Article By: Kira Schlechter ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Formed in 2016, hailing from Wisconsin and Illinois, and made up of multi-instrumentalist Dan Guenther (who excels on all of them) and bellowing singer Brian Worth, ACTS OF SWINE have learned well at the altars of their old-school death metal influences – Jungle Rot, Bolt Thrower, and Obituary, among others.
Their début album, ‘Sadistically Speaking,’ out now on Bandcamp [HERE], includes the usual Cannibal Corpse-esque tales of blood and guts brutality (“Bludgeoned,” the crazed “Implements Of Hell,” the, ahem, colorful “Phantom Mutilation”) that could be taken as real or metaphoric, made unique by Worth’s sophisticated (OK, yeah, and occasionally sick) vocabulary and imagination.
But the most compelling tracks by far are the ones that reflect our troubled times, like the wickedly clever “The Holy See Nothing” (get it?), an especially current track considering the recent extensive grand jury report on sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. It solemnly predicts divine retribution for those who were allowed to get away with their horrific behavior.
The sludgy “Into Misery” (promo video below) is an observation on how humanity is tied together in negative ways (“Codependent in our sorrow/Finding lust in our grieving/And love in our hatred”), perhaps a commentary on the sometimes cannibalizing culture of social media.
“Crib Cage,” with its pummeling groove, is drawn straight from several current horrible stories of children being imprisoned by disturbed parents. The newscast segment midway through bounces from ear to ear in chilling detachment.
“Conceal & Kill” is a chilling look inside the delusional paranoid mind of a mass shooter, one who suffers from “my own illusion of persecution,” who “cannot forgive these trespasses” against him, who is “nothing without this power to kill my fellow man.”
“Images Of Tragedy,” with its rapidly changing tempos, criticizes our isolated existences (“We all live in our own reality/Multiple universes existing as one”) that lead us to ignorance, fear, and hatred. “You force opinions down your own throat,” Worth snarls, “You choke on the meaning.”
And the blistering “The Final Epoch” is a damning condemnation of modern life, brilliantly divided into categories: overpopulation (“the mindless breed,” “the mindless seed,” “the mindless need”), the straining of natural resources and the effects of global warming (“the mindless feed”), the widening divide between rich and poor (“the mindless greed”), perhaps the current administration (“the mindless lead”), and ultimately, complete annihilation – “the mindless freed.” Genius.
Like any début, it could use a bit more polish, even though Worth has railed against overproduced death metal. Its low-fi mix masks the bass lines and drumming a bit, and I’d like to hear the gutturals more clearly since the words are so good. But Worth and Guenther are off to a great start with an album that reflects our world in deservedly uncomfortable ways.
You can pick up ACTS OF SWINE‘s “Sadistically Speaking” at Bandcamp [HERE] currently as an NYP (Name Your Price) item.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.