“I finally feel like we’ve made a record we can all be proud of.”

These are the words of Dave Rowlands, vocalist for the Bury based filthy four piece PIST, a band who I have spoken about on the pages of this website before, in both a studio setting and a live setting and both times, I have praised them highly. I could just cut to the chase and wrap this review up now by sharing my conclusion on the band’s second full length release, but where would be the fun in that? The sludgy grooves from Lancashire which at times were also described as ‘stoner-doom’, a tag which seemed to initially fit the band on their earlier work isn’t really the right way to describe the sound present on this new record. Much like Orange Goblin announce that they play ‘Rock and Fuckin’ Roll Baby!’, PIST are in a similar vein, described as one thing but playing many. With more of the band’s personal preferences in music seeping into this release, along with a guest appearance from Elephant Tree and a nod to Manchester metal scene legend Eytan (Rest In Peace) with its title, this promises to be a cracking release!

“Ex-Nihilo” opens the album with a sleazy series of riffs, going with that filthy groove the band are known for but as soon as you hit the 40 second mark on the track, the whole thing comes alive in spectacular fashion. Raw vocals with some powerful and explosive rhythm work backing them up charge through with a fury you would expect from the Scandinavian Black’N’Roll/DeathRoll monsters Entombed or from the supercharged sludge outfit Superjoint Ritual. The sound is spot on and I’m already excited to hear this live!

“Wreck” has a similar feel to it. Again, blending elements of the familiar sound PIST offered on their debut, “Rhythm & Booze” with more darker sounds. Leaning on the blackened spectrum once again, the angular and piercing guitar stabs with ferocious vocal screams litter the majority of the track and then the haunting breakdown with the atmospheric chord work which leads into a dirty bass section is spot on. “Mind Rotter” is a big fuck you to society and all the shit which comes with it. A warm and atmospheric clean intro suddenly gives way to a phenomenal groove laden section which kicks the album up a gear with regards to the confidence and presence PIST usually bring to their live shows. Rhythmically tight, it goes from headbanging pulses to flat out mental, borderline black metal territory with buzzing guitars and harsh screams. This is going to be an explosive live track and I cannot wait to hear it in that setting!

“Fools Give Chase” is slightly closer to the stoner-doom type tag PIST have commonly been associated with. From its Orange Goblin vibes in the intro to the sweet sounding guitar solo which has a fantastic tone and delivery to it, all interwoven with more explosive paced sections which have a hint of chaos to their heavy delivery, it has a solid groove laden core which holds tight throughout. “If I Was You” is a straight up chaotic beast of a track which is loaded with raw vocal screams and some excellently delivered blasting drum spots whilst retaining that pounding headbanging rhythm and this is mirrored in the final track, “Skin Your God” which is again, another high energy and wild spot which serves as a fitting finale to the release. The real gem of the album though is “Strangle The Sun” which features members of Elephant Tree. Hypnotic and with a highly expressive and expansive melodic atmosphere, it is near enough a total departure from the rest of the record in how it feels. The softer vocals help add to the semi-psychedelic vibe and the warm and fuzzy bassline compliments it well. Just as you feel like you’re in for a gentle ride, it kicks in with real power. Walls of chords and the familiar vocal growls come in and the way the softer vocals and the harsh growls combine to form a dual layered effect is fantastic. Picking up pace, it turns into a full-blown groove monster which for once, you can accurately describe as stoner-doom (sorry lads!) before a final chorus of clean vocals and grinding riffs draws it to a close.

In all, “Hailz” is a solid release. If it were up to me, I would have closed the album with “Strangle The Sun”, but other than that, I can’t complain about this release at all. It sounds fantastic, the production is spot on and the way PIST have managed to blend what they like in music with what they could do well already, and in effect, create a real solid end product is a testament to the guys. You have every right to be proud of this one lads!

(9/10 Fraggle)