Pig Destroyer – Head Cage

It’s upon us again… After six years and many listens to 2012’s Book Burner, Pig Destroyer have unsheathed Head Cage (Relapse) their sixth full-length in a career spanning two decades. The fact that we continue to get new music from Pig Destroyer seems baffling. Like Converge or Refused, Pig Destroyer are in the unique position of being able to rest on past accomplishments and make good money playing the Summer festival market.

Yet, the creative beast cannot be satiated.

For all the praise and good will that modern classics like Phantom Limb and Prowler in the Yard have been afforded, mainstays Scott Hull and J.R. Hayes still have demons requiring aural exorcism. For his work in both Pig Destroyer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed alone, Hull should be lauded as one of most important figures in modern extreme metal.

And the master is in fine form on Head Cage. Like Book Burner and Phantom Limb, Hull and his boys take grindcore as the driving engine and liberally apply thrash, hardcore, groove, noise and sludge, and hone it down to a finely tuned killing instrument. Applying elements from such a harsh palette and the occasional obscure sample creates vicious numbers like ‘Circle River’ that somehow emerges as a catchy tune mainly due to a series of riffs Mastodon wouldn’t mind borrowing. ‘The Last Song’ is another sonic mindfuck with its gooey bass lines being interrupted by passages of guitar noise and Adam Jarvis’ double kick explosions. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hull approved album if songs like ‘Mt. Skull’ didn’t pack in 400 different guitar parts in a sub two-minute structure.

Even when Pig Destroyer decides to take the long way home like on album closer ‘House of Snakes’ nary does a note or cymbal feel unneeded or out of place. What I can compare it to is when vintage Metallica wrote slower numbers like ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ or ‘Fade to Black.’ As much they played with dynamics and shade, it is molten metal running through those jams.

We don’t deserve Pig Destroyer. Even after twenty years and no real dip in quality the band chooses to march forward and to create new art in defiance of fickle fanbases and changing trends.