Review Summary: "This is disgusting, it's pornography" exclaimed a pasty slut white woman in a fur coat, vanilla ice-cream smeared across her double chin like a money shot.
Since the release of Prowler in the Yard
in 2001, Pig Destroyer has been a household name to grind fans for well over a decade. Prowler
was instantly recognized as pure, unadulterated chaos and perfection of the genre. 2004's Terrifyer
continued the trend as well as including the absolutely monstrous Natasha
on a bonus disc. Both releases were concept albums, now hailed as classics, with lyrics that could double as sick poetry. 2007 saw Pig Destroyer reaching into a more death metal and groove approach with Phantom Limb
and had longer tracks with more conventional structuring. What does 2012 bring us? Shorter song structures but not necessarily a return to old form.
Pig Destroyer has always seemed to struggle with production values. Terrifyer
found itself under produced and Phantom Limb
found itself over produced. Fortunately for both of those albums, the music was of such high quality that it was easy to ignore the production flaws. Book Burner
finds itself in a difficult situation. The production is absolutely weak and flat in every aspect, but so is the music that goes with it. It muffles J.R. Hayes' Vocals and dulls Scott Hull's riffs.
begins with the typical intro sound clip, courtesy of the immensely useless Blake Harrison on electronics, before exploding into album opener Sis
with a laughable "Go!"
from vocalist J.R. Hayes. A few things are instantly apparent. First things first, Hayes sounds absolutely awful. Phantom Limb
found him using a slightly different vocal approach than the two albums prior to it and it worked well with the music. This time around, Hayes sounds rather burnt out. His delivery is noticeably strained and his lyrics almost indecipherable. Unfortunately, the lyrics too have taken an immense nose dive. They no longer read like sick poetry from a mad man's diary painting your mind vividly, but more like middle school attempts at being clever. Lines like "The rats are my companions, the roaches are my food. I'm underneath you. I'm the underground man."
from the Underground Man
and "we never ever change. we make the same mistakes. If you're gonna have roads, you're gonna have roadkill. That's the risk that it takes"
from the Diplomat
prove just how far the once genius mind of J.R. Hayes has decayed. Perhaps he spent one too many shows screaming without a microphone. He does find a few moments of brilliance such as on Baltimore Strangler
or the delivery of "I'm indomitable"
from Burning Palm
. These moments are so few and far between that they are almost made better by the fact that the music surrounding it is bland.
The imaginative riff machine that is Scott Hull puts forth little effort as most of his riffs come off as uninspired and lack any lasting value. It is widely known that Pig Destroyer have no bassist, other than Hull performing bass on the recording of Natasha
, and it still rings true on Book Burner
. Hull's tone is still as strong as ever despite the production's best attempts at tearing it down and Hull's own attempt at not playing any riffs worthwhile. On the drum kit is Adam Jarvis, of Misery Index fame, taking over after Brian Harvey's departure in 2010. Unfortunately, Adam Jarvis has monumentally large shoes to fill and he can't live up to Harvey's legacy. While technically sound, Jarvis doesn't compliment Hull's riffs in the same manner that Harvey did. Too often does he resort to your typical double bass fests and blast beats without any real emotion behind his playing besides "gotta go fast". Fourth member, Blake Harrison, was officially added to the lineup on Phantom Limb
and he may have had a few nice contributions here and there, the band was better off without acknowledging his existence. Harrison handles audio samples and general ambiance, but for the most part he adds absolutely nothing to Book Burner
and doesn't deserve a spot on the member credits.
Featuring 19 songs clocking in at 31 minutes, Book Burner
might give the impression of flying by. The first half of the album however just drags by at a dull pace. Oddly enough, the first 9 tracks will pass by in 11 minutes but feel like a lifetime. Not all is lost though, Book Burner
does feature it's small share of strengths as the later half of the album is undoubtedly stronger than the first half. Baltimore Strangler
is the beginning of this half, as well as being one of the second longest and strongest tracks. The three tracks clocking in over 3 minutes, Baltimore Strangler, The Bug
, and killer closer Permanent Funeral
are the real highlights of the album. Featuring crushing riffs inspired by hardcore, thrash and death metal, these songs are more reminiscent from the earlier works.
Had there not been five long years between the release of Phantom Limb
and Book Burner
, this regression may have been understandable. As it is now, the band obviously put more effort into one half of the album over the other and should have considered shaving off most of the first 9 tracks instead of half assing a full length. Unfortunately, it seems like front man Hayes has lost his sound and poetic side and the band just isn't up to par to back him with inspired instrumentation. This is certainly not beautiful and certainly not art.