Review: Saltpig ‘Saltpig’

When I saw a band called Saltpig appear in The Shaman’s available promos pool, I stopped in my tracks, I mean what a fucking gnarly name right?

The two-man, international band comprised of former Annihilator drummer Fabio Alessandri and multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Mitch Davis, who has evidently worked with a diverse group of artists including everyone from Mark Lanegan (RIP) to L.A. Guns, to U2 (!!) to Billy Squire of all people.

Saltpig 'Saltpig' Artwork
Saltpig ‘Saltpig’ Artwork

The two somehow came together with the intention of doing a stoner/psych/occult record, and I’m here to confirm these two guys have done just that. Their self-titled debut, Saltpig, released, not surprisingly, on Heavy Psych Sounds is a full-on, occult-tinged, blown-out garage-doom bash-fest.

Opener, Satan’s War, is a rolling, crashing, fuzzed-up riffer with Davis’ vocals channeling the anguished howls of early ‘70s Ozzy and Bobby Liebling. Alessandri, meanwhile, shows he’s just as capable doing the Bill Ward, behind the beat, bash-and-crash, as he is the thrash metal tempos and techniques of Annihilator.

The first single and video Demon answers the question of what Queens of the Stone Age might sound like playing blown-out, garage doom in 1971. This track is as distorted, and fucked up sounding, as it is impossibly catchy, and both Davis and Alessandri absolutely own it and go off on their respective instruments throughout. I can see why this was chosen as a single, and the world’s first, ahem, taste of Saltpig. Speaking of blown-out garage doom, Burning Water is just that, a complete and total rumbling, fuzzed-out, distorted heavy garage rocker, likely one of the best I’ll encounter all year.

a full-on, occult-tinged, blown-out garage-doom bash-fest…

When You Were Dead brings the tempo down, and proffers a greasy, low and slow, head nodder, in which the listener can practically feel the low end in their chest, and these guys don’t even have a bass player. The penultimate Burn The Witch, along with the aforementioned Demon, are both positioned to be the two ‘hits’ on the record, as despite the gargled, guttural grunts of ‘Burn The Witch’ throughout, the song is impossibly catchy, well-crafted, and pretty fucking fun.

And just like that, we reach the end of Saltpig, however, lest the listener thinks they’re getting off the hook with a fun garage-doom album, the nineteen-plus minute 1950 will crush all your hopes and dreams as this is a hypnotic, distorted, pounding, unsettling, fuzz-and-effects-drenched mind fuck of the highest order. Recalling everything from The Stooges We Will Fall to Monster Magnet’s TAB to Ecstatic Vision’s Comedown, to literally anything by Salem’s Pot, but more distorted and blown-out than perhaps all of them combined. As well, I can almost detect an undercurrent of late ‘90s noise-rock under the crushing, repetitive riffs and layers of filth, but perhaps that’s just where Saltpig has left my senses.

Saltpig was recorded to analog tape and the record sounds like it. Despite modern recording techniques capturing a ‘vintage’ sound, there is no substitute for the original, especially if the musician’s desired outcome is to be as heavy, greasy, and distorted as possible. Speaking of ‘greasy’, I suppose it’s a fitting description of much of the sound on the album as the band’s name conjures up so many weird-ass pig thoughts and images. Apparently a ‘salt pig’ is a kitchen utensil meant to keep salt from clumping in humid kitchens. Certainly, Davis and Alessandri found something much cooler to do with that name.

Saltpig is a killer debut album, as heavy, grimy, rock and roll, and fucked up sounding, in a good way, as anything I’ve heard recently, and while it probably won’t make my year-end list, it certainly deserves consideration in the top stoner, psych and garage debuts of the year. Cool artwork too.

Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams