Review Summary: A great little collection of songs from one of the most brutal grindcore acts to ever come out of the scene. A must have for hardcore fans and well worth a look for those casual listeners out there.
B-Sides compilations and collections are notorious for being disappointing for the most part. For example, System of a Down's third studio album, Steal This Album, was essentially a number of songs not used in the album's prior to it's release. For some, it was a great album, solid in every respect. But for the majority of others, it was a letdown, simply because the quality of the songs didn't reflect the band's ability that was shown on previous releases. However, some bands just pump a lot of songs out and the actual quality of what is produced remains at a steady constant. Porcupine Tree is a good example of this; Insignificance is a perfectly relevant set of demos and such that were cuts or prototypes of songs present on Signify. Perhaps it was just fluke that the album was of a similar caliber to the rest of the band's work but it might just be that time after time, quality songs are produced.
So, here we have Pig Destroyer's wonderfully titled b-sides compilation, Painter of Dead Girls, released pretty near to when their third studio album Terrifyer was put out. The album is a mix of new and old songs from previous splits and such, as well as three covers of bands that Pig Destroyer consider to be an influence. I was slightly skeptical about how this would sound - whether it would be kind of like the muddy, ridiculously brutal demos found on 38 Counts of Battery (which were enjoyable, don't get me wrong) or if the band had produced something that would mirror their efforts on either Prowler In the Yard or Terrifyer. Well, neither thesis applies really. As soon as Hymn cuts in, the average Pig Destroyer fan knows they're in for a slightly different ride. The pace of the opening track is rather slow to start off, inevitably building up to a climax of blistering speed, brutal riffs and inconceivably angry vocals. Hull's riffs are still top quality - it's evident the guy really does crap great riff after great riff out of his arse without really breaking a sweat. The following four songs are pretty much all the same deal - grindcore that is extremely heavy and extremely fast. Things do start to get a lot more interesting when the first cover track graces your ears.
Simply put, Pig Destroyer make a Dwarves song their own. It's a quick blast of punk delivered in all it's bloody glory. The real gems of this compilation sit quite neatly between the first cover and the remaining cover songs. Contagion is sixteen seconds of chaos - with a mesmerizing guitar riff and drumming that is just all over the place but somehow still coherent. Blank Dice is another short burst of energy, the opening guitar riff not dissimilar to that of Hyperviolet from Prowler in the Yard. However, one of the album's biggest highlights comes in the form of Blonde Prostitute. Lyrically and vocally, JR is on top of his game, as are his fellow hellraisers on guitar and drums respectively. The middle section of double bass is quite exceptional - truly preposterous speed and a guitar riff over the top that screams the term "wall of sound".
The remaining section of the album holds host to some of the band's not so exceptional, yet still interesting songs. However, it also holds some of what I think are the band's best songs. Rejection Fetish is a great showcase for Hull's riff wizardry and JR's manic vocal delivery. Dark Sattelites, a reworked version from a while ago (a demo for this song was also on 38 Counts of Battery) is pretty brutal, with the end section showing the band's more hardcore punk side immaculately well. But undoubtedly the highlights of the compilation come in the form of Forgotten Child and the title track. The former is quite possibly one of the band's best songs, beginning with a frantic introduction and quickly culminating into an unforgettable groove riff, complete with mind numbing pinch harmonics. The speed of the drumming and the ingenuity of the fills is most intriguing, all the while the track still pounding you with it's fierce and groovy riffs and the undeniably ferocious vocal performance of JR. Forgotten Child also holds host to some of JR's most poetic and brilliant lyrics - they're well worth looking up on the net if you're a fan of the band and want to find out what all the screaming is about. The latter is a lesson in speed, particularly for drummers - the opening drum fills get me every time I listen and the ensuing train of sound that comes crashing at you is akin to that of being beaten to death. Even if that doesn't sound appealing, I'd still recommend checking those two tracks out at least.
The album does end on a relatively high note, with two great cover songs, of The Stooges' Down in the Streets and Helmet's In the Meantime. Bass features in these (played by Hull I'm assuming) and the thick, sludgy riffs yet simple and catchy structure of the song definitely doesn't deter from the fact that the band can't take the song and make it their own. The solo is also executed supremely well and whilst the drumming may not be as interesting as when their grinding your face, the vocals are a pretty interesting facet. JR may not scream as irrationally but he still sounds as fierce as ever, with his cries of "come on" really grating at those tender eardrums. In the Meantime is a lot more in the vein of conventional metal and Pig Destroyer certainly pull it off well. Helmet's influence on the band can be seen in a huge number of Scott Hull's riff and he pays the band testament in his execution of the simple and groovy guitar riffs. JR's sounds pretty demonic - perhaps not that appealing to the majority but it works pretty well. All in all, Pig Destroyer show amply well that they can cover a wide range of bands and successfully pull it off without too many problems.
In conclusion, this is about as good as b-side compilations get. The original material on here is absolutely cracking and the reworked songs and demos are also well worth the price. Even the covers are really enjoyable, certainly interesting to observe how the band pull together such a wide range of influences from such a large number of genres. For hardcore fans of the band, it's a must own; for casual listeners of the genre, it's still well worth a look.
Painter of Dead Girls
Down in the Streets