Pig Destroyer versus the world
For years, Pig Destroyer has been one of the bigger and more influential acts in grindcore. That may seem like a funny title to hold; grindcore is mostly bombastic ruptures of fierce progressions and fairly difficult to decipher lyrics. The Virginia fivesome has come to fully develop their own sound over the last 20 years of their career. On Head Cage, the band’s first album in six years, vocalist J.R. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull and company step even further outside the typical borderlines of grindcore as a style, incorporating elements of sludgy doom, technical death metal, punk and a bit of Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s sound (thanks to Hull) in a manner that still holds all the aggressive and sporadic energy grindcore provides, with an added burly and brutish nature.
Part of what drives Head Cage as an album is its loose thematic structure, taking the ills of the present Trump and societal reality and escalating them to their extremes. “Army of Cops” tells of the population’s lackadaisical contentment with the system, expressing distaste for most of its workings without taking the steps to change anything. Lyrics like “We’ve become the nation of victimization / Why can’t we admit we’re hypocrites? / Nobody likes our direction / Yet we don’t turn around” hit a little too close to home when reflecting on the world we live in.
Other tracks sneer at different problems with humankind. “Mt. Skull” is about the exploitation of nature until it’s destroyed, while “Terminal Itch” turns the idea of “live fast, die young” into the notion of living young and beautifully by any means necessary, postponing the inevitability of an ugly, rotting death. Hayes is transparent with his songwriting, taking no prisoners in the thoughts he’s trying to convey. The others members of Pig Destroyer aid him in this with thrash-meets-doom riffs (like in “The Torture Fields”) or with bass-driven grooves before onslaughts of blast beats (like on “Dark Train”).
Head Cage may not be a diehard grindcore enthusiasts dream like many consider their 2001 record Prowler in the Yard to be, but the ways it displays Pig Destroyer’s expansion as a band aren’t ones to go unappreciated.