Pig Destroyer ‎– Book Burner -CD


Generally, I like my music to be technical, precise, and complicated. However, there's one genre in particular, that this doesn't apply to. In its very nature, grindcore is simplistic, and it's meant to be. The approach of it is very honest: Be as fast and abrasive as possible in as little time as possible. That's really all Napalm Death and their contemporaries did, and while acts like Discordance Axis and Gridlink have done considerably technical things in the genre, their work still retains that stripped-down aesthetic that is usually expected.

Since their initial inception, Pig Destroyer have been one of the most popular bands of the genre, churning out choice cuts of catchy and quick grinds and riffs. Originally very similar to guitarist Scott Hull's other project Agoraphobic Nosebleed, adhering to the standard grindcore formula, with each release, Pig Destroyer became increasingly more experimental, and increasingly more uncharacteristic of grindcore itself. The production quality gradually improved, and the instrumentation and song structures became increasingly more complicated, almost teetering on the technical death metal side of things. Many fans have welcomed these changes over the years, but others have been much more apprehensive, feeling as though the band has lost the charm and the grindcore flavor that made them appealing in the first place. I'm personally among the former. I like the simple idea of grindcore, but it's an oversaturated genre, especially in recent years. Nearly every release in the genre is a rehash of something that's been done better. Amongst all of this, Pig Destroyer continue to progress, and this progression is no more evident than on Book Burner.

At the time I'm writing this, Book Burner is the most recent full-length release of Pig Destroyer, and thus far, it's the height of their progression. In keeping with previous releases by Pig Destroyer and in the genre overall, the tracks are very short. With the exception of five of the album's nineteen tracks, every track is less than two minutes, with the two shortest tracks both clocking in at forty-two seconds long. Despite the overall brevity of the tracks, each individual track is incredibly well-written and blisteringly technical. The riffing is as fast and screechy as ever, but it's well-structured and never feels random or arbitrary. The percussion is fast and precise, almost in a way that sounds robotic, but there's never a shortage of interesting rhythms going on. JR Hayes continues to belt out his vocal parts like a caged animal, and his voice seems to have gotten deeper and more rugged with age. The album is superbly produced, rendering each instrument crystal clear, making the dissonant harmonies of layered guitar tracks easier to pick up on, as well as giving the precise blast beats and double bass drum sections more of a punch.

With that said, can this album still be categorized as grindcore? Is Book Burner the overproduced work of a band that has become nothing but a group of sellouts and hacks? Some seem to think so, but I'd argue that it's just the opposite. Genre labeling is a great way of figuring out what you, the listener, likes and dislikes, but slapping a label on something, anything, can give you certain expectations. Perhaps, the people who dislike this album judge it based on their own preconceived notions of what grindcore should be, rather than the content itself. Who says a genre should have strict rules? Experimentation and progression are half the fun of the creative process. Moreover, why should a genre like grindcore have such strict rules? It's a genre built almost solely on speed, brutality, and brevity. Even between these three elements, there's still a considerable amount of wiggle room to tread new ground with. I believe this album still fits the already broad criteria of grindcore, while also going beyond the conventions of the genre. It's short and sweet, but it's also challenging. It's catchy, but it's also complex. It's abrasive, but it's also meticulous. It embodies its genre so well, yet it also completely subverts it, and that's what makes it so damn brilliant.