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The Breakup Album from Hell - 90%

Loss 96, August 13th, 2018

‘Prowler in the Yard’ is seen by many as one of the great milestones in not only grindcore, but in extreme music as a whole. It is an album that is credited with bringing grind into the 2000’s, with a more updated, abrasive, and technical sound. Not only is it unique in that fact, but it is also one of the few grindcore concept albums out there.

I’m very familiar with this album’s reputation and why it is revered by many, in fact I attempted a listen to it over half a decade ago when I was in high school. At the time I had a strong taste for well-produced melodic death metal, and this album sounded too muddy and chaotic to my In Flames loving ears and I didn’t really read lyrics back then, but now as a somewhat jaded and cynical 21 year old I’ve developed quite the taste for the more “ugly” sounding subgenres metal has to offer and lyrics are quite a big deal for me now, so I thought I’d take ‘Prowler in the Yard’ out for another spin, and boy what a spin it was.

Before discussing the music, I think it is important to take a look at Prowler’s concept as this is a big part of what makes this album unique. The album focuses on the deranged thoughts of the heartbroken and disturbed ‘Prowler’, who is stalking his ex-girlfriend ‘Jennifer’, and displays his increasingly depraved fantasies of getting back with her…so in other words this is the breakup album from Hell. This in itself is nothing completely original, but what makes this story engaging is how it is portrayed in the lyrics by vocalist J.R Hayes.

These are some of the most well written and genuinely unsettling lyrics that I think I’ve come across in quite some time. Quite a lot of death metal/grindcore lyrics leave me quite indifferent, but there were actually points in the lyrics where I thought to myself “This is ridiculous”, or “This is messed up” as I read along with the music. The first of course being in the infamous intro track entitled “Jennifer”. This intro track is actually one of the more well-known songs on the album, and it’s not difficult to see why. We the listeners are given a cold emotionless, but descriptive account of a hypersexual act performed by Jennifer and her friend to a crowd of unsuspecting onlookers courtesy of Microsoft Sam. One onlooker cries “This is disgusting, it’s pornography”, but a middle aged man who is masturbating as he watches counters with the now famous line “No. This is beautiful. This is art.”

I have a tendency to skip intro tracks, but ‘Jennifer’ is absolutely integral to setting the tone for ‘Prowler’, and I can’t imagine listening to this album without starting off with this track, it’s that effective in creating the atmosphere. The depravity doesn’t let up from there, Hayes’ lyrics have an almost surreal, psychedelic quality that first comes off as a bit bizarre, but there a few references to drugs and antidepressants, so this could very well be our protagonist having drug induced hallucinations or at least that’s what I gathered from ‘Cheerleader Corpses’ and ‘Mapplethorpe Grey’. I could write a whole essay on the lyrics, but there is also music I need to talk about, but the point is that they are an essential part of fully engaging with this album, which isn’t something that I can say about a lot of albums in this genre. If you are a first time listener I highly recommend you read the lyrics as you listen, and try not to gasp too hard at the last few lines of ‘Starbelly’.

So, the lyrics are pretty great, but what about the music? Well it’s no secret that Scott Hull, and Brian Harvey, are two of the most respected musicians in the genre, and both of them really shine here. Hull serves up chaotic, but technical passages which compliment Hayes’ demented vocal delivery nicely, and although there a lot of technical spots on the album, it is clear that Hull is a firm believer in the power of a groovy riff. There are plenty of moments where Pig Destroyer aren’t afraid of indulging in a little bit of chugging that’ll get any listener nodding along. Brian Harvey is an absolute powerhouse behind the kit. His blast beats are dizzying, but precise just the way they should be. He also knows when to tone it down a bit to let the music breathe or at least the closest thing that comes to breathing on this album.

But the highlight for me has got to be J.R Hayes’ vocal performance. Grindcore is more known for its guttural cookie monster vocals, but not here. Hayes’ vocals sound desperate and anguished, but most frighteningly of all he sounds human. With harsh vocals the aim generally tends to be to sound otherworldly. Like a demon or one of the ring wreathes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but on ‘Prowler in the Yard’ Hayes’ sounds like a man who’s completely lost his grip on reality and is trapped inside the dark caverns of his own mind and is ready to make the unspeakable things in his head a reality, and that is far more terrifying than any Tolkien inspired hell spawn.

Now for my criticisms. I realise that this is a grindcore album, and very short songs are kind of a staple of the genre, and short bursts of intensity are part of the charm, but I actually find Pig Destroyer at their most enjoyable when they let their ideas hang around for a bit. There were quite a few times when I’d hear a riff that I’d really like, and just as I start to really get into it the song is over. I’m afraid I’m the kind of guy that likes to hear something he likes a couple of times in a song, which may raise some questions as to why I’m reviewing a grindcore album, but this is just a minor nit-pick that in no way compromises the enjoyability of the album.

