Review Summary: It's not a new album dummies.
I was once romantically involved with a girl named Natasha. While it certainly didn't go very well, I'm glad to say that I didn't murder her, I didn't feel a strange urge to walk into the forest when it ended, and most importantly, she didn't eat me.
"Natasha" isn't new; it was originally packaged with Terrifyer as a 5.1 surround sound DVD, but it's doubtful that many people gave it too much attention. It probably seemed pretty daunting - a 38 minute song by one of the most intense bands out there right now - but this isn't typical Pig Destroyer. "Natasha" is equal parts sludge and doom, and though it may not be the "genius soundscape" that some have proclaimed it to be, Pig Destroyer did an admirable job of branching out from their usual sound to show a different side of themselves.
The first five minutes of the song reveal a recurring weakness. It's all noise (wind, church bells, whispering), and while it's a good introduction for the song in terms of the atmosphere it creates, it feels like Pig Destroyer were so intent on making something different that they let the noise go on for too long. After the five minute mark, the music starts. A sludgy riff, accompanied by simple drums and ringing feedback, repeats itself over and over, and unlike the five minutes of noise in the intro, the music is immersive and effective in its repetition. Soon after, vocalist JR Hayes enters with something other than whispering - eerie clean vocals akin to the bridge of Phantom Limb's "Loathsome." It's the most interesting part of the song in that it sees Pig Destroyer being creepy by using something other than brutality and samples. It shows that they're not a one-trick pony, and although that's apparent enough when listening to their actual albums, it's nice to see it exemplified even further here. JR Hayes' screaming appears after ten minutes, the music slowly growing more frenzied to match the change in vocals. If nothing else, "Natasha" is a lesson in restraint. When the song feels as if it's leading up to some sort of climactic explosion, it merely fades out, leaving the band's signature samples in its wake.
Once again, the ambient section goes on for a tad too long, but that's rectified when Scott Hull starts playing a clean-toned, almost lullaby-like guitar part, with ethereal vocals floating on top, fading in and out repeatedly. Despite its pretty sound, it's definitely one of the most chilling moments of the song because Pig Destroyer's definition of "pretty" isn't the same as the rest of the world's. "I smelled honeysuckle and opium - two of her signature scents," whispers Hayes, accompanied by the sound of a slow flow of water (or another, considerably more morbid liquid). Guitar fades in again, distorted and lazy. It's here where drummer Brian Harvey makes his presence known with expertly tempo'd fills, providing backbone for Hull's riffs and Hayes' surprisingly melodic singing, making this section of the song one of the best, and certainly the most epic. The music once again fades out, but only for a few seconds, not a few minutes as might be inferred from the song's previous parts. Hayes' vocals really shine as he goes through a myriad of styles; this much variation shows just how much he's capable of doing, and when his trademark Pig Destroyer-style screams come in with frantic music underneath, it's one of the most impressive emotional releases in their history.
While "Natasha" might not be the most original of doom songs (its noise-music-noise structure becomes predictable after awhile), it's a very good showing from Pig Destroyer, especially when one considers how disastrous a grind band playing a doom song could have been. As the various elements of the music stop playing - first the vocals, then the drums, and then Hull's lone guitar riff - "Natasha" descends into the windy, barren soundscape similar to the one heard in its intro. However, instead of whispers, there are screams in the background. Eventually, rain starts falling, but contrary to what one might expect when the song draws to a close, it doesn't subside and it doesn't fade out.
It just keeps falling harder and harder.