Matt Whitehead: Vocals and Guitars
Kevin White: Drums
Andrew Schneider: Bass, Additional Vocals, & Extras
Produced by Andrew Schneider and Matt Whitehead.
Recorded and mixed by Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn, NY.
Additional engineering by Andrw Gerhan and Matt Whitehead in Brooklyn and
Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East in Cambridge, MA.
Artwork by Christopher Ashley.
Pig Charmer was written and recorded from the spring of 2007 to the spring
of 2009 at various times and places on and off I-95 between Brooklyn, NY and
Throttlerod release an aggressive stoner rock feel to the airwaves that travel without no obstruction all the way from Richmond Virginia.
Pig Charmer is on the verge of Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Quicksand and Soundgarden to release a pure and uninterrupted energy of sound that becomes a breakdown of aggression, hate and pain.
Pig Charmer is a 12 track collection of solid stoner rock that energises any lazy bastard as it rips into 'Clean', 'Hum' and 'Serenade' to finish with the epilogue of 'Where's Josh?', 'Dink' and 'Majors' as the influence of Quicksand and Soundgarden come into force.
An exciting CD to rock to with its chugging guitars sound and deep base. Brilliant
- Tony Watson
In 2009 THROTTLEROD celebrated their 10th anniversary and since its formation the band has undergone an unexpected development. Whereas their first two albums 'Eastbound and Down' and 'Hell and High Water' were firmly rooted in southern blues and rock 'n' roll, THROTTLEROD's third album 'Nail' marked a significant change. Instead of spreading a whiskey-soaked awareness of life as on the previous recordings, 'Nail' was surprisingly aggressive and noisy. The band saved the raw energy of the early days, but their new sound has more in common with noise rock than with groovy rock 'n' roll. 'Pig Charmer', released in 2009 by Small Stone Records, is possibly THROTTLEROD's most interesting album, because it's more varied than the previous ones. This is an album that is composed and carefully played. The techniques and themes at work are still reminiscent of 'Nailed', drill press riffs, building, holding and releasing tension. Rather, it is the way these elements are arranged that make the difference.
The slide guitar in 'Beggar's Blanket' evoke memories of 'Eastbound and Down', while 'Jigsaw' is unexpectedly melancholic even though the song is interspersed with a couple of brutally delivered riffs. 'Buffalo' again displays that the band can still groove like hell without losing its wrathful undertones. Yes, 'Pig Charmer' is definitely an angry and vigorous album, that doesn't allow yourself some time for relaxation. If you like the full-on frontal assault of 'Nail', than you'll enthused by the relentless riff-a-thon of this album, even if some of the here included songs have a more melodic approach. Andrew Schneider's monstrous bass sound works through each track like a chainsaw and of course he also recorded, produced and mixed the album in co-operation with vocalist/ guitarist Matt Whitehead, the group’s sole original member. The result is overwhelming and it can happen that you feel punch-drunk from the heaviness and loudness of 'Pig Charmer'. In conjunction with complex rhythm structures and the powerful voice of M. Whitehead, this album is an intense listening experience. It's not for everyone, and it's not for every mood either, but I like this album a lot. This record is perfect for any ill tempered day in your life.
Man, Throttlerod or Cable this year? I don’t think I’ve listened to any two records quite as much as I’ve jammed The Failed Convict or Pig Charmer. Both of these records are sticking in my head big time, and both of them were just in the rotation the other day. Sigh, it will be tough to make a year end list. Although, because I have a hard time writing down on a piece of paper (ok, writing on an internet page) which were my concrete favorites for the year, I guess I will remain “off the hook” for making the decision!
Whatever the case maybe be, let’s get back on point for this review. Matt Whitehead and the Throttlerod crew (now a literal revolving door of band members, with the bass slot being filled by longtime producer and mentor Andrew Schneider...although Schneider being from New York must make practice and touring a hellish experience), have been on my radar since I grabbed up Eastbound and Down out of the Gametwo distribution back in late high school, if I’m remembering the time period correctly. It’s been a few years and a few beers since then, so my memory can’t always be counted on for exact dates! Anyways, from that solid debut, I’ve seen them bring the classic rock n’ roll thunder with their landmark Hell and High Water, the acoustic tinged sweetness of Starve the Dead, culminating with the full circle transformation to noise-rock’s deadliest, loaded weapon on Nail.