So all in all ‘Prowler in the Yard’ is worthy of a lot of the praise it receives, and if the music isn’t really your thing, it’s worth checking out for some highly disturbing yet very well thought out lyricism. Either way Prowler is worth listening to at least once with the lyrics regardless of your metal affiliation.

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.

I hope I'm dead by the time you read this - 100%

Junkyard God, August 26th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, 2CD, Relapse Records (Limited edition, Digipak)

This is beautiful. This is art.

The whole album is a fucking beautiful piece of art. I think this is the only way I can explain the awesomeness of this album. Intro, Jennifer, is one of the best intros ever. It builds the great atmosphere. They brought to grindcore something that grindcore never had. I can't tell what it is, because it can't be explained by words. I could say that it is a technique, but it isn't good word for this. Many grindcore bands like Assuck played awesome technical grind, but Pig Destroyer brought us something new.

Vocals aren't typical grindcore high screams, growls, J.R. is just screaming literally like a fucking rabid dog. I think that's the main reason why we can hear the anger coming from this music, from those lyrics. Lyrics are one fucking poem. J.R. is known for writing awesome lyrics, and without doubt, his lyrics are the best, Natasha could be the main proof for this, but Prowler in the Yard's lyrics have something special in themselves.

Everyone who's into grindcore music should know how talented Scott Hull is. Even if you didn't hear Pig Destroyer before, you probably heard Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or 40 More Reasons to Hate Us by Anal Cunt. Okay, Anal Cunt, isn't a good example, because there Scott don't show us technique, but he's doing awesome work. But getting to the point, in Pig Destroyer he shows us all his abilities. He's doing such a masterpiece. Prowler in The Yard isn't as technical as Phantom Limb for example, but it doesn't matter. It's very technical anyway. Scott's riffs are brutal and complicated, and that's awesome. Sometimes I can hear mathcore influences in his guitar work. He can carry on every style I think. Brian Harvey is also doing a good piece of shit. His blasts are kickass, but he also can play very technically. Intro for Junkyard God always gets me. I don't know what else I could say about him.

As I said before, Pig Destroyer doesn't play typical grind. In their music can be heard doom/sludge, hardcore punk, thrash, and even mathcore influences. Believe me, it's a fucking awesome mix. Trojan Whore is an example. There are blended all styles that I said before. It's also one of my favourite tracks from this album. The other track that needs so much attention is Starbelly. Fucking Starbelly. This typical sludge song is one of the best things that PxDx have ever done. Those lyrics, those emotions coming from J.R.'s screams, it can't be explained by words. Really. One of my favourite songs ever.

I will finish as I started.

This is beautiful. This is art.

Great Music - 96%

KAS11n, October 5th, 2014

Pig Destroyer's "Prowler in the Yard" is a great piece of Grindcore calculated mayhem. A great grindcore release, to me, maintains a level of extremely high intensity, but also comes across as well thought out and calculated. Contrary to what many people think (especially those who aren't into grindcore), the genre isn't about simply playing as loud and fast as possible without having song structure, or songs at all for that matter. This album meets and exceeds the criteria of a great grindcore release as outlined above (I'm not a professional critic, but I have listened to a lot different music in my life and discovering new music is probably my favorite hobby, so I like to think I know what I'm talking about). While driving home from the store I popped this album in (again) and I was reminded how great it is, and felt inspired to share my opinion with whoever cares to read it.

I'm going to focus on the album as a whole as opposed to giving a track by track or anything like that. This album does a great job of conveying a mood of terror and violence, which is what it set out to do, and it achieves it seemingly without straining itself, which is apparent 2 minutes in. This band is very talented and they put it on full display on this record. It maintains a sense of urgency, intensity, chaos and fury while not abandoning the realm of melody and hinting at it fairly frequently-it isn't a bunch of noise with no direction. There are actual songs here. What makes it so great is that it keeps the gas pedal floored for it's entirety without compromising it's knack for producing actual tunes. Any self described "extreme metal head" has a soft spot deep down for catchiness and melody, and Pig Destroyer appeals to that without sounding "soft" by any stretch of the imagination.

What this album is, to me, is a band who knows how good they are and wants to prove it without coming across as pretentious in the least- like a humble athlete who just put on the performance of their life. Guitarist Scott Hull is a damn wizard and beast on this album, displaying ultimate brutality while working in clever and catchy riffs (“Thumbsucker” is a good example of this). Vocalist JR Hayes isn't my favorite grindcore vocalist, but he still does an amazing job here, maintaining a fairly high pitch the entire time. Drummer Brian Harvey absolutely destroys his drum kit here, I almost feel bad for the trees that went it to making the drums and sticks. Oak trees shudder in fear at the sound of his name. Like I mentioned before, a great grindcore release, to me, is one that brings the sonic violence and intensity without sounding sloppy or haphazard, but sounding calculated and precise, like an expert artist making an abstract work of art, and Pig Destroyer comes off like God-damned Jackson Pollock here.

