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Face Melting, Head - 80%

Kringelorde, September 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Relapse Records

Alt Title: "Would Would God Create Something So Rad, Unless He Wanted Us To Mosh?"

Originally Written for Kringelorde Archives

So I've never been that balls deep into grindcore. Sorry, it's just a fact of life. I see why the genre is popular though. I'm always down for some mind numbing noise and speed, even if I usually don't stick around for a full LP. Piggy D was one of the few bands on my grind radar, however, mostly because albums like Prowler In The Yard and Terrifyer give me my daily dose of “I just need some fucking noise right now”. Lately however, the band's material has been pretty polarizing. Ever since Phantom Limb the fanbase seems to be split right down the middle with newer fans appreciating the more riff driven and experimental side of the band, and the other half, older fans, who want the old school grind they signed up for. I'm not exactly sure where I fall, as someone who really doesn't give much of a shit about grindcore in the first place, but I can tell that Piggy D isn't really trying to win anyone over on Head Cage... mostly cause they fucking nailed it and anyone with taste should dig it.

Head Cage is easily Piggy D's farthest step away from their grind roots (at least in terms of structure) since Phantom Limb. 12 tracks, song lengths ranging from 1 to 3 minutes each with a monster of a 7 minute track at the end. It's compact little album, but its length and structure pack a real hefty punch. Over it's 30 minute run time, Head Cage packs in Piggy D's most dense and riff filled songs to date. The most comparable thing to Head Cage might be Napalm Death's most recent material, ala Apex Predator or Utilitarian. Which is all the more amazing that Head Cage ends up packing such a wallop since this is Piggy D's first full project at this length and scale.

The album (and the band really) seem to be at their best when stuffing the songs full of riffs takes precedent over the noise. The songs themselves are quite eclectic, with the band pulling from death metal, crust punk, straight hardcore punk, a little sludge, and even some metalcore. It's a nice welcome change of pace in my opinion, as well as an opportunity to build on some of the more interesting styles seen on Phantom Limb. “Army of Cops” is a big stand out track sounding something more akin to Suicide Silence than a typical Piggy D track. But it works out all the better for it. Vocalist Hayes' absolutely vicious vocal delivery really takes center stage, while the crunchy riff drives the whole thing forward with moshy glee. “Circle River” also has a stand out appeal, whose thrashing punky riffing sounds like a face melting cross between Toxic Holocaust and Piggy D. I wasn't digging “The Torture Fields” as a single, but now it's sludgy crushing opening riff is a perfect pace breaker before launching into the more typical grind riff, then catching you off guard once again with more crunchy breakdowns. The only songs that really don't do anything for me are “Mt. Skull”, being a more typical grind affair, and thus kind of sticking out more on this album than the actually “experimental” tracks, and the closer “House of Snakes”. “House of Snakes” isn't a bad song or anything, it's just too long and probably could have lost a little weight, not really needing its 7 minute run time.

Production wise, the band has never sounded better. The addition of bassist John Jarvis was a wonderful decision. Not only is he a fantastic musician (see: “The Last Song”) but his bass adds a wonderful layer of weight to everything, adding to the overall intensity and fullness of the sound. I would be remiss to not also mention that lyrically, the band is absolute fire, at least most of the time. Some tracks definitely have that “insert brutal lyrics here” vibe that a lot of death metal can't help but have, but Head Cage has some really good lines. The final lines of “Army of Cops” being “why would God create something so weak unless he wanted it to suffer?” Is absolutely God Tier and the lyrics to “The Last Song” made me depressed upon impact.

Head Cage was a real fun time. I'm sure a lot of Pig Destroyer fans are pissed that they aren't “true grind” anymore and I understand that, but you just don't have a neck to headbang with if you say Head Cage isn't full of bangers. It's one of the strongest records in the band's discography, and I can't wait to see where they go next.