After a studio recording hiatus of a quarter century, One Bad Pig has come back strong. It turns out these rock veterans have stayed in touch with one another, playing the occasional one-off gig, having plenty left in the tank and still with something to say. Combined with the equal importance of musical talent to bring to the table, Love You to Death is 15 songs of relevance, energy and full-on rock.
The Austin-based band’s fifth studio album is an impressive group of styles, equal parts punk, rock and metal. There’s plenty to like here, from the pop punk-ish “Teenage Royalty,” the old school medley of “Sunday School Rawk” and the dirty metal of “Get Your Hands Dirty.” (The former even features a lead vocal trade-off between Bloodgood’s Les Carlsen and Carey “Kosher” Womack.) The title track comes in fast with an incessant riff, snapping snare and a declaration of love in the face of disbelief and skepticism.
Veterans of Christian rock will no doubt dig the pumped up cover of the 77s classic, “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life.” It’s a fun take and turns the chorus into an Irish pub sing-along, complete with the ubiquitous chants of, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”
My favorite track is “What Does the Fool Say,” which features a wry and twisted BGV sound that acts as the first repeated “call” that each subsequent “response” answers — “What does the fool say? There is no God, I’ve been left here all alone.” (Add several other atheistic claims and you have an idea of what the other verses say.) This part of the song sounds really fun, catchy and filled with rock-and-roll attitude. It’s the channel that makes the song truly wonderful. It’s a praise-filled answer that declares Who God is: “He is the Way and the Truth and the Life / There is no other Name under Heaven / By which we must be saved” and “Abba, Adonai / Alpha and Omega / Christ the King, Comforter / Creator, Deliverer.” It’s energetic, powerful and truly worship at full volume.
“Heads Will Roll” is probably the most somber Pig tune in their catalog, dealing with the persecuted side of martyrdom. It’s timely and heavy, since heads are literally rolling from enemies of the cross. This is a dynamic interlude from the rest of the album, which is more frolicking and fun. It’s coupled with a brooding bass line and some atonal screaming and creative instrumentation. Speaking of the mix, drummer PJ Bostic (aka Paul Roraback) did a splendid job of engineering and mixing this album.
“Ben Moors” is a hoot of a song that turned out pretty good, seeing how it was a reward, a perk rewarded to Mr. Moors from Kickstarter: “Your Name as the Title of a Song on the CD.” (This is also how the “Mitch Connell Presents” title on the cover got there, and how the Executive Producer title was awarded to funder Matthias Schweizer.) The creative additives of the intertwining guitar riffs on “Ben Moors,” the announced female voice on the chorus, and, to cap it off, a fun and flanged call and response between Womack and his bandmates (a la Queen, the Beach Boys or an R&B choir). Ben Moors is one rewarded guy.
It seems like a calculated risk when a successful band reunites to record new material. Anything they create will be judged by their past as they carry with them their canon, their most popular songs. The good news is One Bad Pig’s risk has paid off. They’ve returned strong and on top of their game. OBP fans are going to love it, and it’s good enough to expand that audience, too.