kink.

While KFMDM skewed heavily towards politically charged songs, PIG has always been more interested in examining the perversions and pleasures of humanity’s darker sides.

While some of PIG's more recent output has been hit or miss, THE MERCILESS LIGHT is a pretty solid industrial/rock record from start to finish. Share on X

The first three songs cover nearly the entire range of the PIG experience: if you don’t like any of the first three tracks, then Raymond Watts’ music is absolutely not going to be your cup of gin.

The album opener No Yes More Less is an absolute banger, an industrial/metal barrage that encapsulates everything I love about Raymond Watts’ music. Heavy beats, electric guitar in power-chord mode, in-your-face synths, Watt’s voice going from growling to preachy.

This is quintessential PIG. It sounds especially good on headphones, where all the electronic nuances really stand out.

Veni Vidi Vici is a languorous affair, a more gritty gospel number than a stadium anthem. But it’s still a damn fine track, backed by guitars and a drum kit. The synths are a little more downplayed here, letting the vocals take center stage more often than not.

The third track, Feed The Wound, is another staple PIG offering, a quasi-heavy stomper with female backing vocals that wouldn’t necessarily be out of place on a Sisters of Mercy song. The guitars are prominent in the mix here, propelling the song along with conviction.

Glitz Krieg stands out due to its marching beat and blasphemous overtones. The music sounds like it was lifted straight off of a KMFDM album. Raymond Watts loves mashing religious doctrine over BDSM-tinted choruses, with this track being a prime example.

The Dark Room sounds like PIG of the nineties (not a bad thing). I wouldn’t be surprised to find this track on either of his seminal albums, Sinsation or Wrecked. Heavy guitars provide the background, with Raymond’s snarling delivery giving the song its teeth.

Speak of Sin, Limbo, Sugar My Pill, Tarantula, and The Judas Chair are decent songs, ranging from bizarre tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Twin Peaks movie (Limbo) to Raymond Watts 101 offerings (The Judas Chair).

Not everything is pink swine skin, however.

Obliteration Liberation has moments of greatness but feels too disparate and disjointed to really land with any impact. The title track, The Merciless Light, is merely ok, with interesting electronic soundscapes coupled with lyrics and vocals that never really captivate.

I’ve been very much on the fence about Watts’ post-nineties output. I’m glad he’s back to making music, but much of what was on offer did very little for me outside of a few diamonds in the rough.

With The Merciless Light, however, PIG is on the comeback trail, and I’m excited to see what he comes up with next.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

Bonus review (Drugged, Dangerous & Damned Remix EP)

Pig-DDD

It’s nearly impossible to talk about PIG without talking about alliteration.

Watts is well known for using alliterative song titles (Prayer Praise & Profit, Riot Religion & Righteousness, Sin Sex & Salvation, et al.), and this one is no different. The Drugged, Dangerous & Damned EP, released in 2021, features remixes of songs lifted from PIG’s 2020 album Pain Is God, including the alliterative title track.

Drugged Dangerous & Damned – Jagz Kooner Remix takes what was arguably a mediocre track and elevates it to near-classic status. The basic elements of the song are all in place, but Jagz pumps it all up to 11, making the song more propulsive and immediate. The beat, the synths, the vocals…they just hit hard. Can’t tear myself away, but I’ll tear myself apart. Good stuff.

Rock N Roll Refugee – Night Club Remix is honestly how the song should have sounded on the album. The song was already slinky and sultry to begin with, but Night Club really brings the sleaze and seduction to the fore, making the song more club friendly in the process. Just ignore the fact that this song title was originally a Pink Floyd lyric…

German industrial pioneers Die Krupps provide a remix of Seed of Evil, which sounds very much like the Die Krupps of old. I’m glad to see them making a return, as they were a personal favorite of mine back in my formative years. I can’t say they really improve on the original track so much as provide an interesting alternative take on it.

Mobocracy – Filter Remix is…well…it’s a remix. Honestly, this one did nothing for me. It’s a subdued take on the track, and I just couldn’t get into it.

Raymond Watts delivers his own remix with Rock N Roll Refugee – PIG Remix, and it’s just ok. The lyrics are manipulated with vocoder, but that doesn’t really change the feel of the song as it should. I don’t know that I’d call this a remix per se…more like an alternate take.

Pain is God – Youth Code Remix transforms the song into an industrial/metal locomotive, motoring ahead with speed and precision. Twenty-year-old me would have eaten this one right up; forty-year-old me can appreciate it, but it’s not necessarily anything amazing.

Jagz Kooner offers up a cleaner & shorter version of his original remix with Drugged Dangerous & Damned – Jagz’s Clean Short. I guess this is if you want to play it at church or something. I don’t know…the original remix works much better, as I’m not a fan of radio edits.

Pain is God – John Fryer Remix closes out the EP, and it brings the sleaze while exploring a more evil and ambient sound. Hard to describe, but it works.

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