Review Summary: Brutal. To be quite honest, that is all that needs to be said here.
Brutality. It is something that some humans crave subconsciously. It could even be said that many show their love for the disturbing, the bleak and the terrifying a bit too much. Well, whatever. What I am trying to get at is that Pig Destroyer are the kind of band that could satisfy the nightly bloodlust of the most twisted and deranged of serial killers. Their sound is the epitome of aural obliteration; a cacophony of destruction in the form of Scott Hull's 7-string guitar attack, Brian Harvey's unrelenting battery behind a drumkit and the vocal monstrosity that is JR Hayes. Pig Destroyer hit the scene way back when with their first EP entitled Explosions In Ward 6. After Relapse signed the band, this album was released (which includes all of the material Pig Destroyer had penned since their inception into the world of metal).
38 Counts of Battery is exactly what the title implies; grievous bodily harm aptly put into CD format. You know you are in for something different when you realise only 10 of the albums 38 tracks (yes, the album does have that name for a reason) go over the one minute mark. As soon as the disc starts spinning in your CD player, Pig Destroyer's primitive, undeveloped, yet oh-so signature sound hits you in the face like a sledgehammer. Walls of sound to be quite honest; and these walls might as well be made out of the hardest substances man can find. It would be difficult to do a track-by-track of the album - in fact, the idea itself sounds abysmal...
So I shall do my best to sum up the albums positive and negative points for you. Put simply, this isn't an album for fans of melody, progressive music or bands that write tunes to convey a wide array of emotions. Pig Destroyer pen extremely brutal grindcore; JR's voice (and his lyrics) convey the kind of anger associated with the truly psychotic individuals of this world. Blastbeats are aplenty and guitar riffs are scathing - at times you can actually feel your ears be slowly consumed by the rusty teeth of a chainsaw (metaphorically speaking, the guitars will buzz away at your brain until it is no more than a pulpy shadow of its former self.) Album opener Deflower is 28 seconds of pure insanity; a vocal effect introduces the song before the listener is pounded and beaten relentlessly. Vocally, JR sounds quite different on this release. As showcased on Phantom Limb, his style is more refined now - on 38 Counts he demonstrates just what awesome range he has. Low growls, death grunts, his trademark mid-range angry shout and some terrifying high vocal shenanigans are all in abundance throughout. Standout sludge-fest Pixie is also a good example of Pig Destroyer wearing their influences on their sleeves - the track is full of Melvins groove and riffs thick enough to be classified as aural treacle. Honeymoon showcases just how good Hayes' range is; his high-pitched screams simply split my eardrums apart - delightful.
Other highlights include all of the covers spread around throughout the album. Melvins, Carcass and Dark Angel all have tributes here; and all of them are very good. Some might be thinking the album loses intensity or creativity towards the end. Well, they too would also be very wrong. Right from the opening vocal sample of Deflower to the crushing final track of Frailty In Numbers, the three piece grindcore outfit never let up.
As far as bad points go, it really is all about opinion. I for one think this album is fantastic but it definitely has its flaws. The production is nowhere near as awesome as it was on Terrifyer and Phantom Limb; that said, the raw sound helps to make the album that extra bit brutal. Just check out Delusional Supremacy to see what I mean. Also, the additional demos seem as if they were just hastily added to the album to flesh it out a little bit more. By no means are they a pointless listen - the demo's definitely have their place and are an interesting listen. Lyrically, JR has never had a downpoint in the band's career - he has always been the master when it comes to dark, deranged lyrical genius. Once you've bought the album, it really is worth checking out darklyrics.com to see what all the noise is about.
In conclusion, Pig Destroyer's 38 Counts of Battery is a good album. In fact, its great - but lets not forget that this is a grindcore album. And we all know that grindcore isn't everybody's cup of tea. A wish for variation will not be satisfied and neither will a wish for ambience or melodic stuff. But to be honest, when grindcore is this good, who the hell cares?
But seriously, just buy it or download the whole thing.