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Prowler in the Yard is a masterpiece, and Terrifyer was almost as great. Some people would say that’s all you need to hear from them, but there is still something to be said of this album. It is not so easily discarded in my book. I bought this album when it came out, and it was, a bit odd at first. The songs are a considerably longer than previous works and their production has gone up considerably. Those problems aren't too apparent though, the songs don't feel so long and the production is acceptable to me.
The tone of the guitar has worsened in comparison of old works. It has gone from a chainsaw high end sound to a more balanced normal sound. I can get past it though. I still enjoy the riffs, and wow, are there some great riffs. What's nice about this release is that some of the riffs actually go somewhere, and they have some kind of concept behind them. And yes there are some "breakdown" riffs, but I use quotations because really, if you put pauses in anything some people will jump all over it and label it metalcore garbage or whatever. The syncopation used in these breakdowns is not meant for mallcore posers, because they wouldn't be able to understand them at all. They would just be very confused about the polyrhythmic structure
The drums are a big component of the album, and they really bring those polyrhythms to the surface with its clean production. The parts are really complex in some parts, but it sounds like he's just jamming away, not even trying. Quite a performance on his part.
And don't forget the vocals. I'm not really into studying lyrics and delivery, mostly because I play guitar and bass and never sing, but in this case I actually read the lyrics and they are disjointed poems about neighborhood girls who kill themselves and cut themselves up , which seems to go with the album. I might even have the wrong impression, but the lyrics are almost cryptic, so it's anyone’s guess.
I give this an 80 because this is definitely a solid effort on their part. To me, it means a lot that these 3 guys can make such a heavy album. One guitar, a drummer and a singer. I am always impressed by this band, and you can add this album to the list.
I love Pig Destroyer, really I do. The early splits and albums had an amazing sense of simplistic brutality and an impressive range of sound for all of the musicians involved. Prowler in the Yard is the most amazing album in almost all aspects of the word. Terrifyer tended to shy away from the experimentation that made Prowler so amazing, but it was still a solid album of deathgrind. Needless to say, I was VERY excited when I heard Phantom Limb was coming, and I (something I almost NEVER do, I download most these days) went out the first day it was on the shelves and bought myself a physical copy.
On first playing the CD, I noticed immediately that there was more sampling going on than I was used to from Pig Destroyer. The band thankfully manages to do this artfully, with fairly meaningful samples used in small doses. The samples reflect what's going on in the music or help paint an image in the reader's mind. This is a much-needed improvement from the typical sampling these days, with ever-so-many South Park and stand-up comedy references. Glad to see this band still takes itself seriously.
In most other respects, however, the album seems more juvenile than most Pig Destroyer releases. Many aspects of Pig Destroyer's music that have made them unique in past releases seem toned down or modified. The attempt seems to be making a more "conventional" album. In making an album that by its formula could pull more fans in, Pig Destroyer has driven away old fans (to an extent) by changing what made them unique.
The guitar tone, as with a lot of aspects of this album, has been changed considerably. It sounds to be a new pedal, which with a little better EQ-ing could be good for the Pig Destroyer sound. However, the lack of bass, which was typical unimportant in past releases, is excessively compensated for with an almost ridiculous amount of bass tone. The guitar is overdone in an attempt to make up for an instrument that can barely be heard in most bands, and an instrument Pig Destroyer has done just fine without. The new tone would sound a lot better with the bass turned town to about 2/3s of its current state, and there would still be plenty of low end.
The drums are relatively similar, but for reasons I can't articulate as well I wasn't as impressed. Stylistically, this album has moments where it resembles a grind-influenced metalcore album. As a result, the drummer is doing a little too much of that breakdown drumming, with the quarter note crashes and snare hits on the third beat of the measure.. the drummer seems to think he's playing for Lamb of God once in a while.. I'll pass. Call me when you get back to the technical blast beats I can't even play in my dreams.
