In 1968, a quartet of dudes from the Woodstock, Ontario area got together to form and heavy rock, heavy psychedelic band. The chose the name Warpig, got a record deal in 1969, and by the spring of 1970 released their first and only record. The album is an excellent example of the spirit of the times as the band were by this time fully into the heavy rock sound and had all but left behind the psychedelic aspects. Loud distorted guitars, a Hammond organ (in the background often), a good pounding rhythm section, and vocals that, when necessary, could soar into the range of David Byron.
There are many bands around this time who were part of the burgeoning first generation of heavy metal scene. Some bands only experimented with the sound a little and included it in the form of a song or two on their one or two releases. Other bands came out fully charged and rocking for their debuts. And a third type enjoyed exploring both the heavy side and the progressive side of the new music scene. Warpig cut six tracks of heavy rockers and two that explored musical possibilities a bit more deeply and in length. “Flaggit”, “Tough Nuts”, and “Melody with Balls” offer three distinct takes on the heavy rock approach: “Flaggit” sounding like an inspiration for the first Wolfmother album; “Tough Nuts” the home of a great guitar riff; and “Melody with Balls” crossing “Communication Breakdown” speed with a psychedelic noisescape middle section.
“Advance Am” or “Advance in A minor” is the band’s take on a long instrumental that gives the keys more room up front. For a debut, it’s a decent honest effort, though it sounds like they hadn’t really grown into the lengthy progressive approach yet. Keith Emerson had nothing to worry about, that’s for sure.
Side two opens with a controversial rocker, “Rock Star”. You can find plenty of web sites and YouTube videos about this one. It sounds an awful lot like Deep Purple’s “Fireball” though it was released nearly a year earlier and around the same time as “Deep Purple In Rock”. Many say Deep Purple blatantly ripped off this song. On the other hand, others will point out that the instrumental part in the middle sounds very much like parts of “Flight of the Rat” from “In Rock”. Who borrowed from whom? I’ve also read comparisons to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath but I am not hearing those similarities. On “Rock Star” the crossover with Deep Purple, however that goes, is very clear.
Side two has two more excellent first generation metal tracks in “Sunflight” and “The Moth” both of which include some great heavy guitar. “U.X.I.B.” is side two’s longer composition, this time a song and not an instrumental but with a little more musical complexity than the three other tracks.
According to the liner notes, the band’s label was later bought out and they ended up without a label. A second album was recorded but they couldn’t get anyone to release it and soon they disbanded. This is a shame as I can see this band could have contributed more toward the early years of heavy metal. As it is, this album is a fine addition to any collection of proto-metal from between 1969 and 1973, the years which I personally consider the period of the first generation of heavy metal.