If you're new to grindcore, this is a GREAT place to start. If you enjoy grindcore and haven't heard this, get out from under the rock you're living under and find a way to listen to this. My only minor complaints are that there's no bass guitar (but it's really okay. This album is so good that you won't miss it. I am a bassist so I love bass, but it's ok), and that the vocals are high pitched screams pretty much the entire time. I like when vocalists mix it up, but overall there are no serious issues here. This is a phenomenal piece of grindcore brutality, but doe sent deserved to be boxed in and limited like that. It is a phenomenal piece OF MUSIC.

Utter Insanity - 100%

FrizzySkernip, December 21st, 2012

Murder, sex, insanity, horror, hopelessness. All of these themes are thrusted upon you in heaping piles throughout the album. I'm not going to lie, when I first saw the album cover, I thought it was going to be a typical grindcore gorefest with nothing new or unique to bring to the table.

How wrong I was.

From the opening track 'Jennifer', I found myself at a loss for words as Microsoft Sam whispered sweet insanity into my ears. Describing a girl who playfully wrestles her friend to the ground and licking her eyeballs in front of a growing crowd with a member of the crowd masturbating to the scene. The narrative ends and finally the band comes in to rearrange your face just as you're trying to comprehend what the hell you just listened to.

Although I do not play any instruments, I still admire the musicianship of Pig Destroyer. J.R. Hayes' harsh, barking vocals with the shrieking guitar work of Scott Hull and the pounding intensity of drummer Brian Harvey, the album is reminiscent of a train wreck. A sexy train wreck that I was proud to experience. Holding hints of sludge and hardcore, Pig Destroyer blend them well to make an amazing grindcore album. One that is truly a landmark in the grindcore genre.

The concept of the album itself is nothing new. A man stalks his ex-girlfriend and it eventually ends in murder. Where the originality comes in is in the lyrics. The lyrics of the album are some of the most batshit insane things I've ever read. Tracks like 'Ghost of a Bullet', 'Heart and Crossbones' and 'Piss Angel' showcase the bands specialty in writing some fucked up shit. Speaking of 'Piss Angel', that's when Microsoft Sam comes back to finish up the album, ending off on a note of utter insanity, horror and eerie ambiance.

All considered, Prowler in the Yard is an incredibly well done album, with no complaints coming from me. It is everything a grindcore album should be, and other grindcore bands should look to this album for inspiration.

Smashing grind conception. - 95%

tshred666, October 21st, 2012

The more and more I delved into the realm of grindcore, the more I realized it's not an entirely accurate label for Pig Destroyer. Hell, the overtones of sludge, groove, and post-hardcore would beg that this isn't really grind. In fact, this sounds more like 90's metalcore and post-hardcore played with the frenzy and bravado of Cryptopsy and early Kataklysm. And to add to the fact that they did splits with the sludge/experimental band Isis and the post-hardcore band Orchid as opposed to splits with crust and grind bands.

Just looking at the majority of the riffs, instead of punk-ish, chromatic frenzies, we get a dissonant mish-mash of Pantera, Kreator, eyehategod, Melvins, and whatever stew of post-hardcore these guys were jamming to in the 90's. The only thing that keeps this pinned down to the style pioneered by Napalm Death and Repulsion is the short song length, but song length really doesn't make a difference between genres in my opinion. What makes a genre is the overall sound and organization. Plenty of doom and prog bands write songs that are generally several minutes long, but I think we all can agree that bands like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost are a world apart from Dream Theater and Fates Warning.

And another thing that separates this from the normal grind mold is J.R. Hayes' post-adolescent poetry and high, piercing wails. Where most grind vocalists prefer a deep, percussive bark sprinkled with the occasional high vocals, Hayes opts for predominately high pitched yells with the occasional low growl. And also where most grind would either focus on political or anatomical matters, this band provides a very distorted perception of isolation, sexual violence and perversion, and interpersonal relationships. Based on the album cover and album title, one would expect a wholly explicit gorefest played with proper Regurgitate inspired gusto, not a stew of multiple genres and a journey into an abyss of insanity.

For those expecting a resurrection of Jesse Pintado or a second generation Bill Steer in Scott Hull, you will be very disappointed, but for those that have an affinity for the obtuse and experimental, this is definitely an album to check out.

Nothing short of Godly. - 95%

almightyjoey, July 2nd, 2009

Pig Destroyer's 'Prowler in the Yard' really upped the ante in both their discography, and the grindcore genre in general. Grindcore concept albums are incredibly rare, and that's what makes them so interesting, I guess. That's the first thing I'd like to address: whilst being a concept album, it never, ever seems overambitious, pretentious, or just plain over-the-top. Everything is paced out wonderfully, and it combines a solid story with vague lyrics, to insert your own interpretation. There's even a passage on the back cover of the CD's liner notes, with a short paragraph detailing the characters, and the backstory of the album. I suggest reading this before pressing play, because once your finger hits that little green button, it kicks off immediately.