The vocal work is similarly different on this album, lyrically and stylistically. J.R. seems to be trading in his low, rumbling shouts from Prowler and his high shrieks from Terrifyer for a new style of vocal. It is still shouted, though it seems to be layered with an almost hypnotic spoken tone. If you are familiar with the song "Gravedancer," the vocals are very similar. It's an interesting attempt, but I would have preferred to see it used with a little more discretion. Moderation is the key on these sorts of things. Hayes has an amazing range, he ought to utilize the extremes of his voice more.
Lyrical focus is shifted on Phantom Limb. Pig Destroyer started with mixed themes, from politics to pain. The focus started to shift more to the inner workings of the mysterious outsider's mind, blurring sexuality and religion with violence and agony. Phantom Limb shows more of a focus on concrete experience or events. There's an unfortunate gore song, "Deathripper," though it thankfully maintains a balance of clever lines and still keeps that "outside freak" image instead of doing some Brutal Death Metal shit. There's also the closest thing to a ballad I've ever seen, "Girl in the Slayer Jacket." The story line seems very intimate, and perhaps even gives the listener a rare glimpse into the actual life and experiences of the lyricist. The lyrical change's value comes down to personal opinion, really, and I myself did not care for it.
Don't mistake me, this is a solid album from an amazing band. Had this been a newcomer's debut, the band would look promising with some work and maturity. Maybe these guys set the bar too high with the near-perfection of Prowler in the Yard, but I expect a lot more out of Pig Destroyer than this album gave me. New fans will be impressed, old fans may feel cheated. I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend or discourage the purchase of this album, but the jury is still out in my mind, and I think it always will be.
So what we have here really is grindcore, straight and true. No, the lyrics do not constitute a subgenre; the music does. So then, what we have here really is grindcore. But wait…Isn’t grindcore supposed to be raw and angry? At least something akin to Repulsion, Napalm Death, Carcass, or possibly even the Pig Destroyer of old? Nevermind then, this isn’t grindcore, just as this is no longer Pig Destroyer. This is some shallow Hot Topic image creeping into the world of trendy, teenage angst that happens to play some, albeit generic, very fast music.
A former Pig Destroyer enthusiast, I bought Phantom Limb the very hour it appeared on store shelves, for I had awaited its release two months in advance. Hell, I even awoke early that summer day (something I never do during summer) and used some of my graduation money to buy this. Oh, was I disappointed alright.
I decided to wait to review this album until the day when it finally grew on me; but the day never came, nor will it ever. What I heard upon first listening to this cash grab is what I still hear today: three grown men trying to be grindcore, and a fourth guy getting his start as a DJ. That’s right. Pig Destroyer have taken it upon themselves to recruit a sampler who adds absolutely nothing meaningful to the music. In fact, the most anyone can hear of him is his 15 seconds of lame throughout the album…quite literally. Pig Destroyer must have lost a bet to this guy to let him in, because he serves absolutely no purpose.
Aside from some turntable guy, the music, itself, is bland enough. Everyone’s performances in Phantom Limb, though perhaps more technically proficient than on previous albums, display no shred of emotion whatsoever.
Brian Harvey has no more technique in his drumming. He used up the last of it in Terrifyer and resorted to merely hitting things very hard and fast. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like he was inspired by baboons having sex.
Scott Hull’s guitar has one of the most annoying sounds I’ve ever heard. Gone is that heavy, crunchy, mid-ranged blast of electricity as prior to this garbage. Instead, Hull has resorted to the tin metal-scraping effect of recording his guitars with absolutely no low end at all. Not only that, but he plays extremely fast with an extremely low volume, making his guitar almost completely lost in the mix. Thus, the only discernable riffs throughout the album are those which involve some sort of palm-muting, or the parts where he decides to actually slow it down a bit and give the scene kids something to hardcore dance to. So I can’t tell you if his riffs are as awesome as in previous albums, because most of the time, they’re plainly not audible enough to make a distinction, or are shrouded in Hot Topic-esque guitar.
And then J.R. Hayes is no longer a deranged vocalist. No. I think he decided to revert into his teenage years. Either that, or he was called in to record all of the vocal parts in a single day but had no inspiration and, in a flurry of panic, looked through his 8th grade year book and remembered how he was picked on by all the cool kids for being a nerd. I think the latter, for his lyrics tell that story, as does his weak, angsty vocal performance.
