Jan 11, 2013

I’ve been waiting five years for a new Pig Destroyer album. The band’s last release, Phantom Limb, came out in 2007, and is in my top five all-time favorite albums. It would be tough for this Maryland/Virginia four-piece to top that glorious slab of excruciating grindcore. The nineteen songs on Book Burner arrive in thirty-two minutes, being reminiscent of older albums in their catalog like 2004’s Terrifyer in so far as the bursts and brevity of the tracks. Guest vocals are prevalent on the album, which is unusual for the band. Vocalists include Kat Katz and Richard Johnson from Agoraphobic Nosebleed (Pig Destroyer guitarist Scott Hull’s other band), and Jason Netherton of Misery Index (Pig Destroyer drummer Adam Jarvis’s other band). Upon first listen, these guest vocalists seem to upend the sound of J. R. Hayes’s rough screaming, but after more listens, it’s good to hear some different vocalists trying to hold their own with Pig Destroyer’s aggressive sound and not just doing so but complementing it. One of the things that made Phantom Limb so great was the grooves of the songs. They were long enough (more than two minutes is a rarity in grindcore) to build the song into a groove, work it through, and then end the tune, all while still pummeling the listeners’ ears. That’s not the case on Book Burner. Like Terrifyer, these songs are primarily blistering, fast, and to the point. The ones that shine (“Baltimore Strangler,” “The Bug,” “The Diplomat,” “Permanent Funeral”) are the ones that extend past the three-minute point. The rest of the songs are still good, but seem insignificant in light of the material that has depth. The lyrics also don’t seem as intelligent (no, I’m not kidding—see “Gravedancer” or “Alexandria” on past albums for examples of J. R. Hayes lyrical capabilities), either. They’re blunt, like the music, and seem to be drawing more from the Kerry King style of lyricism than the Henry Rollins school, which is a disappointment, as I had always considered vocalist and lyricist J. R. Hayes to be amongst the better lyricists in the hard music genre. Let’s face it—it’s hard to top an all-time favorite album, so despite these reservations, Book Burner is still far above almost anything else you’ll hear in the grindcore scene this year and a good place for the unitiatied to learn about Pig Destroyer.

 –kurt (Relapse)

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