Like their later concept album, Terrifyer, it starts off with a chilling intro, played by Microsoft Sam. There's something about it that makes it scary. Perhaps it's the familiarity of it, combined with an eerie background ambience. Perhaps it's the story it is telling. Perhaps it's just that it's plain unusual for Microsoft Sam to appear on a grindcore CD. Maybe it's all of these things. Once you're about to put your finger on it, it's too late. Maniacal laughter fills the background, and the background ambience intensifies, slowly. It builds, and builds, until, boom. The grind starts. And, oh, does it start.

The album seems to be built around two movements. The 15+ grindcore tracks at the beginning, and the last handful of songs towards the end. The grindcore ones are, as you would expect, completely top of their game. From the groovy 'Trojan Whore' to the absolutely terrifying 'Body Scout', it shows you how varied a three-man band can go, and how much intensity they can throw in your face. It's interesting to note the lyrics, too. Some of them are absolute genius (see 'Murder Blossom'), whereas some of them are really abstract, and are straight from the notebooks of a madman (see 'Cheerleader Corpses'). After this series of grindcore shorts, in the words of Bad Boys 2, shit just got real.

'Hyperviolet' starts, and it's immediately apparent that there's something different. It's much longer than the other songs, and there's some definite sludge influence. The echoing guitar work from Scott Hull, the intense drumming from Brian Harvey, and the mad shrieking of JR Hayes is added to this eerie background drone, making it sound like some sort of doom metal track. After about two minutes, it all fades away, leaving you with a minute-long feedback drone. The next track, 'Starbelly' also seems to be quiet sludgy and doomy, too. From the surprising length of five minutes, to the detuned slugging riffs, it's definitely a continuation of the previous track.

This leads us nicely into the penultimate track; 'Junkyard God'. A minute-long drum solo acts as a cold splash of water to the face, to alleviate you of the beautiful, hypnotizing effects of the previous two doom numbers. After the drum solo, we're welcomed back to the familiarity of the grindcore. The familiarity continues in 'Piss Angel', which is instantly recognizable as trademark Pig Destroyer grindcore. Like the previous three songs, though, there's also something unusual about this one. Again, this is over 7 times longer than a regular Pig Destroyer track. Wondering what makes it so long is the best part of the track, and makes it a fitting climax. After the traditional in-your-face grindcore is over, we're greeted once again by Microsoft Sam. And if you thought the lyrics of the opening track were twisted, you haven't heard anything yet. The climax of the story is even more sick, disgusting, and downright wonderful. Once we've discovered the conclusion of the story, the track doesn't stop. We're left hanging with the same eerie ambience as before. It continues for a short while, until we have some electronic entity singing quietly. You're left to wonder what it has to say. Is it singing words at all? What is it? Why is it singing? Once you've started to wonder these things, it stops. Almost the exact antithesis of the introduction, 'Jennifer'.

While I prefer Terrifyer, this is probably the most intense Pig Destroyer release, and definitely the least accessible. It can be downright terrifying, groovy, philosophical, and more often than not, all three of these. While I consider it a CD rack essential, I understand this isn't for everyone. Even fans of grind could consider this "too much". If you do like a challenge, or sick, twisted music, this is the one for you. Even if you don't like it at first, persevere. It can be so rewarding to listen to.

A Wholly Terrifying Experience - 95%

viciouschairshot, March 17th, 2009

At this point in the evolution of metal, it is exceedingly rare for an album to be so unflinchingly brutal as to elicit an intense reaction in the listener. Rarer still is when the album actually has the potential to outright terrify. Whether the veritable arms race of speed and aggression in bands has desensitized listeners to ‘extreme metal’ staples like blast beats and growling vocals, or, just as likely, the incorporation of these staples into the lexicon of more mainstream acts has effectively robbed them of some of their original power, by the close of the nineties, it seemed that metal had possibly reached an extremity impasse. Not surprisingly, many bands (and fans) began seeking out the musical intensity of Heavy Metal in less conventional forms. Just to list a few examples, 2001 saw Neurosis release A Sun That Never Sets, which relied more on psychedelic ambience than on the crushing dissonance of their previous releases, as well as the debut of Mastodon, who would help catalyze a newfound interest in prog-influenced metal. Even more tellingly, the beginning of the 21st century saw the meteoric rise in popularity of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley’s Southern Lord Records, and the countless new-school Doom and Drone bands that called it home. Amidst this newfound interest in a matured form of metal, stripped-down Richmond, Virginia grindcore band Pig Destroyer made itself heard with one of the most relentless, uncompromising records ever produced.