Hell, Phantom Limb just sucks. Sure, sometimes Pig Destroyer like to slow things down and prolong their songs to show their musicality by playing breakdowns for all the little emo/metalcore fanboys, but it just isn’t Pig Destroyer anymore. About two songs are actually pretty good, but it’s a shame that they just weren’t good enough to remember their titles or what track number they are.
I’d have to say that Pig Destroyer’s intended audience for this release were the pubescent teenagers who attend hardcore shows, resort to veganism, and support gay marriage. Sorry Pig Destroyer, but your marketing tactics don’t appeal to me. After reading this, you should know that Phantom Limb is not worth buying (and/or liking) unless you’re a collector, or the aforementioned pubescent teenager.
Pig Destroyer is yet another band that I like more in theory than in practice, at least as of late. 'Prowler In The Yard', granted, was a pretty great album; but as it stands, it's Pig Destroyer's ONLY great album and the rest of their work ranges from fairly decent to decidedly mediocre. After 2004's 'Terrifyer', an above average album crippled by utterly retarded production, the Pig (that's what cool people call them) churned out 'Phantom Limb', with the notable addition of Blake Harrison from Hatebeak (yeah) on noise and samples. This is primarily notable because there are samples on like three tracks plus an ambient outro. Not sure what all the fanfare was about, but okay.
To be honest, I can't find anything particularly wrong with 'Phantom Limb', but it totally fails to excite me also, which is amazing since the band seems to be trying to desperately hard to impress the listener. The main issue is that this doesn't seem to have nearly the subtlety of earlier Pig Destroyer work. The grinding yet melodic riffwork and tension-laced song structures are mostly gone in favor of a very straightforward approach to modern grindcore, and I think the band is worse off for it. It feels dumbed down, like the band somehow got the impression that they didn't sound 'tough enough' so they turned all the riffs into noisy tremolofests instead of the rhythmically and melodically unique ones from before and just filled any empty space with blast beats. The production is better than that on 'Terrifyer' (thank god), but it's gone bad in a different direction. There is no 'guitar tone', just noise except for the most coherent and expressive riffs, and it sounds like Hayes' voice was recorded through a cheap microphone.
It's not like this album is unlistenable; far from it. But the problem might be that it's TOO listenable in too easy a way; I can mostly ignore this while it's on which isn't a good thing for grindcore. It doesn't make me want to move along with the music, even with the bizarre, shoehorned 'breakdowns' they decided to put on this album for no reason at all. Really, they just pop up in utterly random locations, and weird groove riffs don't really fit with the abstract, introspective lyrics of Hayes (which are good as ever). Overall I just keep listening to this album and wondering what the POINT is, because everything seems to be less than the sum of its parts. How can music with so much going on sound so simple and trite?
In the end, it seems that most Pig Destroyer fans like this, so this isn't really for them. It's for people like me who don't follow the band closely but do moderately enjoy their older work. Unless you're part of the band's legion of obsessors, I don't think you'll really find a lot of enjoyment in this; it's too still and primitive for its own good. The lyrics are freely available online, so I don't see a point in buying this.
There are a lot of bands out there that soften their sound, for no seemingly acceptable reason The Big Four of Thrash are I suppose the largest example, however the list is quite the long one. 'Going Commercial 'itself is something generally identified by three things. A simpler, more easily accessible sound (often leaning towards a newer, more easily accessible genre), an increase in fan-service and a toning down, if not absolute rape-and-pillage number often done on their rougher edges. It's almost comparable to the youthful abundance of energy slowly and brutally being annihilated by that annoyingly dominating mistress known as biological aging.