There hasn’t been a misstep along the way, and with Pig Charmer, I’m proud to say Thorttlerod has not only tied the top spot for my favorite album of the year, but also produced their strongest slab to date. I’m all about the Am-Rep, but out of the entirety of bands I’ve reviewed pushing that sound, this is THE band and THE record that the label would sign if Hazelmeyer and co. were still putting out new releases. Whitehead’s thunderous guitar tones are on total display here, nailing some great rock n’ roll riff magic, cold, calculated dissonance and a heightened sense of melodic awareness. Nail was a truly superb piece of work, but it has got nothing on the heightened dynamics and sense of awareness coursing through Pig Charmer’s labyrinth of veins. Schneider proves as the band’s longtime producer, he knows their sound inside and out, ripping out some of the fattest, richest bass grooves in all the land. His instrument literally sounds gargantuan, and even when Whitehead’s guitar gets downright beautiful on moments of “Hum” and “Jigsaw”, Schneider has his back with a layer of Mississippi mud so formidable, that I can’t even believe my ears, adding an attack element to even the band’s gentlest moments. Kevin White is also in top-notch form here, with a truly aggressive and nuanced kit attack, adding color when the mood expands and straight-up kicking ass when the volumes sound as if they will melt your speakers straight into butter.
Buzzing with amp crackles, and relentless feedback, “Clean” introduces us to the latest transformation in the Throttlerod life cycle. Verses are punctuated with the kind of noisy, wraparound riffs that Sardy and Barkmarket perfected years ago, with even the kind of uplifting chorus that was a common denominator on that band’s Gimmick masterpiece. Still, there is a unique, southern flavor present here and Whitehead’s voice, while paying homage to Sardy in some respects, is still Whitehead’s voice, and his gruffer, thicker cadence will fit like a hand in a glove for those who thought Sardy’s proto-howl was a bit too much for their tastes. Yes, I know I’m mentioning a lot of Barkmarket here, but in my book that’s a good thing, and no matter what I’m saying…don’t take it as this is a copycat record. It isn’t, the influence is present and Throttlerod builds an individual house out of it!
“Hum” is more aggressive than its predecessor, and takes a little bit of Throttlerod past n’ present to weld all of its elements together. It has some killer, pissed off shouting vocals and a helluva a lot of noisy guitar interjections, but beneath the hood is an impenetrable foundation of rock solid staccato grooves, slick as snot rhythms and chorus that is frighteningly catchy…and not just straightforward catchy because it is catchy, but because the hooky vocal lines are delivered amongst a swirling wall of bluesy, noise-rock destruction. If the world had any sort of brain in its head, this would be all over the rock radio stations right now, but the problem still lies that this music is just too unpredictable, unconventional and unsafe for the mass public, even when you’ve got an astonishing set of hooks present such as “Hum” does.
That same aesthetic burns through every fiber of “Serenade”, although it is the verses that ring with melody in the vocal lines while the rhythms breathe instead of gasp, with the guitar following suite. It is in the chorus where the distortion rises to a caterwaul, eventually leading the band to bleed out their approach into a series of lingering, melodic guitar chords and thudding bass presence, all the while White rides out the stringed instruments with an invigorating, emotional performance full of quick little fills and colorful beat keeping. There’s a point where the distortion rings back in, and everything turns into this uplifting, blue clouded sky, as the singing embraces sheer beauty, before the ass-whipping riff assault of the track’s climax sends us off right proper. Fuck, three songs into this record on my first listen, I honestly didn’t know how it could keep up such a high bar all throughout, but now that I’m about thirty good spins down the road, I have only been reaffirmed that Throttlerod is one of the best band’s to play noise-rock or just plain rock n’ roll for that matter in all of history for my dollar.
