While black, death, and doom metal may be my forte (and what I spend the most time with), there is something about a grimy, fisticuff-inducing hardcore album that scratches a certain itch for me. Maybe it’s all the metalcore I cut my teeth on in high school, but it just feels like a good time. It’s nice to find bands now that take elements of hardcore and bring it to a level of darkness that matches the rest of the music I listen to, and one such act that is a go-to of mine is All Pigs Must Die. Their brand of dark, visceral hardcore consistently delivers the goods, and nowhere more so than on their new album, Hostage Animal.
Hostage Animal is APMD’s first recording in four years, and the time spent away has seen the band reinvigorated. The songs presented here are both the best hardcore the band has put out, and also APMD’s most boundary-pushing material yet. Songs like the album-opening title track “Blood Wet Teeth” and “Meditation of Violence” bring the pain, combining elements of hardcore, metalcore, and grind to devastating effect. It’s a particular brand of chaos that APMD have built as their foundation, but here on Hostage Animal, things feel even more off-the-rails than ever before. The vocal delivery is wild and frantic, and the instruments feel as though they’re inches from coming undone. Everything happens with the speed and ferocity of a runaway train, and it lends a palpable excitement to the recording.
What makes Hostage Animal such a surprise is the small ways in which the band has seemed to push their sound in different directions over the course of the last four years. “Slave Morality” and “End Without End”, the two songs that function as the centerpiece of the album, are sludgy, pounding pieces that stand in sharp contrast to the rest of the album; “End Without End” in particular features a chiming, clean guitar outro that feels very goth/post-punk influenced in its approach. “Cruelty Incarnate” even features some honest (and well-executed) black metal in its ending section. This is nowhere near a ‘reinvention’ of APMD’s sound, but it’s nice to see a band that’s unafraid to mix things up, and in this case, their experiments proved highly enjoyable.
It’s no secret that the hardcore scene was dealt a large blow when Trap Them decided to hang up their gloves earlier this year. If any band has a right to step up and take that crown for their own, APMD have proven with Hostage Animal that they deserve it. This is an album that feels alive in ways that hardcore albums haven’t felt for me in a long time, and it’s not one that you should overlook.