Rich James never wanted to be “from the ashes” of anything. The metal cliche of rising from one demise to another triumph doesn’t interest him or any of the other members of Durham’s large, lumbering Hog. It’s true that three members of this four-piece played in Tooth, which for two years slayed NC clubs with a fast metal attack that threw out big, beefy riffs with razor-sharp accuracy. Hog aren’t making waves with a sudden departure from their former band’s sound. Nor are they content to garner respect on the laurels of their past. With their debut EP Archetypes, they build on what made Tooth great, while expanding their sound in powerful new directions.
“We took the chance to change,” James says, speaking to how his new outfit has updated their song structures. Tooth built thrashing tantrums from rapid-fire guitars and the brutal, enigmatic barks of front man J-Me Guptill. With Hog, the attack is re-tooled, retaining the caustic Southern-fried sludge, but expanding it into terrifying sprawls that thunder continuously like giants on an epic war march.
“We want something going on and happening all over the place, and we want our dynamics to change,” Fishel says, explaining that the group wanted to go after a dense, rich style with a style that would feel almost orchestral. “I got to sort of treat a bass as more than a bass. It became a second guitar slash rhythm guitar. It was a way to change and take on roles that we didn’t have before musically.”
The new renditions are filled with Tooth’s signature menace, but they’re stretched out with mature control, plotted out in methodical and dramatic arks. The riffs and bass lines meander into intriguing melodic fills as the drums execute time signature changes with nimble dexterity. For a while, Hog managed all this by just turning up the volume, but soon, it became apparent they needed more personnel.
“I knew it when Rich kept telling me to turn up,” Fishel jokingly recalls. “He’s like, ‘You can probably be a lot louder.’ When I became afraid my head would blow up, I knew it wouldn’t work. I didn’t have money for a new head, so I was like, ‘I guess we need to get another guitarist.”
They added Alec Ferrell on guitar and played together for about a month before entering the studio with Kylesa axe man Phillip Cope. They recorded mostly live to tape, overcoming a bout of cold that deprived Fishel of his voice, to create Archetypes. As with Kylesa, Hog’s songs meander down gloriously tangled riffs and bass lines that are as explosive as they are intricate. The sludge here doesn’t bubble up slowly from the ground, it explodes outward in continuous bursts like an erupting volcano. They manage to sustain this force, creating elongated jams that never lose their forceful grip.
Hog aren’t risen from the ashes because they never burned down what made their previous work great. Smartly, they choose to build on it, refining the tools at their disposal and creating a new style all their own. Neither forsaking nor dwelling on what made their last band great, they have built a sound that respects its heritage and harnesses it to reach even loftier heights.
- Alec Ferrell: guitar
- Ryland Fishel: bass, vocals
- Rich James: guitar, vocals
- Noah Kessler: drums