Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Album Review: Pig Destroyer - "Prowler in the Yard"

You know how for people who don't listen to metal, bands like Slayer, Children of Bodom and Cannibal Corpse make them shit their pants in fear? Well, Pig Destroyer (a.k.a. Piggy D, or PxDx) is one of those bands that make even the most hardcore Slayer fan shit their pants in fear. Piggy D recently announced a new album to be released this fall (it's definitely not coming out for like, another 5 years, but a man can dream, can't he?), so to recognize one of the most lauded modern era grindcore bands I'm going to dive into what is commonly seen as their magnum opus from 2001 and the benchmark for nausea-inducing grind, Prowler in the Yard.

If you're squeamish, try not to look to closely at the album cover.

Pig Destroyer have been kicking around for 15 years, and they've got 4 studio albums under their belt because apparently they hate being reasonable about the amount of time between releasing albums. You've got to give them credit, because five years after their last album, Phantom Limb, people are still holding their breath for a new album. Prowler era PxDx was a power trio, consisting of vocalist J. R. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull and drummer Brian Harvey. You might notice that there's no bassist in the band. Well, you'd be right. Pig Destroyer doesn't have any bassist. Not a studio bassist, not a live bassist, or even a session or guest bassist. Bass (usually) isn't too prominent in extreme metal nowadays, but for a crusty grindcore band like Pig Destroyer, having a thick distorted bass pounding away adds a lot to the sound.

This lack of low end is remedied almost completely by the amazing production skills of Scott Hull, who before PxDx, was a member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and A.C. (I'm not going to put down the whole band name. Even I have some standards) and has been doing production work for grind bands since the mid 90s. This feat is even more impressive when you learn that Prowler was recorded on an 8-track in Harvey's basement. I really feel like this, for lack of a better word, primitive way of recording was the best choice for an album like Prowler. It's raunchy, it's filthy, and it makes you want to take a shower afterwards.

Scott Hull playing with (or trying to eat) his wife and kids.
Three paragraphs in, and I haven't even gotten to the music. So. Prowler is a nice slab of some motherfucking grind. Not only is it grind, but there are some really unexpected twists and turn on this album as well. At it's core, this release is a vicious monster. It's aggressive as all hell. Sometimes it becomes such a chaotic clusterfuck that you feel like your CD is going to spin right out of your player. Hayes' vocals are the kind that can scare Slenderman into hiding by barking, screeching and screaming his way through the album. Harvey's drumming is something fantastic as well. He handles standard grindcore blast beats and thrash beats like any other drummer, but his ability to play more varied types of rhythms and beats and make it flow and fit with the music is what really makes him stand out. Let's not forget his mesmerizing drum solo at the end of "Hyperviolet", either. Hull contributes a lot to make this album stand out as well. In a genre as fast and furious as grind, it's really tough to create catchy or memorable songs. Hull clearly doesn't give a fuck, and I have no idea how he does it but he's able to pen some of the most catchy, memorable and headbangable grind riffs I've ever heard.

Prowler in the Yard goes between two different speeds. Full on grind, and a sort of toned down, sludgy, doomy grind. If the latter doesn't make any sense, think of EyeHateGod style sludge with some of the frantic qualities of grindcore tossed in. The intro to the album, "Jennifer" is probably the creepiest track I've ever heard, with Microsoft Sam telling us how different people can see different things as art, via a story about two girls wrestling in public when one starts to eat the other one's eyes. I want you to realize that last sentence was the toned down and somewhat censored version of the story.

I'm sorry for that. Here's an adorable bunny.
After "Jennifer", a torrential downpour of grind starts. 17 tracks of unrelenting fury shoot off in a row, with some of the tracks blending in with each other. The longest track of the grind section clocks in at 1:46 and the shortest runs for about 18 seconds. Yup. Welcome to grindcore. Starting on track 19, we enter the doomy-sludgy-grind section, with things loosening up a bit. The 4 songs here average out at 4 and a half minutes in length (longest being almost 8 and the shortest being almost 2). The first song of this section, "Hyperviolet" is only 3 and a half minutes long, but man, it seems like an eternity after that barrage of breakneck speed songs.

I've got to admit, the second half of Prowler contains my favorite songs on the album. The first half is great if you're in the mood for some pure grind, but the longer songs give Pig Destroyer's musical ideas time to grow and expand. Everything culminates into the final track, "Piss Angel" which contains my favorite sludgy riff on the album, blistering grind, and an outro featuring Microsoft Sam again which turns out as creepy and even more disgusting as "Jennifer". Scratch what I said earlier about "Jennifer" being the creepiest. The very long fading outro of "Piss Angel" with guitar feedback and a little girl singing in the background makes my skin crawl.

Also, did I mention this is a concept album? It follows the thoughts of the demented and twisted main character (definitely not a protagonist) who stalks people for fun.

Here's another bunny for good measure.

On a Playlist With: Agoraphobic Nosebleed, A.C., Wormrot

Overall Score


Prowler in the Yard is definitely a force to be reckoned with. It's like an audiobook of a serial killer's diary. The music will definitely appeal to hardcore grind fans, but because my taste in grindcore is still developing, some of the album (specifically earlier on) gets a bit tedious to listen to, despite Scott Hull's rifftastic guitar playing. I do have to note that the second half of the album pretty much makes up for the first, and has something to offer any fan of sludge or filthy death metal.

That's all for now, folks!

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