Stopping n’ starting on a dime, “Beggar’s Blanket” is the equivalent of Unsane covering Throttlerod’s epic southern jam, “Honest Joe” off of Hell and High Water. Each verse ratchets up the tension, with clean, beautiful crooning lightly pulsating over a bed of slightly twisted, southern style noise-rock riffing. Each verse’s calm is shattered by the undeniable smash of broken bottles and broken riffs, bridging in the empty space, until the uplifting vocal laments and skyward, Barkmarket by way of Cavity with a stop in Sabbath land riffing of the chorus fills your soul with unconfirmed hope. Easily this chorus is one of the strongest in the entire Throttlerod canon, standing toe to toe with the barnburners found on Hell and High Water! I can’t shake the power of this song, if I tried…it was one of those song’s that was so in line with what my ears have been in the mood for, I swear that the gang wrote it just for me (damn, I feel that about he ENTIRE album). Thanks guys, haha!
Southern swagger and punk attitude permeate the Tad-like discordance of “Baton Rouge”, a mess of loose and jangly rhythms cutting through the haze of green smoke lingering in the band’s practice space. Anyone that thinks the band’s straight up southern rock days are dead and gone, better listen to some of these tracks more than a few times, as the chorus of “Baton Rouge” has a triumphant, 70’s boogie blaring loud and clear, although the dirty muck and nasty playfulness of team Schneider/White always makes the Am-Rep roster, waltz plainly into view!
Things get even more offbeat on “Jigsaw”, with an extended opening of pretty guitar chords, dreamy rhythms and Whitehead sounding absolutely delicate in his singing. Heaviness is not far behind, as the riffs kick up in volume considerably as the track goes along, especially during a brief instrumental bit, but here we find Throttlerod confronting full-on their indie side, by touching on Quicksand, Hum or even Fugazi, then taking a Hammerhead sized hammer and smashing those bands to little tiny bits.
For anyone complaining that this album doesn’t have a track the equivalent as the catchiest material on Hell and High Water (such as “Marigold”, “In the Flood”, “Snake into Angel”, etc.), I propose you take an ear at “Buffalo”. The verse riffing, and rhythmic churn is of the classy, rock n’ roll demeanor of the Hell and High Water material, but more damaged and abrasive, with the chorus riding a dazzling southern riff straight into the ground. Easily Whitehead’s catchiest and most traditional rock n’ roll chorus since the material on the several times mentioned classic album, but everything is done up meaner and with a snarling grin…just the way I like it. A brief, staccato groove echoes of a Page Hamilton fronted Unsane or even Today is the Day, and then they bite down on that killer chorus once again. Man, every single chorus on this album is something special, because it’s all about how the songs snake around and wind their way to a catchy chorus through all of the noise and skin peeling acidity. “Rider” also mimics the thought of a classic Throttlerod, wading their way through the corpses of Am-Rep’s fallen heroes. This time they change things up like they tend to do, with a busy d & b shuffle creating movement underneath the harmonic riffs; it’s like Quicksand grew up listening to 70’s rock. The chorus pulls the reverse and brings down an anvil of furious riffs and yelling vocals, and later in the track Schneider works some absolute magic with his low-end, nailing a fluid groove around the 1:40 mark, that’s nimble and quick on the fret board and anyone who loves the low-end thickness of a band like this, will stand up and take immediate notice. Then what about the obtuse southern, jazz that closes the track after a brief moment of silence? Total madness is what I say, but it works swimmingly within the unpredictable structure of the songwriting.