Sadly, very few bands find this as a means to launch into a newer, maturer career with a veritable backyard dumpster's worth of ideas and energy to show for it. Often, these bands are so changed by their aging metamorphosis their earlier sound is lost forever, which is often a somber moment. So, with this in mind I ask you, the audience a question. Try and name the number of bands that come back with a combination of experience and energy to punt you one in the groin at one hundred and fifty miles per hour. Sadly, many bands do not manage the sort of aggressive, crushing return to form we'd all love to see. Despite the cathartic period these bands often undertake, they never reach their former glory. Thus, we gain a significant number of critics and fans alike whom grow cynical of any significant change in a band's sound, feeling that what they once respected and adored is going to be aborted and thrown into the nearest septic tank. For Pig Destroyer in particular, a lot of this concern would be quite expected. Their abrasive riffage, punk-influenced humour and general approach to music would be a terrible thing to lose to age.
It is a good thing Pig Destroyer is a little beyond the trends here. Rotten Yellow manages to surprise the listener with the inevitable barrage of noise despite the cliched intro and rather large placards entitled "Here comes the song, BEND OVER". Cemetery road enjoys the mixture of grinding riffage and J.R enjoying his vocoder with a gatling-like blast of noise that passes for a 'chorus', into a number of hammering musical passages, well-timed tempo changes carefully aligned alongside the music itself. The wonderful thing is, there's a lot more of this to come, boding well for the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the album as a whole. Deathtripper continues this approach, while Girl in The Slayer Jacket, Lesser Animal and The Machete Twins manage to sound as wild, inhumane and aggressive as their name titles suggest. Mixed in with the somewhat foreboding names remain Pig Destroyer's taste for punkish, critical humour (lyrics such as 'Got no use for psychiatry/I can talk to the voices in my head for free' or 'I tell her that she's as lovely as the vultures/as pretty as the larvae of the fly'). While they're not as young as they used to be, it's clear that JR's lyrics aren't fading anytime soon. Loathsome provides the only 'halt' to the chaos, relying on slower, groove-orientated riffage, throwing in one perfectly timed breakdown to give the listener some form of respite from the album's constants. As far as I am concerned however, the drum flurries and amazing variety of riffing available on Thought Crime Spree mark it out as the strongest track of the lot and in many ways, a summarization of the whole album.
It has all the varied and wonderful riffs one would expect from a good quality metal album of any genre, which continues throughout the entire album. Scott Hull embraces a speeding cascade of guitarwork here, which provides a great deal of the album's speed and ferocity. Brian Harvey indicates one neither needs ritalin nor a bass guitar to give your band a little low-end feeling, with what can only be described as a BlitzKreig of (what I am sure he considers is either Britney Spears, American Foreign Policy or two lawyers sexing it up) of those little skinned instruments that combine to make a 'drumkit'. The effect on the album significant, his prowess as a skins-man rounding out the bass section of the album and removing any need for a bass guitar. As for Hayes? As stated earlier, he's never needed Ritalin. While the judgmental listener may be convinced his singing is a 38 minute mix tape entitled 'angryangryangryangryangry', he's pulling off a number of emotions from that cheese-grated mass of flesh that resembles his larynx, and I cannot see a listener wanting it any other way. The use of what I presume are movie samples are both inherently hilarious (well done cliché's are well done. period) and quite enjoyable, adding a veritable hammerhead to the album that is trying to make you feel as if you're locked in an old person's home while they're debating war stories and the reasons behind entrenched racism.
This isn't 'skull crushing' or 'neck snapping' or any of that nonsense you'll hear. That is the domain of the industrial accident or the serial killer. What this is however, is both a perfectly executed transition to somewhat more DM influenced grind. Each member of Pig Destroyer continues to deliver with a strong body of work which trades their faster, harsher styling for a different sound and effect. Some will find this lacking in the intensity they demand of a Pig Destroyer album, however I found it to be as successful as their previous works. Phantom Limb culminates as a wonderful example of organised chaos and musical anxiety that will give your neighbours a headache, and the perfect causus belli for publicists to use all sorts of cute phrases such as 'rib-snapping' or 'soul-destroying'.
This is my first Pig Destroyer album (sadly). I've never really listened to grindcore other than Napalm Death and a few Cattle Decapitation songs, so I really wasn't sure what to expect from this album. I got it simply because a friend of mine mentioned listening to them and since I couldn't decide which CD to buy of some bands I already owned albums for, I decided to try a new band.