While countless groups have attempted to create an experience of industrialized horror, none have been able to do so with the raw, barbaric intensity of Pig Destroyer’s Prowler in the Yard. To be sure, there are undeniably faster albums out there, yet none can match the air of menace created by the trio. Like Mick Harris and the other legendary blasters before him, Brian Harvey’s drum work seldom strays from the straightforward-in-theory-yet-insanely-difficult-in-practice syncopated blast, the drumbeat that, more than any other stylistic element defines the genre. A grindcore drummer’s mettle is often judged by his or her arm strength, and, following these criteria, Harvey is an undisputed master; part of what makes Prowler so frightening is the unrelenting, almost unnatural precision of the drums. Compounding this quality is the guitar work of Scott Hull. Prowler captures the grind veteran’s guitar playing at its most deafening. Hull’s riffs take on the sonic quality of a buzz saw on sheet metal, producing mangled fragments of distortion that abruptly transform into discernable chord progressions, only to devolve back into the walls of noise they emerged from. Decades earlier, Judas Priest created an infectious, rock and roll energy in the machine-like power of their clockwork dual guitars and steady, pounding rhythms; in 2001, Harvey’s drumming and Hull’s guitar create a mechanized sound that is both exhilarating and terrifying in its cold and alien artificiality.

In sharp contrast to the synthetic quality of the drums and guitar, J.R. Hayes vocals maintain a devastating naturalness. The term ‘caged animal’ is thrown around a lot in describing the qualities of a metal singer, but nowhere is this comparison more apt than in Hayes. Unlike many of his peers, Hayes’ vocals don’t so much convey a sense of strength as they do terror. Frantic, hoarse yells give way to piercing screams, leaving it ambivalent as to whether Hayes’ lyrical voice is an agent of the album’s musical torture, or an enraged victim. Hayes has frequently demonstrated himself to be the heart and soul of the band, and Prowler in the Yard is no exception. The sheer pained emotion in his vocal delivery adds a whole new dimension to the music, conveying a sense of suffering that is as engaging as it is repulsive. It is perhaps this quality that makes the album so compelling: As listeners, we don’t know whether we are actively enjoying the record, or having it inflicted upon us.

Prowler in the Yard showcases a staggering twenty two tracks, most of which clock in at less than one minute. Like most great Grindcore albums, the overwhelming speed at which songs begin and end forces the listener to view the album as whole piece in and of itself, a macrocosm composed of the frantic bursts of riffs and blasts that comprise it. More so than any grindcore album before it, Prowler feels like a fully developed, thematically coherent piece. The band even go so far as to employ a sort of framing device to their breakthrough release, beginning and ending the record with two similar spoken word pieces whose contents inform much of the albums’ violently sexual (or vice versa) lyrical themes. It is this completeness that makes Prowler feel like a classic, fully developed album, as opposed to a random, arbitrary collection of tracks. If nothing else, Prowler in the Yard proves that the Grindcore genre has the same artistic potential as its more complex metal brethren. To achieve such a level of artistry while remaining as mercilessly heavy and aggressive as Pig Destroyer, however, is a whole other achievement entirely, one that has secured the groups place in the annals of heavy metal brutality. Disgusting? Without question. Pornography? Perhaps. Art? Unquestionably.

Magnum Opus of Grind! - 94%

TheSunOfNothing, March 5th, 2009

This has got to be one of my favourite grind cd's ever made. It's literally fucking insane. The band never lets up (unless one thinks that the ambient ending to the 8 minute epic "Piss Angel" is considerable as "letting up"). It starts out with 1:22 of a computerized voice and a pitch-shifted laugh. Immediatly afterwards comes "Cheerleader Corpses", which is over before you've had the ability to get back off your feet. Don't worry, "Scatology Homework" hits at us with extreme intensity seconds later. Next we have "Trojan Whore", a more metal influenced track, which actually doesn't sound like grindcore in anyway, more thrash-y or sludge-like. It's slow and heavy, but over before we can really notice it. All the longer songs follow this ("Naked Trees", "Hyperviolet", "Starbelly", "Junkyard God", "Piss Angel" are all metal songs) and I must say I'm glad this band has the talent to play more than one style.

JR is your typical hardcore vocalist, but he also does plenty of high-pitched shreiks ("Scatology Homework", "Tickets To The Car Crash") and low death growls ("Heart And Crossbones", "Mapplethorpe Gray"). His death growls are more noticable than the high shreiks though, and they are mostly scattered around.

Scott's guitars escape your stereotypical grind guitars, and are suprisingly technical. Tracks like "Trojan Whore", "Naked Trees" and "Starbelly" show this off where his riffs sound more thrash or doom metal influenced. He seems to love tremelo picking.

Brian, the drummer, is one of the best grind drummers I've ever heard. He outplays Agoraphobic Nosebleed's drum machine! Not only is he technical and fast, he has a great snare sound and he never feels....annoying or staticy, an immediate plus.