The same unholy matrimony between ugly noise, sludge and flattening rock n’ roll pops up on the grandiose grooves of “The Sweetness”, “Where’s Josh”, “Dink” and “Majors”, all which are a bit similar to one another, but totally different in the way that the guitar lines blend into the rhythms, and the way choruses unfold and are delivered in general. “Dink” being my favorite of the final four with its ADD infected verses, that features manically spoken vocals and the finest in Chris Spencer crafted noise-rock, riff fuckery. When the towering riff of the chorus kicks in, you can almost feel the blood n’ teeth as they slide down the back of your throat, and any song with lyrics that read, “Hey there, can you show me, how to give in and say the right things,” well I’m going to be eating that up. It’s the perfect chorus for the arrangement the band nail all throughout “Dink”. Although don’t think because, I singled out “Dink” that any of the final four tracks aren’t up to snuff. Hell, the stoner/noise/grunge riffs that rumble throughout “Where’s Josh” are the perfect shake-up for the cleanly, crooned chorus and “The Sweetness” and “Majors” hit some of the biggest blues/noise riffs on the entire album, and help to show that while Throttlerod may evolve, they’ll never lose their southern swagger!
Man, for those of you who haven’t fallen asleep yet during the course of this review…just know that this record is a monster. Seriously, if Am-Rep still existed they’d put out this record ten times over. I’m sure Man’s Ruin would chomp at the bit to get in on the action too, not taking anything away from Smallstone though, as they have been the perfect home for this class act. All I know is that Pig Charmer is my favorite Throttlerod record to date. It edges out everything that has come before, both expanding and reinventing their sound to date. So, this or Cable…I’m not man enough to make that decision, but I listen to both albums almost everyday, as they are the very best noise-rock/rock/grunge/doom whatever releases this year will see. Congrats guys, this is another cherry atop a hugely productive career…can’t wait to see how you’re going to top this one!!!
- Jay Snyder
I really like the last record from the Richmond band THROTTLEROD called NAIL. It is a great album, heavy and slow as I like it! With great vocals and an immense power, which remind me a little on the mighty SUNNSHINE, one of my favorite band! Matt Whitehead is the last original member of the band, but you will not feel that in the music. And it sounds not like the stupid technical computer sound Metal albums. Producer Andrew Schneider (who played the bass guitar on that record too!), who did excellent work so far for bands like the mighty MILLIGRAM, Roadsaw or Cave In, gave that record a warm and heavy sound! That is a real recording with real musicians! And PIG CHARMER is their best record so far. It is complete on a high standard and is the simple next step of NAIL. Maybe only a little more adult. If you do not know the mighty SUNNSHINE, maybe you will hear some old HELMET or JESUS LIZARD in that band. It is full of noisy stuff! The opening track CLEAN with the great heavy guitars is a good introduction for fans of early Tool, Soundgarden or the above mentioned Jesus Lizard! What a power! Or the heaviest song called HUM, a masterpiece. Or the feedback-drenched DINK – Throttlerod wasn`t better any time before! Furious noise-laden riffs, solid and simple drumming and that Helmet like vocals. It sounds very fresh! PIG CHARMER is full of power and aggression! Buy that good record!
Throttlerod is a terrible tribe of junkyard rock stars and have been for about 10 years now, spitting out a Dixieland mix of punk/stoner metal that just seems to get nastier with each release. Pig Charmer finds Throttlerod at perhaps their meanest and leanest (three members now, including super-producer Andrew Schneider on bass) and the Appalachian rawk on songs like “Hum” and “The Sweetness” explode with the same aggressive tendencies and bullhead bravado of bands like Milligram and Scissorfight, respectively. I mean, these guys have been swimming in the same swamps as Alabama Thunderpussy – both geographically and musically – for a long time now, and always seem to bring the biggest broken bottle to the knife fight.
OK, if you ever hear me say again that Small Stone Records deal exclusively in stoner rock, you have the right to rap my knuckles with a big bunch of rusty Allen keys until you can see the bones through the shredded flesh. However, if I say again that they deal exclusively in good records with flashes of genuine greatness, I will be speaking the truth – and here’s your point in case, in the form of Pig Charmer by Throttlerod.
Now, I was foxed by the album title, which I took to be a reference to the Jerry Cantrell song of the same name… and perhaps it is. But as a result I sat down to listen to Throttlerod expecting some slow Southern grunge, and while there are some elements of the stoner sound in Pig Charmer, they’re not the dominant aesthetic. Not by a long chalk.
