Review Summary: Terrifyer is the bridge between Prowler In the Yard and Phantom Limb. It consists of brutality, groove and speed and consistently impresses. Plus, its a bridge that can be walked over time and time again.
I'm sure that the majority of people whom are actively aware of the genre of music that is grindcore are also aware of Pig Destroyer. Amongst the many grindcore acts coming out of America, they are one of the most respected and consistent, seemingly delivering with every album. Now I'm trying to not be too biased here and I'm probably going to fail miserably. But as far as I'm concerned there probably isn't another band who can do what Pig Destroyer do - certainly not as well as them anyhow. Their third major release, Terrifyer, could be described as the bridge between Prowler In the Yard and Phantom Limb. In terms of sound and presentation, Terrifyer employs aspects found in both it's predecessor and successor - a blend of supreme, uncompromising brutality and all the trademark elements that make the band who they are, such as the groove riffs of Hull, precise and complex drumming of Harvey and the pure anger and spit of JR Hayes' vocals. All of these are neatly wrapped up into what appears to be a concept similar to that of Prowler In the Yard. Terrifyer is a trip through the darkest depths of a psychotic's mind and his obsession over a girl. But don't let that put you off (it didn't put me off at all really, I must be sick or something) as those who don't rummage through the lyrics are unlikely to recognise the disturbing lyrical concepts JR Hayes presents to us. Nevertheless, they are disturbing - as is pretty much every aspect of this album.
Terrifyer opens up with the obligatory intro track - creatively titled Intro. However, rather than a simple open power chord chugged riff it's a sample. Footsteps, the sound of water dripping, heavy breathing...and then a blood curdling scream. Welcome to total aural annihilation is all I can say - the intro flows perfectly into Pretty In Casts, a downright nasty display of buzzsaw like riffs, insane drumming and a truly sick vocal performance. After the initial shock of this, you'll seen acquaint yourself with what Pig Destroyer do best - senselessly raping your ears. Right off the bat, it's clear that Hull has honed his riffwriting since the days of Prowler In the Yard. Everything on Terrifyer displays a lot more groove, particularly in the riffs but also in some areas of the drumming. Brian Harvey is a monstrous drummer, employing a wild plethora of intricate beats and complex fills - he can switch instantly from a blastbeat to a varied backing for Hull's tightly constructed guitar work and so much more. If you've managed to sustain your eardrums until the middle riff of Pretty In Casts, then be prepared to be slightly surprised. [i]"Is that a breakdown?"]/i]. It depends on your perception of the word - there certainly isn't any half tempo simplistic chugging, just an absolute beast of a riff. Its probably as close to a breakdown the band have gotten to as of yet - this is the clear sign that they have progressed significantly since PITY and began to take more influence from the realms of hardcore and death metal.
Boy Constrictor further emphasises this point - groove aplenty, the track reels you in with a stop start riff that might not even be out of place in a Meshuggah song, before assaulting you with some truly frightening speed and musicianship. All the while, Hayes is belting his lungs out - he is slightly more understandable on Terrifyer than previously. Gone are the wild vocal fluctuations from death grunts to shrieks and such. Here (and more evidently on Phantom Limb) he focuses on his mid range. Its a little hard to classify what his vocal technique is. I'd say somewhere in between a shout and a scream but who am I to know. Lyrically, Boy Constrictor goes to show just what a fantastic lyricist JR is.
"Dopesick, for your sympathy, I'm a cold slithering monster haunting, your holy footsteps, forever...
I'm pretty certain that if I came out with something like that to my ex girlfriend she'd endeavour to have a a restraining order placed on me. Nevertheless, JR's poetic genius is displayed brilliantly throughout the whole of Terrifyer, from start to finish. Coupled with his genuinely frantic and angry vocal delivery, its the perfect combination. The same could be said for the way that Hull and Harvey work - everything seems to interlock effortlessly. Gravedancer is a definite hark back to the band's crust punk influences, employing a catchy riff and some less harsh vocals. Yet the way that Harvey's speedy fills interweave with Hull's guitar is rather marvelous - if you're thinking of checking the band out, I'd say this is definitely the song to go with.
Terrifyer holds host to some brilliant individual tracks. But as a whole, the way the album flows is also noteworthy. Every track has clearly been placed where it would fit nowhere else - reading through the lyric booklet simply affirms this, as the lyrics could almost be read as a story. A rather grim one at that but name me one instance where Pig Destroyer have written a song with what the masses regard as nice lyrical matter? Thumbsucker is a real treat for grindcore fans. The opening guitar riff could easily incite a riot. Coupled with both the drumming and vocals, it could more than easily incite full blown chaos. Another breakdown-esque riff features - not quite a full breakdown but after you've heard JR scream she whispers such sweet death threats in my daydreams
you can't help but let yourself be pummelled by the blastbeat section that follows.
Not meaning to make the album sound less impressive than it is, Terrifyer continues in standard Pig Destroyer fashion. Compact grindcore songs, showcasing clear hardcore and death metal influences, with great musicianship, groove and replay value. But I wouldn't leave it at that - each track has its own character if you will. It isn't too hard to differentiate between tracks, unlike 38 Counts of Battery. Towering Flesh is easily the most diverse track here, showcasing some clean (yet eerie as hell) guitar during the middle section and a blistering solo. It also wins the award for best lyrics. i won't clutter the review by providing them in here but seriously, look them up. Even those with no penchant for extreme music should appreciate the wonderfully dark yet original way Hayes conveys his thoughts.
With a lot of albums, the intensity wavers towards the middle end/end of the album. Well, Terrifyer certainly doesn't let up. The middle end of the album holds host to some of the best tracks on the album. Restraining Order Blues and Carrion Fairy couldn't be any more groovy if they tried - Hull really outdoes himself here, particularly on the latter, with a chorus riff that will embed itself in your skull and feed off your brain for days to come. The end of album also doesn't disappoint - Crawl of Time is a fu
cking brutal attack, with an opening fill/blastbeat and scream that will send shivers down your spine. The section near the end of the song also shows just how damn fast Harvey can use his double bass pedals. Even more impressive is the fact that he doesn't use triggers - utterly inhumane. The title track is also another very diverse track for the band - the introduction hints at a darker, more ethereal influence. Before you know it though, you're thrust headfirst into carnage, as Hull's patient yet menacing guitar riffs slice through your speakers.
As a whole, Terrifyer is one of the most complete albums I own. Excluding the intro, Pig Destroyer have crafted what I consider to be twenty practically flawless songs. Every track oozes with it's own character - indeed, some are better than others but there definitely isn't any filler on here. Scott Hull also really outdid himself in terms of production as well - guitars are truly brutal, drums are punishing and the vocals are about as raw and frightening as you get. Theres also subtle use of effects on JR's voice - Lost Cause being a prime example of this. Put simply, everything on this album is (in slightly childish terms) awesome. Thirty two minutes and seventeen seconds of completely unadulterated brutality. As an extreme music fan, how can you deny the chance to be totally obliterated?
Pretty In Casts
Restraining Order Blues
Crawl of Time