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Bring me the heads of Pig Destroyer - 58%

gasmask_colostomy, April 6th, 2019

Calling Pig Destroyer grindcore these days is as fraught with difficulty as trying to recharge your new smartphone with the charger of an older model - those two things just aren’t compatible any more. Since Carcass and Repulsion back in the day, grindcore has spliced punk energy and attitude with extreme metal speed and violence, creating chaotic, angry music to accompany the act of punching a series of irregular holes through the drywall in your home, using only your fist and face. Head Cage could still be described as chaotic and angry, but in the six years since Book Burner more has been done to modernize the sound and the pace has notably slowed. To put another perspective on things, John Jarvis is the Washington group’s first bona fide bass player to appear on an album. Have Pig Destroyer grown up?

The overriding themes of Head Cage seem to be abstract rage and palm-muted chugging. For a random sample of abstract rage, see this excerpt from ‘The Concrete Beast’: “The concrete beast / Has devoured the land / Vandalize the rubble / Crooked catwalk.” Poetic, huh? Sometimes the two elements collide wonderfully together, as in ‘Circle River’, which lurches off with a muscular riff before arriving at the bouncy gang vocal chorus. However, fans of grindcore should note that Bring Me the Horizon is a valid reference for the thickened guitar tone and strongly rhythmic drumming. A few crazier moments stand out, such as the swiftly changing death metal riffing of ‘Mt. Skull’ and blast frenzy of ‘Terminal Itch’, but the shift seems transparent in the numbers - no song lasts less than a minute and the majority head over two.

Though the songs have grown longer and slower, something distinctly by-the-numbers plagues the 32 minutes of Head Cage, since the more mature range of pace and dabbling with other genres is not accompanied by any advance in playing techniques or development of distinctive features. Pig Destroyer have left grind behind and - despite Head Cage not being a poor effort - haven’t arrived anywhere else particular yet.

Originally written for Metalegion #4 -