No; it’s waaaay better than that. In fact, it’s a work of brilliance – and yeah, I know I’ve already accused one album of brilliance in the last week, but that was before I heard this one, and it’s not something I do often. Within the two lead-heavy minutes of opening track “Clean” you’ll hear elements of some of the best bands of the past couple of decades: Fugazi, early Tool, Soundgarden, Jesus Lizard… and (most clearly) Helmet. They also remind me of a UK band (now defunct, I expect) called Cortizone, and fans of These Arms Are Snakes will recognise the flavour of intensity here, regardless of the differing pallet of tones and rhythms. But in a nutshell, Throttlerod sound like a young and hungry version of Helmet raised on a diet of early post-hardcore – and I mean that to be about as strong a compliment as I can conjure.
So, what do you get? You get rock-solid drumming in jagged patterns and odd time signatures, monolithic gut-puncher hardcore riffs from a bass and guitar which might well have been welded together, and lyrics delivered with the kind of sneering raw-throated fury and disgust at humanity (not to mention existence in general) that only Page Hamilton and Maynard Keenan have ever managed to articulate effectively before now. I just can’t overstate the power and aggression of Pig Charmer; it’s as if Throttlerod made a checklist of the things I look for in a band and ticked every. Single. One.
Indeed, I feel sure there used to be dozens of bands that sounded just like this in the late nineties, but now I try to think about it I can’t seem to actually remember any. Perhaps it’s a form of wishful thinking, yours truly projecting some aggregate fantasy of the ideal album into a void where no such thing ever existed… but that’s all so much speculative bullshit, frankly. Let’s get back to the facts: Throttlerod will come to your house and whip your brainmeat with industrial-sized monkey wrenches, and you will thank them for it effusively for the rest of your life. Buy Pig Charmer immediately. I am not kidding.
- The Editor
When a band has been kicking around as long as Richmond Virginia band Throttlerod they usually have two choices. They either call it a day or sink into the abyss of re-writing the same album over and over again in order not to upset the fan base. There is a third option, which is to re-invent yourself with every album and constantly push your band as musicians and artists. Few follow the third choice, which makes a band like Throttlerod that much more of an ass-kicking venture. The band’s newest studio offering “Pig Charmer” is a huge rock record, a weird indie album and a swirling noise jam being played on ten in an abandoned elevator shaft.
With Pig Charmer Throttlerod is essentially saying “We don’t care what you or the genre want, we’re here for the f**king music!!” The band kicks the album off with “Clean” a song that moves from noisy and chaotic to huge and riff oriented without ever sounding forced. Throttlerod seem to be able to play fast and loose with the rules of song writing and get away with it clean. Take a song like “Serenade” that sounds like something Killing Joke would play until it stops cold into a mellow spacey tune that invokes thoughts of Sonic Youth. Those two things shouldn’t work together but Throttlerod not only makes them work but makes them rock. No matter what they do this band can’t write a song that doesn’t rock your face off even with all the weird experimentation going on.
Two of my favorite songs on Pig Charmer stand at opposite ends of the musical spectrum as far as sound goes. “Baton Rouge” feels like Motorhead and Blind-era COC while “Buffalo” comes across with a furious Helmet meets Unsane vibe. With all of these varied sounds and influences the songs manage to always remain Throttlerod songs. No matter what their writing or playing the band puts their signature on it and make sure it always sounds like them. Pig Charmer is a personal statement from a band coming into their own not a batch of songs thrown together just to prove the can play.
The center of this storm is songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Matt Whitehead who holds the reigns of Throttlerod with great ease. Whitehead is a songwriter with an obviously large palette to draw upon. No matter what kind of fevered dream is happening inside his brain when he funnels it through his hands Whitehead is focused on creating Throttlerod music only. Take a song like “The Sweetness” which comes across like four different tunes crammed into one jam.
In the hands of a lesser songwriter “The Sweetness” would be a mess but Whitehead manages to bend and force it into a cohesive tune that stands out even against an album this complex. I also dig his voice which sounds like a grizzled old rock singer that only stops chain smoking in order to gargle with broken glass.
Producer Andrew Schneider (who also plays bass for Throttlerod) does a brave thing by allowing the production to be as natural and live as the songs themselves. Sometimes you can hear the amps crackle and fuzz out as they reach higher and higher volumes, even the vocals over-bias but all of it works, it all adds to the epic voyage that is Pig Charmer. With so many bands letting me down and so much music out there sinking deep into the bog of mediocrity an album like Pig Charmer and a band like Throttlerod are more than a breath of fresh air they are a revelation.
- Iann Robinson
Richmond, VA-founded Throttlerod have faced quite a bit of change and challenges throughout their decade-long career, including the not uncommon musician turnover, tour-induced dementia, and your basic indie existence starvation, of course, but what about moving to -- gulp! -- Brooklyn, NY, where all bands trendy and vapid seem to be dwelling circa 2009? The answer to this loaded question arrived via the trio's fourth full album, Pig Charmer, which emerged through longtime label Small Stone in 2009, and counted with the help of familiar producer Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Roadsaw, the Blue Man Group!), who had also helmed the studio for Throttlerod's prior outing, 2006's Nail. And, much to their fans' relief, Pig Charmer retained most of the group's core allegiance to thundering hard rock with Southern accents (see the hot, bluesy licks driving "Hum," "Baton Rouge," and "The Sweetness"), whittled down just slightly to reflect their new, more claustrophobic urban surroundings by way of a slew of dense, often disconcerting tunes curiously reminiscent of sludgy '90s grunge. Take the swirling feedback introducing misleadingly named two-minute opener "Clean," for example, which, before being rudely interrupted mid-scream, led the way to dirge-y riff vehicles like the haunting "Serenade," the grinding "Jigsaw," the Tad-esque "Where's Josh," and the Soundgarden-in-a-swamp of "Beggar's Blanket." Throttlerod's compositional quality control does slip a little during the album's second half, but Pig Charmer still challenges for the championship belt of the band's career, while leaving no doubt whatsoever about which is their darkest and most uncompromising effort yet. That's right, this one.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Throttlerod has always been a sidestep away from its stoner rock brethren. Artier, more angular, often heavier, even more often just plain meaner, the trio doesn’t pound itself into a hash-piped bliss, but thrashes itself into angel dust fury on its latest spew Pig Charmer. Beggar’s Blanket, Hum and Where’s Josh? crush skulls from twenty paces, like everybody in sight owes the band money. There’s a strong postpunk vibe to Jigsaw, as if Jawbox lent the ‘rodders a few records before the tape rolled. Oddly, the band occasionally veers toward radio-friendly alternative metal – Buffalo has a distinct Nickelback whiff held at bay only by the dissonant bridge. But most of this record is as ugly as a full-grown bulldog - Down and Alabama Thunderpussy are better touchstones than anybody in the Kyuss family tree. In Throttlerod’s universe, it’s better to roar and rage than smoke and screw.
- Michael Toland
Wow… I didn’t really see this coming. I thought I had a handle on these guys, guess I wasn’t dialed in. It’s a good one, but shit, I musta been standing in a puddle of duh over here. Well, only knee deep. Maybe head down though. Previously, I took these guys to be a rough-cut kick-ass suvvern vs. biker-punk unit; like Zeke’s suckerpunch mid-tempo setting running through Blackfoot and Nashville Pussy tunes. Herein I find’m to be beholden to the rubbery overdrive David Sardy pushed through his own unit, Barkmarket, and various ‘90s production work with Quicksand, Orange 9 MM, and Cop Shoot Cop. Bump that into cool stuff like Fugazi, The Method, Below The Sound, and The Evil Queens and ya got the stuff Throttlerod grease down with those "Southernish" roots.
