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Count me among the few Aaron Randall apologists. I really dug his scatterbrained, manic performance on Annihilator's Set the World on Fire, and through that I find myself holding the eternally-obscure Powertrip Pigs. Speeed is an offshoot of a collaboration that originally included alumni from The Bronx Casket Co., Overkill, and Annihilator. Certainly exalted company, but Speeed finds itself feeding off the wounds of the tepid scene it was released into as opposed to existing as a throwback permutation of the acts these musicians originally called home. Powertrip Pigs is what happens when you take The Killing Kind-era Overkill, remove the vitriolic, pissed off vocals and inject a sizable grunge influence. Kinda cool, but not consistent.
As such, it should come as expected news that Randall disappoints me here. His primary delivery is significantly harsher than it was in '93, and he has lost much of his youthful timbre in the few years since Set the World on Fire. He still has a pleasant singing voice, but it is far too underutilized here. The only real throwback to his Annihilator tenure is the half-ballad "I Used to Believe," and even that flies off the rails right when you start thinking it might become the second coming of "Phoenix Rising." Frustrating, but not a complete loss. Frost is decent enough here though, with Speeed giving him an avenue to exercise the bluesy, chunky riffing style he has more or less put his personal stamp on as of late. I still prefer his output on The Bronx Casket Co. to this, but he certainly avoids becoming a liability. Grunge influences introduce a lot more dissonance than one would expect here, but for the late '90s, Powertrip Pigs passes muster as far as the riffs are concerned.
Where we really begin running into problems is regarding tonal inconsistency. One minute Randall is wailing like a banshee just like we remember him, the next there are keyboards (for some reason?) that remind me of the soundtrack to an Atari game. Despite not living up to their name from a literal perspective, Speeed honestly don't know when to stop at times. They are at their best when they stop trying too hard and just let a rocking groove carry the beat without too many frills. "Chrystal Meth" is a good example of this, and is a fun ode to stimulant abuse with some decent vocal melodies laid over top a crunchy riff set. "Dragon" is the most complete song here, and almost thrashes, but not quite. There are a lot of sound clips, which can become irritating on the whole. The interjection of the famous line from Dawn of the Dead on "Zombies" is fun, but otherwise it just comes off as a distraction. Overall, Powertrip Pigs is rather inconsistent and digressive, but it does have some cool moments.
One of these cool moments is undoubtedly the cover of the all-time classic "Ride Like the Wind." Speeed transposes it in a very safe manner, but it is hard to sully such a great song anyway. I am also quite partial to "Sin," which oozes just enough attitude to hang with the thrash acts Speeed wishes it was. So, is Powertrip Pigs worth anybody's time? Why yes it is, but not for the reasons I expected it would be. Don't come here expecting Set the World on Fire part two, but fans of Frost's riffs will find a sizable bit to chew on. The production values aren't that great, but it certainly hints at the direction Annihilator could have taken had Randall stuck around. Good luck finding a copy, though.