Now, back to the songs. "Body Scout" has one of the weirdest outros I've ever heard, with JR screaming some indecipherable lyric over and over again. "Hyperviolet" contains an ambient ending and is one of Brian Harvey's most technical moments on drums. This is his best performance on the the whole cd. "Starbelly" is predominatly a sludge/doom metal track, and one of the album's best. The closing track, "Piss Angel", is the best of the bunch. It's brutal, thrash-y, and super fucking experimental (the closing ambient section). It's the strongest track of the bunch.

Anyone think they know pure destruction? Anyone think they know grindcore at it's best? After hearing this album, all critics will be silenced. This album is amazing. It's not the best cd ever, but it's still fucking cool.

yeah this is really good - 88%

Noktorn, December 11th, 2008

This is Pig Destroyer's crowning moment. It's the one CD they've managed to release that gets nearly everything right. Whether it was an accident or just the band finally actually deciding to spend some effort is a question which haunts me to this day.

Admittedly it kind of shits the bed in the last third when it gets almost unbearably pretentious with tracks like 'Hyperviolet' and mandatory shitty sludge track 'Starbelly', but the rest of it is really good. Blessed with a clearer, fuller productions which puts the emphasis on guitars rather than 'how can we produce this album to piss off your parents really bad', the songs actually now feel like songs instead of bursts of pretentious noise. It's not really any less grind, and there are numerous songs which are little more than configurations of blast beats and frantic tremolo riffs, but the package as a whole is more musical. There are memorable riffs and song structures; the band is willing to take more time to get from one place to another, build a little tension, smell the grinding roses.

It's still fast and it's still overwhelmingly angry, but it seems more able to articulate that anger than on any other Pig Destroyer release. Other Pig Destroyer albums sound like kids angry at their parents having a tantrum in their room. This is Pig Destroyer at their most convincing, where all of Hayes' screeching finally manages to seem genuinely dangerous and crazed and the riffs convey the sort of malevolence they hint at so much but rarely manage to actually evoke. Really though it's the riffs which dominate this album. Occasionally they seem sort of incongruous and bouncy when compared to the lyrical themes of the release, but they're generally so damned good you don't really notice. They're fiery and sawing and sometimes grooving, but always with a hint of frantic desperation to them, even in their most relaxed moments. A solid drum performance rounds out the pack, adding the ragged rhythmic base that the rest of the music is built on.

Really, the album just works beyond any straightforward definitions or classification. There's something to be said for how the band manages to maintain a sense of urgency amidst the musical dynamics, allowing even groove riffs to feel like they're pushing the songs forward towards even greater heights of intensity. It's stormy and chaotic without ever really losing coherency, and the lack of tracks that feel like nothing more than noise probably does a great deal to increase the overall weight of the album; filler in grind albums tends to lighten the experience more than you'd expect.

It's very well composed music, and it's sometimes amazing just how much creativity the band is able to pack into these short and violent songs. But again I'm brought back to the main question I have about this band: why are none of their other releases like this one, and also, if they were just going to do one seminal work, why wasn't it the first thing they released? It's pretty bizarre how this alone manages to stand out as an island of brilliance amidst the band's otherwise rather tepid catalog, but I guess it's better to get one great one than none. 'Prowler In The Yard' is not only a great grindcore album, but a great metal album in general, and one that all metalheads should hear at one point. It's precisely how modern grind should be pulled off: with conviction, intelligence, and clarity of vision.

Filth-Ridden Bliss - 90%

deluge71, November 14th, 2008

Only on rare occasions does a band actually make me feel dirty for enjoying their music. Pig Destroyer have left me feeling so filth-ridden that taking a shower after each listen has become a ritual of sorts. These guys have a grip on the element of shock that goes far beyond the mostly tedious imagery of today’s grind scene. Guitarist Scott Hull, vocalist J.R. Hayes, and drummer Brian Harvey fully realize that their audience is desensitized to most forms of depravity. In response, they have identified a few hidden nerves and driven an ice pick into each.

The blissful malaise begins with Pig Destroyer’s lyrics, which employ simple poetic devices to heighten the sickness. The simile-laced intro track (entitled “Jennifer”) provides the initial assault, with an emotionless synthespian describing a young girl’s hair covering her face like a “curtain around a hospital bed”. Further morbid symbolism is provided on “Snuff Film at Eleven”, where vocalist Hayes screams “it is very important that I make for a thin chalk outline”. The sheer breadth of disturbing artistry present on “Prowler In The Yard” is simply unparalleled, and this is due largely to the fact that the horror is mental. Like a diseased worm crawling around inside your skull, the frighteningly twisted lyrical images will stick around for the long haul; even after you wish they would just go away.

