If you discount the 2013 EP “Mass & Volume” which was released as a fundraiser for a member of the Relapse Records team who had passed away and was written and recorded during the final day of the “Phantom Limb” recording sessions things have been very quiet for the band with the last album being “Book Burner” in 2012, an album that sadly passed me by back then and didn’t get much repeated plays despite it being a decent slab of grind from the pioneering grinders.
Scurrying forward and it is fairly safe to say that you could potentially divide Pig Destroyers fan base into a couple of camps those residing in the roots when the band savaged crowds with albums such as “Prowler In The Yard” and “Terrifyer” and those that preferred the riffier material courtesy of an album like “Phantom Limb” and later. Whichever you prefer Pig Destroyer has been at the forefront of the grind scene for two decades and even though they have been absent for five or six years this sixth album rectifies that with an album that will satisfy the grinders and riff mongers alike. The rather inane intro piece that starts serves to warn you of the impending onslaught you are about to subject yourself to as “The Tunnel Under The Tracks” acts as an intro before “Dark Train” explodes in typical PD style with a chaotic detonation of blasting ferocity underpinned by the assailing torrent of riffs which is over before you know it.
“Army Of Cops” has a cool groove riff and it is that angle of approach, the riffier side that is blended into the grinding bedlam that will satisfy both sets of fans alike, as the track is monstrously heavy courtesy of the formidable production, recorded by Scott Hull. Maintaining a groove element “Circle Element” has an aura of death metal about it as the riffing stabs in with the vocals having a scathing tone but mixing up their pitch according to the style of the riff which on this track sees it shift almost into a stoner vibe.
“Terminal Itch” returns the album to grinding mayhem coupled to thundering double kick salvo as this track is sandwiched between the slower riffy tunes and “Concrete Beast” that follows. The songs drum fill domination is balanced by some bass run barrelling and fine catchy riffs that whilst not grind per se are certainly dense and contrast with the frenetic “Mt Skull”, a true grinding maelstrom with maniacal insanity. “Trap Door” has a cool riff, the tempo is super catchy and is followed by the slower “The Last Song”, which isn’t the last song and returns to the slower stoner like guise I’ve hinted at. The pace picks up with the drums adopting a death metal approach as the riffs teem down into the track in torrents leaving only the closing mammoth track of seven minutes “House Of Snakes” to completely screw around with your head.
The fade in of the closer is sort of unexpectedly expected, a sort of progressive track awash with an aura of experimentation something the band has never shied away from. The bass is colossal on this track, underpinning the foundation of the song, the drums fill every nook and cranny of the song with the riffs fleshing out the rest. The song constantly changes with fluxing tempo shifts but as you listen to it you feel like it is gradually intensifying and becoming ever more manic, schizoid especially with the guitar work.
I’m sure this album will divide opinions like their previous releases but Pig Destroyer has never been one to follow what they think their fans want, instead they write challenging music to challenge their listeners and in that they have satisfied the criteria for any grind fan and gone beyond, the only thing you need to decide is whether you like it or not.
(8/10 Martin Harris)