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shuffle challenge - 75%

RapeTheDead, January 24th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, 2CD, Relapse Records (Limited edition, Digipak)

In an attempt to throw myself out of my comfort zone a bit and look for a new challenge, I decided to pull up my iTunes (which has my entire collection ripped on it), put "shuffle" on and review the first album that played - no skipping allowed. This was the first thing that came up. Here goes.

So I guess this album is the reason that Scott Hull is a Big Fucking Deal? It certainly seems like it, considering the near-universal critical acclaim for this and multiple major metal media outlets (gotta love that alliteration) calling it the "grindcore album of its generation". It's hard for me to imagine what the hype was like for this around when it came out (it was just a wee bit before my time), but it seems like this album was really successful because at least half of Relapse's roster after this album came out tried to go for the same kind of frantic, salad-shooter deathgrind style (or at least splashed it in every now and then). Is this really what started it all?

Maybe it's the fact that I wasn't listening to metal back at the turn of the century when the standard for extremity was a bit different, but I don't quite feel the same sort of ruckus about this that others appear to. To be fair, this certainly still holds up as a fairly creepy and unsettling album, which is surprisingly rare in grindcore. Usually, there's more of a gritty, displaced anger in grind that is more in line with its punk roots, but Prowler in the Yard is an album that seems to cater more towards death metal fans. The guitars have a thicker low end (despite the absence of a bass), and the drums have a certain degree of complexity that you don't really see with punk drummers. That gives Prowler in the Yard a more subdued, creeping feel that sets it apart from the pack. The pornogore lyrical themes supplement this well, as they're very tastefully done. There's a demented spin to the words that set them apart from 99% of bands with similar subject matter. (Not that it really matters since all you can make out are the Microsoft Sam moments, but whatever.) This mixes despondent heaviness with perverted mania, and in that way I can understand why Prowler in the Yard was a media darling and considered to be a landmark album in its style. Do I feel the same way? Not really. At the very least, I can see why it is considered to be an album of such high pedigree.

If I can sum it up in one sentence: this is a classic album I don't really care for. I dabble a bit in grind, but I wouldn't say I'm an expert, so maybe I just don't understand the extent to which this album shaped the genre. That being said, this has a lot of death metal influence on it, and that's more my bag, so if anything this should be right up my alley. It's just that this is a little bit...too musical, if that makes sense. Prowler in the Yard sounds unhinged, but in such a clinically tight way that it feels manufactured. It is scattered, but in such a precise way that it seems too perfectly placed. I'm not vibing with Hull's riff style, either. It throws a bunch of different influences in (death, grind, sludge, thrash, noise rock, whatever you hear man), but they all blur together due to the emphasis on overall tone and getting a full, thick sound as opposed to making the riffs too defined. Maybe Hull was just trying to make up for being the lone guitarist, but the riffs lose a bit of definition in the process. This is both too polished to feel genuine and too muddy to have bite. Again, maybe that was the intention and that's exactly why you think this is amazing, but I guess it's just not my style.

If you're getting into grind, I would most certainly recommend Prowler in the Yard, especially if you're already familiar with other extreme music. Do I enjoy it or listen to it a lot? Nah. I bought this a couple years ago, listened to it a few times then, forgot about it, listened to it a few times now for this review, and I'll probably forget about it again unless I randomly trudge through my collection in a couple years' time. Aside from the sludgy thrash grooves in "Trojan Whore" (among a couple of other songs), there are maybe half a dozen other moments on the album that are particularly noteworthy. The drum performance is admittedly pretty stunning when examined, but after a while it just becomes a slurry of blasting like most other grind drumming. It's slightly spicier and has a bit more variation, but still has the same trappings of the genre at the end of the day. Hopefully you'll be able to get more out of Prowler in the Yard than I was able to, because it's quite well done. Just not really my thing.