Released: 2007, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
TERRIFYER was the apex of Pig Destroyer’s animalistic nihilism just two short years ago, so how does the Virginia trio top such a landmark release? With PHANTOM LIMB, of course! Bursting with all the hyperspeed grind of past releases but venturing further and further into a more groove-oriented approach, PHANTOM LIMB is frighteningly close to becoming—*GULP*—“accessible”?! For long-time fans, Pig Destroyer remains as unrelenting, unwavering and uncompromising as ever on PHANTOM LIMB but a good number of these tracks actually stick in your head with memorable riffs, groovy breakdowns and some really cool variations on the band’s patented death/grind/noise M.O.. J.R. Hayes’ twisted lyrics are as gruesome as ever, Scott Hull’s riffs bite like a pit of angry crocodiles and the inferno-like drumming of Brian Harvey will singe every hair off your body. The addition of Blake Harrison to the band’s lineup incorporates some electronics and samples that have always been present anyway. Hull’s production job is a much clearer one even than that of TERRIFYER, so while PHANTOM LIMB is hardly fodder for cries of “sell-out,” the PxDx faithful better get ready to play nice with the flood of new fans that will surely latch on to Pig Destroyer’s wagon this time around.
No one can dispute that Pig Destroyer can drop a all-leveling napalm attack with tracks like “Rotten Yellow,” “Deathtripper” and “Loathsome,” all of which strike fast and hard. J.R. Hayes’ distorted growls and throat-shredding hollers drip with hatred and are borderline scary, while the whirlwind drumming of Brian Harvey consumes everything in its path. It’s what sets Pig Destroyer apart from the death/grind pack on tracks like “Thought Crime Spree” and “Heathen Temple,” though, which really cooks. Killer grooves interlaced with truly unforgettable riffs are delivered so flawlessly that its amazing the same band is responsible. Anyone can be skull-crushingly heavy and a catchy riff doesn’t take a genius either but to combine the two—and make it work—is exceptionally rare. Likewise, Pig Destroyer has proven it can go full-throttle with their eyes closed but mixing up tempos on “Girl In The Slayer Jacket” is discombobulating while the blasts of aggression on the title track hit like bombs going off. An untitled track that closes PHANTOM LIMB is positively unsettling by being minimalist and utilizing ambience. With Ray Price’s “I’ve Got A New Heartache” playing softly in the background from what sounds like an old AM car radio, the sound of crickets chirping mesmerize for nearly seven minutes and listeners are kept waiting for…something…to jolt them out of their seats. Brilliant. Of course, part of Pig Destroyer’s charm lies in the darkly twisted lyrics of Hayes. Whether lamenting the suicide of a teenage friend in “Girl In The Slayer Jacket” (“Her eyes had been dead since she was five/She just hadn't disposed of her body”), mental health in “Lesser Animal” (“Got no use for psychiatry/I can talk to the voices in my head for free”), religion in “Heathen Temple” (Spare me your fear/All these childish superstitions/I've spent decades trying to purge your swill from my system”) or serial killing in “The Machete Twins” (“They got cornered last year in a Nashville hotel/The girls had to chop a whole S.W.A.T. team to pieces”), Hayes’ words are a madman’s poetic muse.
With PHANTOM LIMB, Pig Destroyer has created the musical equivalent of getting punched in the face repeatedly for thirty-nine minutes. The results are painful, exhausting and adrenaline-fuelled but oddly exhilarating at the same time. It is hard to name a better band that defines all that extreme metal has to offer and Pig Destroyer only gets better over time. Disturbing, violent, thought-provoking and visceral all at once, get PHANTOM LIMB. Get it now.
KILLER KUTS: “Rotten Yellow,” “Deathtripper,” “Thought Crime Spree,” “Lesser Animal,” “Phantom Limb,” “Loathsome,” “Heathen Temple,” “Girl In The Slayer Jacket”