When I first stuck the CD in, I didn't know what to think really. It was definitely grind...but almost incoherent. I really wanted to like the band, so I kept listening, but overall, I wasn't too impressed. I got home finally and, for some reason, I just felt compelled to listen to this album. My ears still weren't very tuned to this sort of extreme metal, so I found it hard to decipher much of anything. Later that night, I stuck on my headphones and kept listening (I have a feeling there is some subliminal messages on the CD, because I can't explain my drive to listen to a CD which I really didn't enjoy) and I was amazed at what I heard.
When the music is so up close and right in my ears, everything seemed sort of cleared up. The first thing that impressed me was the guitar work. Oh, the guitar! It was so heavy and so technical, but with an odd quirk every now and again. It wasn't your typical chugga-chugga/technical riffing/breakdown guitar. Instead, Scott Hull (who instantly became one of my favorite guitarists) would constantly shred away and then throw in a chord from left field which was completely out of place, but still fit with the music. The immense brutality Scott Hull has on this album is stunning. Especially since he's covering for the non-existent bassist!
The drums are also great. Totally chaotic, but the drummer still manages to keep a beat throughout it all. And the vocals are amazing as well. Nothing revolutionary like I'd consider the guitar work to be, but they are good and fit perfectly.
All in all, this album is not one that you can just sit down with once and give a clear deliberation. You have to hear everything it has to offer before making judgements. I can't get enough of it now. Hell, I sleep to this music. I guess I don't know what to say. It's grindcore at it's finest (because I can't imagine it gets much better than this). You want a spastic drummer with more talent than a DCI drumline? Pig Destroyer has one. Do you want one of the most talented and brutal guitarists ever to make your ears bleed. Crank up Pig Destroyer. Or how about a vocalist who will make your mother cry from terror? Pig Destroyer has the answer. With an album this good, it's hard to really analyze it. It's just GOOD! I can't find a place where I would say "A cool guitar fill would fit here" or "He should've screamed a bit more" or "The drummer really needs to clean up his playing" because it's so impecable. Then why only a 90%? Because I'm hard as fuck to really impress, so a 100% is only attained if a band is so amazingly legendary that every emo kid does actually kill themself or I rashly rate them thinking whatever band is the best thing since macaroni and cheese, only to realize that they were only very good, but not the best.
Pig Destroyer is the best.
Two words come to mind within the first twenty seconds of hearing track one on Pig Destroyer’s new release: FUCKING GRIND. Back in full sledge hammer force with skull-crushing double bass pedal madness and crunchy-delicious guitar riffs along with the maddening howls from the deepest bowels of the vocalist’s stomach with Phantom Limb. One can instantly hear the heightened production quality with every note and beat coming in crystal clear. Another perfection of art grind? Perhaps. Lyrics are still a sickening ode to the madness of Haye’s mind and a good read for anyone interested in them.
Yes, that’s right. Pig Destroyer has introduced this concept into their song structures. Specialty PD breakdowns are sure to get any fan’s adrenaline pumping, head banging and arms swinging. It’s all the more appropriate for this band considering their genre, but they still retain the metal aspect and manage to chunk out some new riffs with frantic drums pushing the envelope in obvious technical prowess. The drummer manages to come up with some great fills and thus extending the insanity to new levels. Tracks average out to around two minutes a piece with Loathsome (a personal favorite of mine) clocking in at four. Don’t think you’ll get bored though. Each song is as noisy and explosive as the next. No bassist? No problem. The band still sounds awesome without one. Do you like creepy samples on top of it all? They still have those too!
This album should appeal to fans old and new of grindcore and is a solid reminder of Pig Destroyer’s ability to appeal to casual listeners of the genre (such as myself). Buy it, download it, whatever. Shame that they don’t do nationwide tours though.
Pig Destroyer seems to be a band that has been heavily adored by casual fans of grindcore. Most new comers to the genre find Pig Destroyer to be likable right away. With the release of "Phantom Limb", it's obvious why this band clicks so easy, but don't let prevent you from hearing it. "Phantom Limb" is an album for grind fans old and new.
