Since hearing ‘Beg, Borrow, Steal’ and ‘Smoking Bones’ on a couple of Metal Hammer samplers a few years ago, I’ve been a big fan of British sludge/stoner trio XII Boar. Those two EPs those songs came from arrived in plastic envelopes on CDs, with the track listing written on in permanent marker and home-printed album artwork. Pitworthy, on the other hand, is available as a deluxe digipak, to show how far the band have come. It’s clear that XII Boar’s star is on the rise, and you’d better grab the boar by the tusks or risk getting trampled on.
Pitworthy truly lives up to its name. It’s a beer-soaked blast of bluesy, sludgey, stoner metal songs that are, ultimately, pitworthy. Straight out the (beer) barrel, an announcement to a baying audience on opener ‘Sharpshooter’ shows listeners that the band are proud of the record they’ve dropped. And rightly so: ‘Sharpshooter’ knocks you dead as easily as its namesake, with bass-driven, groove-laden riffs aplenty setting the tone for the rest of the album. The bass is quite prominent in XII Boar’s music, even taking centre stage as a source of riffs in a few songs, most notably on ‘Battle Boar’, and ‘Rock City’. On other songs like ‘Chicken Hawk’, it drives Tommy Hardrocks’ screaming, Anselmo-esque vocals and punchy guitar forward in a way that is guaranteed to get pits opening wherever The Boars play live.
Talking of Anselmo, one of the oft-repeated descriptions of XII Boar is that they sound like a mix between Motörhead, Down, and Crowbar. There’s some merit in this comparison. If you were to take NOLA-era Down, sprinkle them with just a little cheese, and throw in the kind of bombastic rock ‘n’ roll of ‘80s Motörhead, you might have something that sounds like XII Boar. But the Boars are much more than the sum of their influences.
As mentioned above, Pitworthy is a long-awaited début album, but it’s a seriously strong one for the wait. This is partially because XII Boar is a trio with obvious chemistry; this was already present on the two EPs, but is even clearer here. The best example of this is ‘Rock City’, which I’ve singled out not because of the colourful, neon-soaked video that accompanies it, but because of the exchanges between the guitar and the drums throughout. From the intro riff through to the cowbell moment nearly three minutes in, the track is great fun, and demonstrates a lot of skill and practice, which simply would not work without the trio’s chemistry to glue it together.
If I have one criticism of the album, it’s that all the songs blend into one at times. Taken individually, they’re all great, but listening to the album as a whole, it all gets a tad repetitive. ‘Crawdaddy Blues’ is a fantastic interlude of the kind of country blues that Seasick Steve might have grown up on, and helps alleviate the repetitiveness, but only so far. But I’m willing to forgive it here because it is, after all, their first full-length, and there are plenty of bands who have kinks to iron out on their débuts. This is, arguably, what the sophomore album is for, and I for one look forward to it greatly.
Overall, Pitworthy is a fantastic effort from a band that’s only just beginning their assault on the world of metal. I couldn’t be happier that XII Boar have finally put out an LP and, given how strong this first one is, I cannot wait to hear more from The Boar.