ALBUM REVIEW: Pig Destroyer – Head Cage

Release Date: September 7th 2018
Label: Relapse Records
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With their sixth full-length ‘Head Cage’, grindcore titans Pig Destroyer have decided to bypass what’s expected of them to deliver a collection of brutal songs with unexpected turns.

Commencing with ‘Tunnel Under The Tracks’, sampler Blake Harrison takes us on a sonic journey through a spoken word disclaimer accompanied with a swing motif. Before there’s time to anticipate where this may be leading us to, Bruno Nicolai influenced strings are met with a collage of screams and warped growls to bring back the stark reminder that this is undoubtedly a Pig Destroyer record.

The most startling change for this offering has to be the inclusion of space. Whilst there are still plenty of fast tempo riffs peppered throughout the record, guitarist and producer Scott Hull has added something new to their arsenal.

Most notably, tracks such as ‘Army Of Cops’ and ‘The Torture Fields’ center around bluesy grooves as their groundwork, shifting from chaotic punk changes to chugging mid tempo riffs to keep us constantly on our toes.

With the addition of John Jarvis, the group finally has a bassist, and that presence is certainly capitalised as a prime focus on ‘The Last Song’. By having a distorted bass line drive the song, it not only adds more dynamics to the album but highlights another direction for the band.

The group don’t lose their focus for a moment, with ‘Trap Door Man’ and ‘Concrete Beast’ acting as prominent reminders of just how well they can craft a devastating listening experience. This is in the most part courtesy of drummer Adam Jarvis, who provides plenty of pummeling blast beats and dizzying cymbal accents.

‘Concrete Beast’ also boasts guest vocals from Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s own Kat Katz, adding a throat shredding back and forth with J.R. Hayes‘ gutturals. Indeed, Hayes‘ delivery just doesn’t let up throughout, commanding us to pay attention with his frenzied growls.

When faced with the length of closer and standout track ‘House Of Snakes’, those familiar with Pig Destroyer could expect something akin to the 2008 experimental release, ‘Natasha’. Instead, what we’re greeted with is an uncompromising and relentless epic. From whiplash inducing drums to claustrophobic vocals, the track is devastatingly heavy.

Throughout the just over thirty-minute runtime of ‘Head Cage’, we’re shown everything that Pig Destroyer has been, what it is, and what it can be.