SUBTRUCK - Pig Iron, X-Press, April 2006

Taking a different approach to their studio output, Subtruck decided to abandon the one-at-a-time plan of attack with Pig Iron, and tracked the bulk of the music live. With only minor overdubbing - vocals mainly - the results are quite impressive, as they show a different side to the band than can be found on their previous releases. Less close and in your face, Pig Iron has lots of breathing room and a natural ambience and reverb courtesy of the big town hall the band jammed in. The songs are mostly typical Subtruck which, right down to the one-word song titles, is an exercise in getting straight to the point. There's a vast deviation from the crunching heaviness fans know and love, with the rather tender Bough, which highlights some of the more subtle skills of the band. Phil Bradley's vocals in particular get a bit more of a flex on the gentler number, breaking away from his usual stunted style that accents syllables on the beat. This song is the odd man out though, and the remainder of the tracks are Subtruck breaking bones like they always do, with the first two tracks (Detroit / Joking) featuring that definitive Subtruck pummel. The guitars noticeably take a back seat on Pig Iron, melding more into the bottom end mix of bass and kick drum, adding to the live effect. It's different, but a welcome difference nonetheless. Disc two features a live recording of the band, playing old songs and new, and is remarkably well recorded for a low budget pub recording. The new songs are definitely the highlight of this album, but with both discs bundled together, Subtruck have given fans more bang for their buck.

MIKE WAFER