There’s this phenomenon that seems to happen when a band goes a while without any releases.
At least for me anyway.
I find myself almost forgetting to pay attention to certain bands to see if there’s anything in the pipeline and, if I’m being honest, this happened with Pig Destroyer.
And who can blame me? I mean, it’s been six years since my introduction to these guys, ‘Book Burner’, came out.
At the time I was impressed, but a run through the rest of the discography quickly put ‘Book Burner’ into perspective for me; ‘tis a fine album but sure ’tis no ‘Prowler in the Yard’ (don’t @ me).
So when I heard ‘Head Cage’ was starting to crown with its delivery happening this month, I knew a re-listen to all the older stuff was in order and it’s a good thing I did take a stroll down memory lane.
Because only by comparing with the older material do you instantly hear the immediate difference from it.
Ace Of Bass
Shortly after ‘Book Burner’, Pig Destroyer were joined by John Jarvis on the bass guitar (their first ever bassist since starting in 1997 I’ll have you know) and the difference is immediately apparent.
From the first song it’s obvious that ‘Head Cage’ has a much beefier sound to its predecessors.
Previous releases have always reveled in that harsh, straight-from-a-cassette tone but each and every song here has this warm, nut-rattling lower end. It just makes the whole record sound just that much more professionally polished.
It wouldn’t be ol’ Piggy-D without a sample filled intro track but it’s immediately followed by ‘Dark Train’, a prime Grind cut with it’s frantic riff and terrifying BPMs.
‘Army of Cops’ has a much groovier flow to it but ‘Circle River’ was the first song I was a bit unsure of – at first, anyway.
With Pig Destroyer I’m usually accustomed to having my face shoved in the meat grinder. This track just disappointingly leaves me with some light bruising as it flirts with a more metalcore style than what I’d expect from these lads.
We get some duet action with Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Kat Katz on ‘Terminal Itch’, showcasing her lower register growls on top of trademark manic riffs. But it’s on ‘Concrete Beast’ that we get a much better fleshed out one-two vocal combo with Katz utilizing her full vocal capabilities to mesh with Hayes’ own quite nicely.
Tried And Tested
The whole back half of this album sees the guys sticking to the tried and true grindcore formula (even if the ironically named penultimate track ‘The Last Song’ flexes some bizarre electronic sounds) but out of the whole 33 minutes this album runs for, 7 of those are dedicated to the meister-work magnum opus that is the final track ‘House of Snakes’.
An epic length, by grind standards, showcasing everything Pig Destroyer are capable of. And they’ve used that time to cycle through enough different ideas and styles to finish the album and on an absolute high.
Overall, I’m conflicted between calling this Pig Destroyer’s best work or settling for labelling ‘Head Cage’ a nominee for my own personal album of the year.
The sound is richer and yet every bit as brutal, they’ve remained true to the grindcore genre with their dizzying guitar work and drums like an Octopus on speed, while still colouring outside the lines here and there.
It’s not beyond impossible I’ll feel different about this album once the dust settles but I bloody doubt it.
4/5 – Doc Morgan ::: 07/09/18