Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pig Destroyer - Book Burner

Music, for me, is all about searching out some kind of authentic experience. I have no patience for cheap imitations. Guys like Nick Cave and Tom Waits can hide behind all the theatrics and artifice they want, but the truth of their music is always staring you in the face. PJ Harvey hits every bit as hard on Dry as she does on White Chalk or Let England Shake, it's just a question of where she chooses to punch you. Nothing makes me feel joy the way The Meters or a live James Brown performance do. Suffocating dread and menace? Unsane. Unwavering strength in the face of adversity? It's got to be Black Flag or Converge.

But if you want the purest form of utter nihilism and viciousness, you go to Pig Destroyer.

There's no Devil worship or Satanic masses in Pig Destroyer's world or any of the other typical iconography associated with the genre. You get the sense reading their lyrics that Satan is as big a joke as everything else and his name would only be invoked in order to piss off the squares. There's no costumes here. If you want a glimpse into the worldview that gives P.D. their engine, vocalist and lyricist J.R. Hayes' short story included in the deluxe edition of Book Burner is the place to start. Dedicated to Christopher Hitchens, "The Atheist" is more of a rough sketch than an actual story but it's a perfect example of where these guys are coming from. One man, smart, educated and alone, in a survivalist paradise running from a theocracy gone insane. It's everyone's biggest fears about the direction of our country put in plain language and shoved right under your nose; a Ted Kaczynski manifesto as fiction.

Five years on from their last album, Phantom Limb, the Pig Destroyer sound has gotten fuller, more lush. They've retained the fury and velocity of a 747 spiraling to the ground but the addition of noise man Blake Harrison and the experience of guitarist/producer Scott Hull has given the music an extra dimension. Seth Putnam's joke that "grindcore is very terrifying" no longer seems very funny. This is harrowing stuff.

There's a lot of other good grindcore bands working today but the intelligence and unpredictability of Pig Destroyer is what puts them at the top of the heap. No one else in metal can match the compact yet detailed crime scene photos that are J.R. Hayes' lyrics. There's no political agenda and no right answer. We're all fucked. We're going to die scared, alone and covered in our own blood. And when you listen to him tell you, you believe it.

Songs like "The Diplomat" and "The Boston Strangler" are lengthy for a P.D. song and give them time to stretch a bit and explore while other songs like "Eve" or "Burning Palm" run roughshod in under two minutes. Track by track descriptions sort of miss the point. Grindcore is abrupt and crushing by nature. You're getting nineteen tracks that clock in at just under 32 minutes. The band has clearly broken drummers in the past but Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis acquits himself nicely in his first album with the band

Not much else needs to be said. Along with Saint Vitus, High On Fire and the new Converge, this is one of the best metal albums of the year. All veteran bands at the peak of their powers. Miss this record at your own peril.

If you pick up the album, be sure to get the deluxe edition. Not only does it include "The Athiest" but also a bonus EP of classic punk covers called Blind, Deaf And Bleeding. It includes covers of the mighty Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Negative Approach, Minor Threat and a really killer version of Angry Samoans "Light's Out."

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