Pig Destroyer

Book Burner

Written by: MGA on 22/12/2012 10:21:23

"Dangerously angry one minute, rockin' and rollin' the next". It's a strange sample for Pig Destroyer to start off their first record in five years, mostly because Pig Destroyer is constantly angry; it's not a minute-to-minute thing. And while their 2007 LP "Phantom Limb" did bring some of the thrashy riffs, in no way did it supplant, displace, or overtake the toxic frustration that is the core of their sound.

On "Book Burner", the Virginia grind band's fifth album, Pig Destroyer essentially -- and perhaps unexpectedly -- shelves the thrash tinged grind in favor of the absolute punishing version of grind they haven't doled out since 2004. That 2004 album, "Terrifyer", was the band at its most harsh, making a revisiting of that feeling eight years later something of a risk.

For the most part, the risk was worth it. While "Phantom Limb" was indeed a great album, it was grindcore for people that don't like grindcore. "Book Burner" is grindcore for people that like grindcore. Immediately after the aforementioned sample ends come the first shrieks from vocalist JR Hayes over a blast beat, and so begins a 19 track seminar in aural pain.

That's not to say the riffs aren't there, however. Even Pig Destroyer at their grindiest -- "Prowler in the Yard" and "Terrifyer" -- had legitimately captivating riffs, something of an anomaly for the genre. Scott Hull's trademark technicality is still in full force. Halfway through the sub-50 second "The American's Head" comes a riff so fluid and satisfying and obvious that it makes one wonder why no one else has written it before. It's a musical eureka moment, if grindcore is allowed to have those. And then with eight seconds left the warm feelings end as a the riff stops on a dime, has the song's slate wiped clean with a pick slide, and then finishes the track off with pummeling blasts.

That's not to say the album isn't without its flaws. "The Diplomat", despite also containing one of the best riffs to ever find its twisted self in a Pig Destroyer song, is marred by unfocused filler halfway through, before recovering in its final minute with a great riff to complement the first.

Additionally, one can't help but miss former drummer Brian Harvey. It's become somewhat of a cliche to point at the drummer as the backbone of the band, and that might be a little bit hyperbolic even here, but Brian certainly came close. His unique drumming was very human. His frantic blasts and sputtering fills gave Pig Destroyer tracks a sense of urgency, as if the song would fall apart soon if they didn't hurry it up and finish it. New drummer Adam Jarvis performs admirably on this album, particularly his double bass work that closes out the final 25 seconds on "Burning Palm", but his mechanial, polished style isn't as suitable for Pig Destroyer as it is for his other band, Misery Index.

"Book Burner" is Pig Destroyer's worst album. It is also very, very good, and it's a great addition to the band's discography. It may not keep up with the frenetic pace of their earlier work, but it also doesn't take the (physically) easy way out by alienating itself further from grind and slowing down. "Phantom Limb" was the record people that don't like Pig Destroyer or grind could get into. "Book Burner" isn't. And that's a good thing.


Download: The American's Head, The Bug, Eve, Iron Drunk
For The Fans Of: Insect Warfare, Nasum, Wormrot, Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 22.10.2012
Relapse Records

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