Book Burner is a lean, mean, grinding machine. It clocks in at just over half an hour which is a little short for most albums, but after getting the shit beaten out of your ears for 32 minutes straight Pig Destroyer style, you couldn't fathom listening to any more, but for some reason, you want to. That's the magic of Book Burner, it's long enough to sufficiently pummel you into the dust, but just short enough to make you cry for more.
"So what's so great about Book Burner, David?" you ask. Well let me tell you, reader. Book Burner is a fucking monster of an album. Pig Destroyer swapped out drummer Brian Harvey for one Mr. Adam Jarvis of Misery Index fame. Both Harvey and Jarvis are fantastic drummers, but where they differ is that where Harvey could unleash a blistering flurry of blasts and thrash beats (and his phenomenal solo on Prowler), Jarvis can groove much better. Book Burner is Pig Destroyer at their most invigorating, because when Jarvis and guitarist Scott Hull lock into a groove together, holy fuck, mountains crumble.
Starting at 1:34 is the sound of all your insides ejecting themselves out of your body at once.
Hull still stands tall as the master of riffage here. He has no shortage of both catchy melodic riffs and angular, head-fucky riffs, and knows just when to switch to which riff. Things mostly sway between fast and faster, but mid-paced sections crop up along the course of the album, with songs like "The Diplomat" and the first half of "Valley of Geysers". The only breathers are the electronics and samples that show up, but even then, you're still fully engulfed in the menacing and urgent atmosphere. For example, the transition between "White Lady" and "The Bug" had me shitting my pants in terror as the modulated voice of some old man was telling me he'd sing and dance on my corpse.
Pig Destroyer are using a fourth member and of course, it isn't a bassist. That would just be too logical. PxDx have re-enlisted Blake Harrison (he was on their 2007 album Phantom Limb) to cover electronics, sampling and ambiance duties. I'll be honest, other than the voice samples on "Sis", "Baltimore Strangler" and "The Bug" and the background fuzz on "White Lady" and "Valley of the Geysers", I can't hear many of electronics or background samples. The most noticeable is on "The Bug" where it sounds like a cross between a man screaming his lungs out and a power drill. Make of that what you will.
Despite all the awesome that Book Burner has to offer, there is only one flaw that keeps me from giving it a perfect score. Scott Hull might still be the king of riffs, but he dropped the ball on production here. Funnily enough, he messed up the production on his own instrument. J.R. Hayes' vocals are brutal as fuck and Jarvis' drums are expertly mixed, but Hull's guitar tone is just too thin for the classic Pig Destroyer sound. It's still a heavy and thick tone, but on Book Burner, you can really hear the lack of bassist in the mix, where usually Hull is able to fill up those low end frequencies with his tone and production sorcery. There is however, a special edition of Book Burner which was specially mixed to sound the best when played out of large speakers at maximum volume, so maybe that version is where all the bass frequencies have gone. I've already pre-ordered the album a month ago, and I should receive it soon, so I'll let you guys know what it's like.
Bomb-Ass Tracks: Valley of the Geysers, Machiavellian The Bug, Burning Palm
On a Playlist With: Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Wormrot, Misery Index
What can I say. Pig Destroyer have dropped another beast of an album. Any fan of grindcore, hardcore, or death metal (maybe even thrash metal) can find something to bang their heads to on Book Burner. Reflecting back on the match-up I made between Book Burner and Converge's All We Love We Leave Behind, I'm honestly torn between the two albums, but I do know for a fact, both will end up on my year end list of my favorite albums of 2012. You can give all of Book Burner a (legal) listen for free here.
That's all for now, folks! I will sing while you croak. I will dance over your dirty corpse.