If you were to look upon a piece of fine art, and later fall asleep entering a nightmare based upon the imagery of that painting or sculpture, Pig Destroyer would undoubtedly be the sounds of your dreams. With their latest release, Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer has again proved to be one of the few acts in extreme music that the word “art” completely applies to. The new album is able to further their status of being a rather “uniquely” artistic act within such a heavy genre, while allowing the band a bit more room to push themselves creatively.
Musically, the album moves along the lines that you might be expecting: frantic, pulse-raising drums, more (and better) guitar riffs than you, me, or Kerry King could ever hope to be writing, and vocals that sound tortured (in the most literal sense). Essentially, this album does stay within whatever box you wish to place it; but be warned, throughout its 38-minute running time, Pig Destroyer take that box and violently stretch its walls it into a living creature, curving any straight line you may have thought to put against them.
Scott Hull’s guitar lines start to vary; during “Heathen Temple” the middle has a bit of a “bounce” to it. The band itself step away from writing incredibly short songs when “Heathen Temple” reaches a time of 3:30, and “Loathsome” clocks in at 4:04...you know, the time any normal pop song might span. Lyrically, J. R. Hayes takes each song one at time, unlike predecessor Terrifyer, but still delivers awe-inspiring lyrics. Pushing his way further from what you might expect, there are two “love” songs on Phantom Limb, and the anti-misogyny of “The Machete Twins,” which takes the girls off of Hayes lyrical chopping board, placing the knives in their hands for a change. There is also the addition of a fourth member to Pig Destroyer on Phantom Limb: Blake Harrison comes to the tables as (fittingly) a noise man. His presence is unfortunately missed throughout most of the album. Hull described the situation of his late arrival in the band as such in an interview with Decibel Magazine: “His part will evolve into something more substantial, but right now we’re just developing it slowly.” However, there are a few choice moments of subtle undertones and whispers here and there.
As much as Pig Destroyer does push their own compositional limits on Phantom Limb, they are also very busy doing what they do best. Once the album begins, the band does not give you a chance to catch your breath until the end of “Lesser Animal,” Track 6, with (what could be from Blake Harrison) a sampled preacher recounting dragging a burn victim from a fire, with vivid words and delivery (probably not the break you were looking for); from this point on Pig Destroyer sprint towards the final, seven-minute untitled track. This track is not a song, but more of a soundscape (think "Natasha"); while it does not hurt the album at all (it is the last track), it is not necessary to enjoy the album either.
Much like another extreme band that are looked on as artists, Pig Destroyer take care with their album art. John Baizley’s art work does not disappoint, bringing consumers Pig Destroyer’s second album cover in a row to feature bare breasts. All in all, the CD package is beautifully done, and between Hayes’ lyrics and the art, it is definitely worth owning. Without trying to figure out which are my favorite lines, I have to say this album brings some of J. R. Hayes’ finest work; the body of work he has produced leaves me hoping he finally gets around to publish some short stories/books soon.
With the album artwork, the lyrics, and the frantic music put together, this album comes out as hands down the best extreme release so far this year. If grindcore or any other sort of extreme metal has ever peaked your interest, this is a fine album to start with; just don’t except to top it soon.