Raymond Watts is one of the protagonists of 80’s and 90’s industrial music ascension, albeit often underrated when compared to other names of the scene. One of the founders of KMFDM and a collaborator of Coil, Einsturzende Neubauten, Foetus, Watts has an astonishing solo carrier too.
His unique fusion of orchestral music, metal, rock, electronic music, industrial, blues, pop, and whatever came to his mind, gave us many incredible tales of nihilism, sardonic sarcasm, self-destruction, decay, with a very distinctive English character in lyrics and delivery.
After a long hiatus he has returned with The Gospel in 2016, sporting a mature sound and a new focus on themes of society and religion as a mean of control. Now a family man close to sixty, the artist is informed by his love for classic rock, gospel, blues, but he doesn’t forfeit his past and elements of industrial and electronic music, as shown in the follow-up album Risen.
Now after many Eps, singles, remix and cover albums, Pig returns with the third studio album in this second artistic life of his, the 14-track work Pain Is God. Here he further develops his idiosyncratic style by employing the different aspects and genres he has recently touched.
If the title track is an electro-rock affair with female choruses, mean riffs and glitchy synth sounds, Cursed recalls his 90’s sound thanks to walls of guitars and crawling, sleazy vocal deliveries. Rock n Roll Refugee fuses the usual electronic undertones with Pig’s love for old-school rock sounds.
Mobocracy (Militant Mix) starts is a marching industrial-metal affair with coarse vocals and charismatic thrashing guitars upon which chanting refrains are layered. The track surprises us with beautiful arches and orchestral elements too.
Bedland is a mixture of jazzy sounds with a strong 70’s vibe and subtle elements of cutting guitar work, and The Wages Of Sin starts with cinematic industrial sounds, then it deliveries an apocalyptic metal track with dark innuendos and fantastic choruses full of melancholic melody.
Seed Of Evil (PIG mix) introduces the second half of the album with throbbing synths and sleazy vocals from PIG, here a cyberpunk crooner among modern dance elements reworked as something subtler and elegant. Deliverance is a touching ballad in the tradition of tracks like Save Me from Wrecked, a bitter-sweet and moody contemporary electro-pop song with orchestral sounds and refrains full of passion.
Hell To Pay In The USA (Piss & Vinegar Mix) is a classic PIG track with glitchy synths, strong guitar riffs, fast-paced attacks and drum sounds, epic electronics, and Drugged Dangerous & Damned is another love letter to 90’s PIG sound not far away from the industrial rock of that time (think of Broken-era NIN with a sleazier but controlled attitude).
Kickin’ Ass is a new version/cover of the classic KMFDM track (of which, Raymond is an author), a funky moments with fat bass sounds and a full repertoire of modus operandi taken from the Wax Trax! Sound of the 80’s. Confession (The Sacrificial Mix) is a return to orchestral epicness and crunchy electronics supported by hard guitar sounds and some well placed solos.
Sex & Death (Evil Edit) is an enthralling track with a soulful core endorsed by dystopian synth sounds and a theatrical delivery from Watts, ready to explode into harsh riffs while eerie choruses guide us amidst piano notes and futuristic keys. Suffer No More ends the album with a softer approach linked to classic rock refrains and the usual orchestrations mixed with electronic sounds.
Pain Is God is an another strong chapter in PIG’s career, an album which sounds unmistakably like of an album of his, but at the same time offers some interesting new takes and twists. True to himself, Watts adapts some keystone elements of his 80’s and 90’s albums to his current persona and keeps the new ones and the themes explored in his previous two albums. While the use of different genres is nothing new to him, in his older age he seems more at ease while perusing freely classic rock sounds and intimate vibes, even if he always somewhat twists them. An album which grows with every new listen ad as many facets to show. Recommended.
Release date: November 20th, 2020.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo