Reviewing an act like THE_NETWORK proves difficult because the artist’s intent is equally as important as the product itself. “This Is Your Pig’s Portrait” succeeds on one hand and fails on the other. The band has a clear concept of musical direction and style but focuses on vocal differentiation rather than synthesis.
In terms of music THE_NETWORK play in a fluid but frenzied and chaotic stream of consciousness. The music constantly shifts and evolves in ways that the average listener will not have the patience to endure, but the synchronicity of the musicians provides a path through the avalanche for those willing to tread on dangerous ground. “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Faith In Lust” top the album off with varied time signatures, discordance, and drum work that dominates the offerings of others in the Hardcore genre.
Another key element in THE_NETWORK’s compositions is the presence of four distinct vocalists. “This Is Your Pig’s Portrait” kicks off with background noises, a repetitive but decent bass line, and amp feedback. The shrill of drummer Nate Johnson’s voice introduces a chant that repeats four times, each time adding a different vocal style to the mix and concluding with the song title “We Are The Network.” Chants appear throughout the album enticing listeners to “stand up” and “sing it with us” before “last call,” but these performance antics have obvious connotations for eliciting the social-political conscience of listeners. “Innocent Vs. State” contains a breakdown in which some clean vocals take center-stage, but other than the sheer volume of vocal styles presented on the release listeners will not find anything new in terms of subject matter or technique. “Pig’s Portrait” contains the best alternation between guttural lows and shrills and the most basic and consistent riffs on the album. “00_00_56” serves as an interesting instrumental composition (drum machine and all) but leaves listeners wondering why the artists don’t do more in this vain.
“This Is Your Pig’s Portrait” succeeds in delivering an overwhelming aural assault on its listeners. The focus on vocal techniques, however, ruins the impact of the complex and winding instrumentation and prevents the release from becoming an outstanding Metal accomplishment. The assault of each track is like a mugging or rape – short in span but mentally exhausting. In time, however, the listener will pull themselves back together, focus on other things, and move on.
(Online April 2, 2007)