“Hostage Animal”

By El Chief

The Massachusetts hardcore band All Pigs Must Die return with their third album, "Hostage Animal." It's intense, and maybe a little too intense. My first listen happened about the same time as the Las Vegas concert shooting. I had to put the album on a shelf for a bit because every second of what's a really good album made me think about what it was like to be out there on the festival floor that night. Even now, weeks later, it makes me wonder what place heavy metal has in a world where bloodshed is an everyday occurrence.

Before I lose you, let's come to a quick understanding. Metal has always been about violence. Read any review or band bio. We writers can't help but overuse every aggressive adjective in the dictionary. But it's not the music and the savage imagery that brings about real-world carnage. Instead, metal is a reaction to a violent world. Picture it: Satan could've been stoking the first power chord as Cain was in mid-downswing on Abel. In fact, an influential 2015 study suggests that listening to heavy metal doesn't cause homicidal tendencies. 

What those researchers concluded is that heavy metal helps people process anger in a more sociably acceptable manner. Look, I'm not saying the gunman wouldn't have done what he did if he listened to Meshuggah instead of Merle Haggard (it was his brother who said the gunman liked country music). I would never want to be that cavalier, besides, my hunch is that a sociopath is going to follow his or her nature no matter what plays on the turntable. But, even in a world that's grown way too cold, we metal heads can queue up a band like All Pigs Must Die and work through the minor struggles like horrible bosses and bitter relationships. It's better that we're able to work it out in the comfort of our rooms, or the cramped quarters of a mosh pit, than to leave guilt, fear and hostility bottled up.