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WARPIG

Heavy Prog • Canada


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Warpig biography
Warpig's formation came the same as so many other rural Ontario bands of the mid 60's. Guitarist/singer Rick Donmoyer toiled the late 60's in a number of groups, including The Turbines, The Kingbees (later The Wot) and Mass Destruction.
But by late '66 Donmore found himself looking for a new project, and hooked up with fellow Mass Destruction alumni Terry Brett on bass, Dana Snitch (keyboards/guitars) and drummer Terry Hook, all Woodstock natives. Endless practices in the Hook basement led to Warpig a few months later. With a mix of influences rivalled by few in the area, the boys soon found themselves a steady on the Toronto independent scene for the better part of the next two years.

The band was seen by a label owner and were signed to FontHill Records in late 1968. They continued on the circuit, while writing original material and financing the recording of their first lp. With the production help of Robert Thomson, it finally saw the light of day in the spring of 1970. The album was full of raw power, with inspirational remnants from everything from the British Invasion to the surf sound, from Chet Atkins to Black Sabbath. Reminiscent of a less-structured Deep Purple album, tracks like the lead-off "Flaggit" and "Tough Nuts" gave you the unbridled passion of a young band doing it their way, while "Advance in A Minor" showed the band's tight structure and classical influences, in what could only be described as 'early eclectic post psychadelic'. A common theme throughout the lp was the band's pounding rhythms and straight forward guitar licks.

A 45 of "Rock Star" b/w "Flaggit" made the rounds of the radio stations, and along with their live show,the following grew. FontHill was bought out by London Records in '71, leaving the band in the lurches as to their status for several months. The band carried on throughout the circuit, when they discovered they were without a label. London reissued Warpig's debut a year later, repackaged and remastered.

The group carried on, writing material while on the road and slipping into the recording studio when they could book some time. But what was supposed to be the band's second lp got shelved when they couldn't find a distributor. Upset with management and the band's general direction, Snitch left the Warpig tent in '73, followed by the complete breakup of the band a short while later. Everyone went on to do outside projects and their own things, Donmoyer carried on in the business for a few...
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WARPIG discography


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WARPIG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 18 ratings
Warpig
1970

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WARPIG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Warpig by WARPIG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.16 | 18 ratings

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Warpig
Warpig Heavy Prog

Review by 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.

 Warpig by WARPIG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.16 | 18 ratings

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Warpig
Warpig Heavy Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Sole self-titled album from a Canadian heavy/proto-prog group that did not likely take their names from the Sabbath song. A double guitar quartet, even though Dana Snitch plays keyboards as well (organ & piano mainly) came from Southern Ontario (let's say Toronto was their backyard) and developed a hard-driving prog that hovers between Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster and other hard rockin' British groups of the times. Their only album got released twice, the second time in72 on a different label, got remastered and benefited from a new sleeve "artwork" (the one featured above), but the first pressing is now much- sought after.

The album opener Flaggit was also issued as a single and it's a catchy heavy rock up- tempo blues-derived tune, enthralling despite the band's lack of a distinct sound, but the guitars are well out front. Tough Nuts is more of the same. The following Melody With Balls is a slower and heavier track, where Donmoyer's guitar seems to have slept with Blackmore's Stratocaster and borrowed its timbre. The next (album-longest) track, Advance Am, is quite a (welcomed) change, but the piano-dominated tune is a rather patchy attempt at being progressive, though not entirely convincing, even if the piano seems to be played like a harpsichord. Rock Star is the B-side of the single, but from what I hear, it would've been more successful than its A-side. Sunflight is definitely one of the better track on the album, and is a bit reminiscent of Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep. Next up is U.X.I.B. (don't ask), starting on a harpsichord that leads you into an organ and heavy guitar blues chords and riffs, before veering slightly psych and a tad oriental, like East Of Eden's debut. The closing Moth is in line with the rest of the album, but it might just be the fastest song of theirs (well outside the slow middle section), and derails completely at the end wuith that looney laughter.

While the second release of their album drew some sales, it might just seem to today's progheads that Warpig's work came a tad too late for that summer of 73. Then first the drummer first, then the keyboardist would leave the band and if the band remained alive, opening concerts for major acts throughout Ontario until 75, even starting a second album, it would be it in terms of releases. The Cd reissue of 06 on Relapse is a legit one and sports the second (London label) sleeve While Warpig might appear a bit raw and rough- edged to symphonic progheads, they were part of the second wave of bands behind the pioneering groups like Nucleus, Plastic Cloud, Collectors (future Chilliwack), Guess Who, etc?. By all means not essential at all, but still a pleasant manner to fill you shelves. Your call really.

Thanks to debrewguy for the artist addition.

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