The other half of this 36-minute scourge is the music itself, which comes across as the menacing catharsis of three sociopaths who get their kicks by hanging out at the local burn clinic. What is so devastating about this disc is Pig Destroyer’s ability to hit the peak of their grinding blitz almost immediately (e.g. “Cheerleader Corpses”), and sustain it until the last five tracks or so. Where many bands would opt to lower the intensity with a couple of filler tracks, Pig Destroyer maintain their frenetic pace and never look back. As indicated, there is somewhat of a “mood swing” during the latter part of the album, where Hull’s lumbering, heavier riffs enter the fray. “Starbelly” is my favorite of these slower tracks, as it comfortably sinks into the mind-numbing depths of agonizing dirge-core. As for the faster tracks, all of them deliver in spades, although I’m a bit partial to “Scatology Homework”, “Evacuating Heaven”, and “Intimate Slavery” for their somewhat smoother vocal phrasing. Simply stated, “Prowler In The Yard” puts Pig Destroyer among the grindcore elite, and those who have yet to realize this are cheating themselves.

So intense, it's beautiful - 95%

OutOfQuestion, March 21st, 2008

First of all, this isn't meant to be negative, but this album should hardly count as grindcore. When they're not playing over-the-top thrash metal riffs on cocaine, they get into some sort of an Acid Bath or Melvins type groove. The only things grindcore here are the vocalist (who is really just your typical hardcore punk singer; an amazing one at that) and when the drummer's blasting away (but hey, blastbeats, a hardcore punk invention, found an audience in metal over 20 years ago already).

So what is this? Well, it's brutal. It's metal. It's probably Dark Angel's and the Melvins' ADD having love child. Fast and relentless, much faster than the band's peers, but with a unique sense of crushing heavy and groove. As mentioned before, this band has no bassist and since these types of bands usually only "need" a bassist to hold the low-end, said bassist is not missed. Scott Hull's use of multiple guitar amps and low-tunings, and of course Brian Harvey's pounding percussion work more than make up for the lack of bassist.

The album starts off with "Jennifer", a robotic voice that acts as the prologue to the rest of the album. The first song, "Cheerleader Corpses", is pretty much your typical "Prowler in the Yard" track: short, fast, heavy-as-balls and ferocious thrash metal riffage with precise but deadly death metal drumming, with some parts that just beg you to reminisce about the Melvins' glory days.

They stick to this formula through-out the whole album, but there are several standouts such as "Evacuating Heaven", "Body Scout" and my personal favorite, "Naked Trees". This climaxes in "Piss Angel", the 22nd track of the album that mixes all of their influences the best, while still sounding like Pig Destroyer. Everything from the tremolo-picked, melodic yet brutal guitar work of the intro to the sludgey chug of the rest of the song -- pure metal bliss. As the song ends, the album closes with the same voice that opened it, which is the perfect way to end this record.

The length of the album is perfect for what it is, they stick to the same formula, but every song is refreshing, but any more of it would've been overkill.

All in all, this is probably my favorite Pig Destroyer release. They switch opposite sub-genres effortlessly while still sounding like Pig Destroyer. If you want something that is just as heavy as it is fast, this is probably what you're looking for.

Mmm...Grind-core. - 85%

Smaug, June 11th, 2005

The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. Granted, it's got its flaws. For example: There's no bass player in this entire band, and some of the songs are so short that it's really hard to get into. The lowest being clocked in at about twenty seconds. If you can manage to get past those two main factors, though, you'll probably love this stuff.

The album starts out with a computerized voice telling a strange story, and eventually you start hearing maniacle laughter in the background. When it's finished, it starts off with the first track. The drumming on this album is pretty good. They don't just stick to blast beats throughout the whole thing, but instead put in real beats and rhythms which can really get you going. The guitarwork is excellent, albiet there are no solos or anything like that, but the riffs themselves are pretty excellent. They only switch off riffs up to four or five times during the longest songs, sometimes twice in the shorter ones. The vocals are, in my personal opinion, great. Especially considering the theme of the album. I mean, it is after all called "Prowler in the Yard". It's supposed to give you that sort of, "somebodie's going to come up behind you and murder you in the most horrendous way possible" type feeling. Especially on track 16 where the instruments just fade and the vocalist says the most crazy shit at five second intervals for about half a minute straight. Track 19 finishes off with eerie ambient music while the drummer rips out double bass beats for about two minutes straight, making you want to get up and start really headbanging. As for the songwriting (I know a good amount of you don't care about that, but bear with me), it's actually pretty good and isn't your typical, "RAPE CHRIST!", "SODOMIZE YOUR MOTHER", and "PEOPLE ARE SHIT" type songwriting you usually get with a lot of extreme metal bands. It's more geared towards the "stalking you because I'm obsessed" type lyrics, which are actually pretty good.

Trauma is fucking sexy. - 98%

Kanwvlf, July 24th, 2004

The only true way to understand this album is to read the lyrics while listening to the music. This way you experience the lyrical mindfuck, along with the heavy blasting and grinding of the band, totally immensing you in the feeling of utter despair.

