All Pigs Must Die was originally released in 2001, and after some years out of print, it’s now been re-released. It’s undoubtedly the strangest work in Death In June’s oeuvre, and its reissue is likely to polarise fans all over again. The subject matter largely concerns a dispute between DIJ mainman Douglas P and some former business partners in the now defunct World Serpent Distribution company. The album is reissued simultaneously on CD and picture disc LP, and it makes sense to consider this as an LP, because this is very much a record of two distinct halves (conceptually similar to Neu! 2 or Low). On side one we have six songs – bright and breezy with acoustic guitar, accordion, trumpet etc; and then on side two we have radical remixes/deconstructions of the material on side one.
‘All Pigs Must Die’ sets the tone with an upbeat sound – but the light nature of the music is undercut by the venomous lyrics, directed against the Pigs of the title. Characterising people as “pigs” immediately refers us back to the Beatles’ song ‘Piggies’ (on The White Album). And that in turn refers us back to Charles Manson, and the infamous Tate/LaBianca murders in 1969, when “Death to Pigs” was just one of the slogans daubed in blood at one of the murder scenes.
‘Tick Tock’ begins with a short spoken word preamble from Boyd Rice, before we launch into a waltz-time acoustic song, which tells us there are “three piggies standing in the dock”. (After major dissatisfaction with the way World Serpent was run, Douglas P filed a claim against the company in 2000.) ‘We Said Destroy II’ opens with guitar feedback, another short speech from Boyd Rice, and then a short burst of distorted speech – a harbinger of the aural violence to come on side two. In ‘Flies Have Their House’ the singer declares a “pox upon Blackheath” (the area of London where WSD was based) before demanding “Piggie Piggie pay me.”
Over on side two ‘With Bad Blood’ is a gruesome remix of ‘Tick Tock’ with Pearce’s voice pitch-shifted into a demonic range, and the music hurled into a deep well of reverb and distortion. ‘No Pig Day’ recycles some text from ‘Flies Have Their House’ – only this time the words are sung to the slowed-down verse melody of the Beatles’ ‘Blue Jay Way’ (from Magical Mystery Tour), with the vocals again pitch-shifted and the music morphing into beatless industrial noise. Why ‘Blue Jay Way’? You’ll recall the opening lines of that song: “There’s a fog upon LA/And our friends have lost their way”. Although that song was written in 1967, it’s hard not to read it as prophetic of the dark side of the 60s that would culminate with Manson and Altamont. And again, referencing this second Beatles song, Douglas P seems to be calling down that darkness and violence upon his enemies.
‘Lord of the Sties’ reworks ‘Disappear in Every Way’, with the heavily processed voice intoning: “From the olympic city we will cast our runic charms” – the vocalist casting magickal spells upon his adversaries. Indeed it’s tempting to view this entire album as a kind of multimedia hypersigil, in the manner of Grant Morrison’s Invisibles. Does this kind of stuff work? Well, Pearce filed his court claim in 2000. Death In June released this album in 2001. The claim was settled out of court in 2002, and saw Pearce regaining control of his master tapes and receiving previously unpaid royalties. What do you think?