In the five or so years since BigWig last released a record, it would appear that a great deal of artists of this musical nature (haste generalizations are fun) have adopted a preening, visually attractive look to blanket their music with a more aesthetically appealing veneer. You’ve got the makeup, the flashy stage presence and all that good stuff- but let me just say, when I saw BigWig in San Francisco years ago, they were anything but an attractive presence. But hey, it’s better that way because Reclamation is the kind of go-for-the-throat outing that will leave you battered and bruised. And once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, you’re up for another round of blazing riffs, machine gun vocals, and a razor sharp edge that puts the spikes back into this punk rock affair.
BigWig haven’t always been like this- if one were to pick up UnMerry Melodies, there is indeed a hilariously awful take on the Cheerstheme, a song called “Your In Sample,” and something about an old lady. Their move to Kung Fu saw them adapt a more melodic approach to songwriting and they gave us the bittersweet tune “Smile” and the ska-fused “1-800-Whipped.” They’ve tried it all and while it was nice to see them reach out, Reclamation is proof that when they stick to something consistent, the results are downright impressive. Tracks like the venomous “Cross and Burn,” the opening “A War Inside,” and “Follow the Leader” show that BigWig can write some of the fastest, most brutally honest, socially and politically conscious music around.
The album’s finest quality is that the aggression never once subsides. There are no intermissions, and no pretty in-between parts- it’s all good, all the time. The intensity is none more evident in the nicely titled “Hold On Fucker,” where vocalist Tom Petta screams in angry disbelief: “You don’t deserve to know why / Forced to push on ’til the day that you die / My respect tied to the tracks, train’s on my back / These ropes are too tight / And those headlights look like home.”
If like many, you yearn for the days when aggressive music came with fistfuls of substance and little to no fluff, then take comfort in the notion that there are many bands out there like BigWig who are still screaming with a whole lot of meaning.