Pig Destroyer has largely been dismissed as a simple, if above average, grindcore band, and
they've certainly been unfairly pigeonholed by their speed and intensity as being an enjoyable but unimportant act. And while their previous Relapse release Prowler in the Yard saw the band begin to escape from the confines of
grindcore - silly cover art aside - their new release Terrifyer completes the transition into a new category (avant-grind, post-grind?), occupied by a tiny group of peers like the extraordinary and inaccessible arty excess of Discordance Axis and the hardcore-tinged and political affectations of Nasum.
While the band's earliest works (captured conveniently on the lo-fi 38 Counts Of Battery) mostly focused on blast beats and screaming - the two pillars of the genre, Terrifyer eschews those conventions and incorporates a more dirty, punk-inflected sound with their rapid fire assault. The band itself seems hesitant to describe themselves as grindcore, or even metal, as the vocalist explains that "I have always considered us a punk band or a hardcore band" and nowhere is that more evident than throughout Terrifyer, which seems to take much from Stooges-style punk rock and old school thrash.
Despite the gore-inflected cover art displayed on the bands two full-lengths - which may unfortunately cause some to dismiss the band as another horribly contrived gore-grind act - the band's lyrical focus is far more literary, if a little depraved. Taking the same lyrical focus as covered on Converge's Jane Doe and injecting it with a little more psychologically-disturbing imagery, the "black romanticism" of the words certainly add an unforeseen depth to the proceedings.
Unlike many bands in related genres who seem to take some sort of joy in subjecting us to electronically downtuned growls which sound more like a belch with lyrics than a musical accompaniment, vocalist JR Hayes layers more human, emotionally ravaged vocals over the stripped down, but nonetheless powerful accompaniment of Scott Hull's seven strings and drummer John Evans. Put another way, he sounds like he's in pain, not a trash compactor.
It is also worth mentioning the included DVD audio track "Natasha," which runs longer than the entire record, and is provided in a engrossing 5.1 surround mix. The track focuses on a more ambient, cinematic structure and while not worth a purchase in and of itself, it certainly shows a different, introspective and restrained side of the band.
While I find most of Pig Destroyer's peers to be pretty laughable - what with their cookie monster vocals and speed for the sake of speed - Terrifyer is a forward thinking, aggressive record that doesn't need a relentless assault of blast beats to define itself. A cohesive, interesting release that will hopefully prove to be both influential and acclaimed.
Terrifyer ecard with two tracks