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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'.