With over-tones of a concept album ringing in your ears, somehow each track seems to link together, but you can't figure out how. The riffs grab you by the balls, wrench them off, but then suddenly calm down and go into a massaging groove. You start to headbang along, but they blast off again, leaving you dead in the water, with no chance of catching up. Each mindfuck comes one after the other. There's no escaping it, you have to listen to this album fully to understand it, otherwise you just get left with riffs, screams and noise, asking yourself over and over 'Why?'

I'll tell you why. These lyrics are some of the most discordant I have ever read. They dart from place to place, never staying on any certain subject. And they shouldn't. They come at you from everywhere, leaving you no escape, no safety, just pure horror and insanity.

The riffs. Holy shit, the riffs. As I said before, they grab you, throw you around, and don't let you go. You think you're about to die, until... BANG. We've found a groove, and we're going to stick to it for the next twenty seconds until the song is over. That's right, the songs here barely edge over two minutes, because they're just pure horror composed as beautifully as possible into episodes of music. Ready to rip your head off. If you don't manage to survive, the next song comes along and rips the flesh of your lifeless corpse, and the next bleaches your bones, until you're nothing.

You are nothing compared to the mindfuck on this CD. This is horror. This is insanity. This is Pig Destroyer.

A Renaissance of Grindcore? - 93%

EdwardtheBlack, May 2nd, 2004

Upon my first listening to Prowler in The Yard, I found it odd and confusing. People said they were the best grindcore band out there now that Napalm Death was all flannel and haircuts. I just had no idea what to expect. The almost complete lack of guttural vocals stood out, the vocalist wailing in what seemed to be more parts pain than anger. The drumming was frantic, yet not the bog-standard "4 beats of hat and snare for three and a half measures, insert tom fill." The guitar work had a distinctly southern sound throughout the whole albumn. Instead of British corrupted steel, it was more like a Southern twang -wonderful and unpredictable for my ears. The speed of Carcass, yet the warm tone of Kyuss or, dare I say, Pentagram. This may be a bit much on the guitar workings of the albumn, but I feel that Hull might have taken lessons from Tommy Iommi. He is the next riff-master, despite the rumors of riff-stealing. Each song with guitars is infectious, warm, and groove-inducing, despite the fact they clock around 30 seconds in length.

Despite the gruesome cover art, the albumn's concept as a whole is far less morbid than the artist's rendition. It basically begins with a text-to-speech robot discussing the ethics of art vs. pornography, which is merely used to get the listener into a crazy mood, seeing as how the underlying theme is being crazy. Once put into my crazy trance, the story told is a story of pain, betrayal, and eventually murder. A man stalks his ex-girlfriend, contemplating his next move -as well as the past- from a hidden point. This man you have superimposed yourself as while listening to this albumn really is crazy, and a great job of conveying his thoughts is done very well lyrically, as well as musically. The wails represent his pain almost at a molecular level, while the instrumental section seems to well summarize -if not elaborte upon- his skittering, almost random, train of thought. The production is top-notch, and some of the vocal effects are in a class of its own. This is definately the best grindcore albumn I have heard this millenium. even with other newcomers like Watchmaker and Nasum biting at their heels, Pig Destroyer still manage to stay one step beyond them, and both of the aforementioned bands were still unable to top Prowler in the Yard with their 2003 releases.

All in all, Pig Destroyer have made a definite landmark albumn for their genre, if not metal as a whole. I highly suggest this albumn to anyone that has never heard grindcore before, or even the old stalwarts of the grindcore scene, and the newcomers to metal that hearken to hardcore and the like.

Jenifer wrestled her friend playfuly to the ground - 98%

AzzMan, February 14th, 2004

With those words (ed- forced to change due to size), this morbid...thing, begins. The first track features this disturbing electronical spoken word thing, busting into the first real song of the album- if you can call these 30 second monstrosities "songs" in the first place. If not, the album starts getting more brutal from there. These grinding punk melodies come in and bust your head apart fast and relentless, with an awesome set of hardcore-ish screams via our good friend JR. There is not one second where his vocals are present where he slows up.

Same with the guitars. They keep coming, and coming, and creating solid riff structures that the drums start to create solids over, forming into the best grind/core album of all time, hands down.

This album is insane, and if you can't understand the beauty in the lyrics, its of a failed relationship, but everything is a metaphor that creates a short story about this man and his lust after a girl he can't have, or had but lost, by the end of the album. Its about his past, his feelings about whats happening with her, and whats going on in general. Some real awesome, sick stuff in the lyrics.

Overall, I can see what dosn't appeal to everyone- it might be too fast, too distorted or overall too complex without a meaning, if you don't absorb the sound, the emotion put into this trio's work. That might be a turn off to casual fans. Watch it, but don't hesitate too much, you'd miss out on one of a classic breed.