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Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb

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Artist: Pig Destroyer

Album: Phantom Limb

Label: Relapse

Review date: Aug. 27, 2007

D.C. area grindcore titans PxDx return with a follow-up to 2004’s Terrifyer. Much has been made of the way this release sees the trio – vocalist J.R. Hayes, guitar wizard Scott Hull (also of Agoraphobic Nosebleed), and drummer Brian Harvey, who have recently added noise specialist Blake Harrison to become a quartet – pushing into new areas, with longer tunes, almost catchy hooks, and a relative dearth of Hayes’ slasher-violent revenge fantasies.

That’s not exactly the case. That is to say, this is as nasty a record as any of their previous efforts, and some of these elements have always been in the band’s repertoire. Hull has always been adept at producing incredible riffs and hooks, the kind of things that lodge themselves into your brain (and much of the band’s earlier material is arguably hookier than this). And they’ve always used pure noise, evincing a debt to sources like the Melvins (though never so sarcastic) and Swans (though not so elegiac) most obviously. Some of these gestures seem a tad anachronistic or even sophomoric – like the squealing swine superimposed over a recording of communion (though the maniacal laughter on “Thought Crime Spree” is pretty effective) – but elsewhere there’s a new thematic range to Hayes’ musings, as with the near-nostalgia of “Girl in the Slayer Jacket.”

But as ever, what really gets you going is the harsh and heavy sound itself. Check out the seriously complex “Jupiter’s Eye,” whose craggy density has always been a part of Hull’s aesthetic, but rarely deployed so unapologetically. It’s all in the serve of bludgeoning riffs, though, and doesn’t untether into the choposphere. The band also seems to have rekindled its love affair with the breakdown, again a consistent element but here performed with violent relish (and they take on a new urgency in the lengthier tunes, like the middle portion of “Loathsome”). What’s newer is the occasionally choppy feel and NWOBHM twinned guitars on “Heathen Temple” (with a weirdly off-putting choir in the background) and the expanded harmonic palette on a tune like “Alexandria,” before the flashing knives of the conclusion (where Hayes seems to be baking in the Beltway heat, waiting for the Wilson Bridge). The record ends on an unsettling note, with an untitled track that’s a location recording deep in a subway station, with the train pulling away and leaving behind some old country tune (sounds like Ray Price singing “I’ve Got a New Heartache”) with electronic crickets in the background. So all in all, this is another top-notch metal record from a great band. It’s a bit more coherent and memorable than Terrifyer to me, even if not quite at the level of Prowler in the Yard.

By Jason Bivins

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