When asked about the most prominent Canadian rock bands of the 70s, most fans would name bands such as Rush, Frank Marino's Mahogany Rush or perhaps The Guess Who. However, despite the numerous artists that got lost in the tidal wave of the 1970s rock scene, Ontario's Warpig is sincerely a lost Canadian gem that needs to be unearthed to all hard-rock enthusiasts. With a cross between rock, metal, psychedelia and even classical music, Warpig had a very distinctive sound, exposing influences from bands such as Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, Uriah Heep and, undoubtably, Deep Purple.
Formed in small-town Woodstock in 1968, just outside of Toronto, vocalist and lead guitarist Rick Donmoyer, keyboard player/vocalist Dana Snitch, bassist Terry Brett, and drummer Terry Hook were no strangers to to the unrelenting Toronto bar scene when they first began rehearsals in Hook's basement. Each member had been paying their dues with other local bands, trying to break into the industry. With their uniquely crafted sound of metal riff-guitar progressions, complimented by heavy use of the organ, Warpig undeniably caught the attention of fans throughout Ontario and were quickly signed to Fonthill Records. After releasing their debut album in the spring of 1970, their success continued when the singles “Rockstar” and “Flaggit” were picked up by a number of Canadian radio stations. Possibly the two most marketable songs on their self titled album, both 'songs' epitomized the evolutionary sound that we now know as heavy metal.
Fonthill Records were taken over by London in 1971, which compromised the advancement of the band at the time. After focusing on the live scene for the next year while also attempting to write their second album, the band eventually hit a wall. London did finallyre-issue and remaster their debut album, yet with a lack of proper management (along with their second album being shelved) the band began to implode. What followed was the stereotypical story of a fallen rock band. Thankfully they were around long enough to have made a mark for Canadian metal music history, but fueled by the neglect from the record company and uncertainty for their future, Warpig had disbanded by 1973.
Regardless of the band being hurled into near obscurity for 30 years, by the early 2000s many Warpig bootlegs began to surface, arousing the interest of rock fans once again. For a band as talented as Warpig, credit needs to be given to a band that clearly had a hand in the foundation of heavy metal. In 2004, the band decided to reunite, with their only self-titled album being re-released in 2006 by Relapse Records and their associated company Kreation Records. This issue of Warpig is currently readily available and not hard to track down.
However, for serious vinyl collectors the rarity of original pressings, particularly when they are this scarce, is what keeps the desire alive! Most gratifying would be acquiring this LP on the Fonthill label, with the original cover featuring the candle and an ankh cross, followed by the early re-issue with the alternate white cover, issued by London Records. A promotional copy of the 45 rpm is also a very sought after item.
Although the entire album is consistently compelling, the track which really resonates with me is “U.X.I.B”. It has that quintessential emphatic heavy-metal rhythm with just the right amount of softer melodies to create one exceptional seven minute masterpiece.
– Paula McNulty (The Inner Sleeve)