I went back and listened up and their "this" and "that" really isn’t that far apart. Seeing as I haven’t heard the middle record, this may be kinda obvious, but both ends can be traced back to the Stooges wild-ass overdriven carve-up of John Lee Hooker’s malevolent ‘50s stomp and holler. So on Pig Charmer, they keep the tuneful grit of Hell And High Water’s Southern-punk fuel; and blow it through the mile-wide Sardy throb while waddling around in boxers with one leg labeled "Touch and Go"* and the other "Amphetamine Reptile." (Two great labels with bands that’ve bent many a mind and twisted many a stage when Obama was in law school. I didn’t see him at any shows.)
Look, there’s no bullshit here. The songs are trim and powerful and have enough clear no-bullshit live as fuck off-kilter slant to catch your ear and get many a head doing that drugged head bang sway you see at Melvins’ shows. My pick to click: "Hum." It’s got melodic vocal and riff hooks piled into an anthemic tune that should do for these guys what Helmet’s "Unsung" did for them. Load’m with the stuff mentioned above, rounded out with Hackman, Unsane, 50 Tons of Black Terror, The Beasts of Bourbon, and Killdozer.
- Craig Regala
Sounds like a douchebag thing to say, I know, but whoever pissed off Richmond, VA/Brooklyn, NY’s Throttlerod, I’m really glad they did it. Their first two albums, 2000’s Eastbound and Down and 2003’s Hell and High Water get high praise because of their southern attitude and triple-hops rock, but with 2006’s Nail and now even more with their new full-length, Pig Charmer (Small Stone), they move into furious noise-laden riffs and a melodic catharsis that would make Unsane blush.
Bassist/producer Andrew Schneider, who joined before Nail, might have something to do with it. The Brooklyn contingent in the trio, his presence has lent new intensity and though their songwriting has managed to maintain its structure, Throttlerod sound like a band working out a heavy emotional release, with the vocals of guitarist Matt Whitehead alternating between a capable croon and abrasive shouts, all while Schneider gets the best of his six-string tone and of Kevin White’s drumming as he’s done for the likes of Cave In, Puny Human, Hackman and many, many more. Even the heaviest of the tracks, early cut “Hum” or the later, feedback-drenched “Dink,” keep their heads melodically and Pig Charmer is all the better for it. Without sounding overly commercial or falling into formulaic clean/harsh singing tradeoffs, Throttlerod offer ballsy sonic diversity in a skin-peeling context full of passion and densely pressed onto plastic.
- H.P. Taskmaster
All of you waiting Throttlerod to write Hell and High Water II: Hotter Hell, Higher Water please form a line to the left. There you will be given copies of Shame Club's Come On, The Brought Low's Right On Time, and A Thousand Knives of Fire's The Last Train to Scornsville, along with a six pack of beer. Between those three albums, you should have enough classic American rock to keep you satisfied for the short term. And if not, drown your sorrows.
For those who rolled with the stylistic punch that was Nail, the multi-state band (guitarist/vocalist Matt Whitehead and drummer Kevin White reside in Virginia, and new-ish bassist/producer Andrew Schneider is in New York) has returned with its sequel. And like all good follow-ups, Pig Charmer ups the ante by being, well, bigger. The band took all of Nails' strengths and jacked them up. It's more jittery, jagged, ornery, and mean.
As a whole, the band's now more aligned with Unsane than anyone else. Tracks like “Serenade” (the best of the lot, indisputably), “Baton Rouge,” “Dink,” and “Majors” lay down a thick, rolling rhythm, with the guitar either marching lock-step along or adding a layer of jarring, dissonant riffage. It's an ugly wall of sound, almost impenetrable at times, which is pretty much the point when you're playing this sort of music. If you want prettiness, go somewhere else (or go revisit the band's under appreciated Starve the Dead EP). This is about enforced viciousness.
Does that make it good? If you liked Nail - and count me in that crowd - Pig Charmer's gonna scratch your itch. Maybe even draw blood. Sure, I could've done without a couple of tracks (notably opener "Clean" and the quasi-balladry of "Jigsaw;" both make plenty of noise but ultimately don't go anywhere) and I certainly miss the band's “all out rock” as much as that morose group of people over there to the left, but all the same, there's too much going on in Pig Charmer to deny it.
- John Pegoraro