If age is wisdom, than Pig Destroyer are the owls of the grindcore kingdom.
These Virginians have been blasting their way through violent noise for more than two decades, and while they’ve written and produced stand-out albums over their tenure (2001’s Prowler in the Yard is a prime example), their output over the last decade is unrivaled in calculated beat-downs. Phantom Limb, Book Burner, and now Head Cage deliver their ultra-aggressive grind with a sense of refined musicality that emboldens their barrage of sound.
Named after a medieval torture device, Head Cage keeps hold of listeners with vice grips over the course of 12 tracks and 31 minutes. There’s no doubt that this is true grind, yet Pig Destroyer evoke sonic mutilation through crushing, well-formed song structures and even a little melody. The album opening “The Tunnel Under the Tracks” provides fair warning for the sounds about to be unleashed, beginning with elegant big band swing, then delving quickly into dissonance and spoken word recalling the iconic “Jennifer.” “Army of Cops” rides a swift riff amid industrialized percussion and the haunting, blue-badged warning, “Why don’t you get on your knees.” “Concrete Beast” boasts burly guitars and guest vocals from Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Kat Katz who adds shrill screeches to a blistering, discordant groove. The album-closing “House of Snakes,” clocking in at just over seven minutes, chugs woozily through verse after verse, interspersed with segways usually reserved for doom royalty. When the volume dissipates at the album’s closing, one thing is clear: Head Cage is a harrowing glimpse at modern reality bottled up like a molotav cocktail that only Pig Destroyer can hurl with accuracy.
Pig Destroyer, at heart, or the same ferocious collective that they’ve always been. That said, Head Cage consistently uncovers their ability to package their aggression in unique, cohesive ways that would have others of their ilk dissipating into sonic cesspools. These are the wise men of grindcore, leading their minions from this painful world of contradictions, casualties, and humanitarian crises to the ever-elusive promised land.
Head Cage is out September 7 on Relapse Records. Buy it here!