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Warpig - Warpig CD (album) cover

WARPIG

Warpig

 

Heavy Prog

3.18 | 19 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Warpig' - Warpig (63/100)

Many of the psychedelic blues rockers circa 1970 tend to cover the same narrow strip of territory soundwise, but Warpig are distinguished for perhaps being the first band I've heard from the style to be compatriots of mine. The crusade to take rock to new heights of fuzz and distortion with the help of blues tricks was a largely British movement, but it had its followers around the world. I recently listened to Australia's contribution to this dated style with Blackfeather and their debut At the Mountains of Madness. Checking out Warpig has felt like a natural continuation of that experience; both bands essentially petered out following their debuts, each took the British hard rock formula to their respective ends of the Commonwealth, and both managed to carve out decently memorable records without necessarily advancing the template they worked with. Warpig's self-titled debut has not aged well in the decades since its release, but for all its primitive simplicity, they had a character and energy to them that set them apart from the wannabes.

Sex, sleaze, and a liberal dose of early Deep Purple influence; add these things together and you should have a solid idea what Warpig sound like. Fronted capably by Rick Donmoyer, the album does not mince words, nor pull its punches. While their set-up was generally straightforward, Warpig-- like many of their heavy psych contemporaries-- opted to play around with a variety of different scopes in their music. "Flaggit" and "Tough Nuts" are fast and to-the-point blues rockers, while "Melody with Balls" and the enigmatically titled "U.X.I.B" are slower, almost recalling the almighty Black Sabbath, who released their own debut earlier the same year. While there's no doubting Warpig had their hearts set on unpretentious distortion worship, they occasionally demonstrate higher aims here. "Advance in A Minor" is a surprisingly highbrow instrumental; modern ears might still dismiss it as simplistic, but it's enough to show these guys weren't as simplistic as some of their more straightforward material makes them out to be.

Warpig flaunt their Deep Purple influence, mostly through the keyboard presence, performed here by Dana Smith. Beyond that, the band offer a very basic hard rock set-up. The drums are tight and punchy, and the guitar solos (of which there are plenty) don't dare to tread outside the comforting familiarity of the pentatonic scale. Even for their time, I don't think Warpig would be turning any heads with their style; of the bands I've heard playing this style, these guys sound like most of them. Where I think Warpig begin to stand out is the personality they inject into the formula. As a rule, bands of their ilk attempted to put a faster, grittier and generally heavier angle on the common formula they were using. In this regard, their basic premise wasn't much different from the average, but I haven't heard too many that got across the same extent of energy. Warpig exhibit their lustful motivations front and centre. Excluding the uncharacteristically poetic "Sunflight" (which reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult, and may be my favourite cut off the album) Rick Donmoyer's lyrics explicitly recount the sexual urges that go along with the rockstar lifestyle. Like the music, the lyrics are blunt, and difficult to enjoy on more than a surface level, but I have to admire the fact that they didn't try to dress up their subject with metaphor or flowery imagery.

Although claims that they took their name from a similarly-titled tune by Black Sabbath are decidedly false (Paranoid wouldn't be released until the latter half of the same year) it's interesting to me that people would think of Sabbath while listening to Warpig. It's not at all surprising to me, either; although the album's not quite heavy enough to warrant direction comparison with the proto-doomsters, there's an ominous edge to some of their riffs (most notably those in "U.X.I.B") that may very well peg Warpig as one of Canada's first proto-metal acts. This fact alone should pique the curiosity of rock historians, if no one else. Musically speaking, Warpig were a fair bit better than the unknown mediocres that saturated 1970 with this sort of primitive fuzz. Listeners in search of an early progressive rock masterpiece will come out empty-handed, however. This is a solid album, but it's nothing you won't have already heard many times before.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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