For anyone who hasn't heard Pig Destroyer before, this is what to expect. Short songs, lots of intense drum work, frantic grind riffing, and some of the most insane lyrics ever written. All these elements are consistent throughout Pig Destroyer's catalogue, and here they are expanded a bit more. One will notice write away that the song lengths on this album have become a bit longer, as there are only 14 songs presented here. Nevertheless, each song manages to feel like a Pig Destroyer song.
The album opens up with some eerie sampling (as the band has a new member that contributes noise and samples). Honestly, I never noticed much of a difference, but paying close attention will allow one to find some of the subtle touches buried in the music. "Girl with the Slayer Jacket" has some noise underlying it about a minute in. Anyway, following the opening sample, the album explodes in grindcore fashion. A frantic riff floats overtop of blasting drums, and right away Pig Destroyer fans will be smiling.
As usual, there is no bass work on the album. Pig Destroyer needs no bass player, as the guitar tone along with the bass drums fills out the bass niche quite well. Some new comers may find that hard to believe, but just listen. It makes sense.
Pig Destroyer experiments with some noisier sections throughout the album with some tom work. This is where the song lengths become longer. Take the song "Loathsome" for example. It features some noisy jam parts that end up cascading into itself, and exploding into the next grind riff. This happens a few times throughout the album and proves itself to be effective in increasing dynamics and overall enjoyment.
Of course, one has to comment on the lyrics presented by Pig Destroyer during a review. JR Hayes is one creative bastard, and I mean that to the most extreme extent possible. His lyrics deal with a variety of topics, but do it in a storyline, first person perspective, with a little bit of stream of consciousness for good measure. He deconstructs religion in "Heathen Temple", watches some girls get dismembered in "The Machete Twins", and remembers his first kiss in "Girl in the Slayer Jacket". Obviously there's more to each song than what I stated, but the way he does them is so original, he would make poets like Edgar Allan Poe proud.
Everything about this album is stellar. Clocking in around 30 minutes, it ends up being a great amount of explosive music. Pig Destroyer can honestly do no wrong, and this album further justifies their status as modern grindcore legends.
Pig Destroyer-Phantom Limb (2007)
My first offering of Pig Destroyer was Prowler In The Yard, which I believe to be the magnum opus of grindcore and makes all other grind bands pretty much pale in comparison. I haven’t heard any of their other albums from these guys since so this will be more in relation to Prowler in the Yard than any other.
There are a few noticeable changes in the sound. One is the average length of the composition. Songs are longer and are more in the 3 minute range rather than Prowler in the Yard, which has much shorter compositions. Secondly, there is less grind in the songs are more metal and have a bit more groove-oriented sound, not groove in the sense of nu-metal and mainstream metal but a lot more “chugga-chugga’ riffs. Songs such as “Loathsome”, and “Girl In The Slayer Jacket” exemplify this the best. There are also many apparent tempo changes going from mid paced riffing to an all out blistering grindcore attack which keeps the album more interesting. Pig Destroyer still seems to have the capability to pull out some excellent riffs that will have you going ape shit, even if some are a bit recycled. The band also throws in a few breakdowns that are half-way decent, but don’t detract or add to the record.
A lot of things have maintained or improved in Pig Destroyer’s sound most especially their vocalist, JR. JR has a commanding vocal performance and his style hasn’t changed a bit. The crisp production of this album gives him more power on this record then I have ever heard before and that is definitely a good thing. Pig Destroyer is known for their poetic lyrics (Jennifer) and they still prove to be creative with the pen in the new album. This album was advertised on the album cover as the “musical manifestation of the violent experience of the human animal” and this proves to be accurate. The lyrics are still full of explicit gorey imagery and non-cliché metaphors for human existence, which I find very interesting. You know you’re in for a wild ride with the intro and the wall of feedback fading through on “Rotten Yellow”.
Overall, I’d give this an 85 out of 100. While Pig Destroyer are still a top-notch grindcore band the songs are little less inspiring because of the longer compositions and mid-pace riffage, which cause this album to lose a bit of intensity, but I still find Phantom Limb as a very positive contribution to the metal scene and recommend to a Pig Destroyer and Grindcore fan.