Grindcore monsters Pig Destroyer return with fiery, self-destructive ‘Book Burner’

I’m pretty sure Pig Destroyer need no introduction, cutesy opening, or correlation to my life or yours. We know what they are and who they are. They are violence, art, misogyny, humiliation, and true human terror all rolled into one, and their run has been both astonishing and frightening.

Having a chance to see the band in your town is pretty rare (unless you live near the Baltimore/DC area … or Japan), and they seem to operate on an agenda most bands would find foreign and sketchy. They show up when they want, bulldoze your senses, then go away. The band shapes and shifts, tries on new approaches, burns their own shit to the ground, goes again. Frontman/lyricist J.R. Hayes has a reputation — deserved or not — of penning women-hating, sexual, violent lyrics that, if turned into a script, would get that film banned from theaters. This is not for the weak of heart, and even if you find yourself getting lost in the band’s thrashy grindcore assault, you’ll be jarred awake by what Hayes is shouting in your ears.

Pig Destroyer never have been a band that’s been terribly prolific with their studio output. Ever since the band put out their debut “Explosion in Ward 6” in 1998, they’ve only hit us back four more times with long players. I can’t imagine they’d work very effectively under a model so many other labels operate, in that you need to have that new product out for the holidays to maximize on sales. They’d laugh at that. Instead, we’re made to wait until they’re ready, which is how it should be anyway. It’s taken them five years to follow up 2007’s killer “Phantom Limb” with their new platter “Book Burner” (2008’s bizarre, largely ambient “Natasha” doesn’t count), so expectations were sky high for this thing. What a lost art — building anticipation for a record.

Since 2007, Pig Destroyer have gone through a personnel change. Longtime drummer Bryan Harvey left the fold, and in his place is Misery Index kit immolator Adam Jarvis. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull, and programmer Blake Harrison all remain. Also, you will notice there is no bass whatsoever on “Book Burner,” something some people find a little odd for the less-meaty low end. At first, I also had a difficult time fully immersing myself in the songs for that reason, but as time has gone on, and I’ve listened to the record more and more, that’s pretty much gone away. The songs are heavy and relentless, and their overall savagery becomes the thing standing at the forefront, with bloody knuckles and blackened eyes.

Another thing longtime fans will notice is that “Book Burner” sounds more like a classic Pig Destroyer record. There is a litany of short songs all strung together, as the line often blurs as to where things begin and end. That’s always something the band did so seamlessly, and even as they went a little conventional on “Phantom Limb” and put together longer, more ambitious songs, it lacked that “whack-whack-whack” the band’s albums typically have. So it’s cool to have that aspect back.

You’ll notice right away the immediacy of this album and its sinister intent. “Sis” blows right open, taking on a start-stop tempo that should shake the cobwebs from your brain. Then it’s right into “The American’s Head” and “The Underground Man,” both of which are fast, relentless, and thrashy. And over before you know it. “Eve” is doomy and foreboding, with regular guest screamer Katherine Katz on vocals as she shrieks her heart out, and that takes us into “The Diplomat,” a mathy, chunky song that is gruff and unforgiving, but also scathing and damning of human nature, especially with the line, “We never change, we make the same mistakes.” “Valley of Geysers” is drowning in static and noise and sounds like something off “Terrifyer,” while the title cut blasts and bleeds into “Machiavellian.”

Eerie “Baltimore Strangler” opens with a poem typically associated with addiction, before Hayes launches into his most violent tirade on the entire album. “White Lady” melts into a fury, then it’s into “The Bug,” which opens with a reading from the band’s go-to author Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” that’s reminiscent of “Jennifer” from “Prowler in the Yard.” The vocals are gruff, Katz rejoins the fray, and it’s one of the best pieces on the whole record. “Burning Palm” has visions on self-mutilation and is a scorching, jerky, weird song, “Totaled” is bizarre and wacky, and “Kamikaze Heart” sounds like what its title entails. It’s complete, utter violence.

Waiting five years is a necessary evil in Pig Destroyer fandom, but when they come up with something this incendiary and poisonous, you know the long stretch of time away from the band has been worth it. These guys show no signs of calming down, no indications of pulling punches, and no interest in cleaning up the blood on their hands. You might be offended, you’ll probably be disturbed, but make no mistake, you’ll be battered with some of the most aggressive, vitriolic punishment you’ve faced in a long time.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here: