Pig Destroyer
Head Cage


3.5
great

Review

by ThyCrossAwaits USER (48 Reviews)
August 30th, 2018 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The head cage is what keeps you from digging this.

Pig Destroyer are irreparably different from the band that released Prowler In the Yard and other albums to hide from your mother back in the early 2000s. “Irreparably” here means that undoubtably fans will lament the band has gone soft, or are no longer the spastic grindcore outfit. And it’s true. Gone are the massive breasts that adorn now-classic Terrifyer or putrid bodies hacking off their limbs, but major labels like Relapse probably ceased that kind of purposeful shock-grubbing around when Cannibal Corpse started making censorship sleeves.

Even Head Cage’s short “atmospheric” intro track, “Tunnel Under the Tracks” consists of a snippet of classical music and an almost comical warning that they accept no responsibility for any hearing impairment, before busting into some Gnaw Their Tongues-esque eerie rumbling and something about drowning in blood. It’s sort of spooky and sets a mood, but as anyone who still shudders at the name “Jennifer” knows, J.R. Hayes’ thoroughly macabre mind is capable of much, much more.

Hayes’ inner workings aren’t the only thing twisted. After years of barking and shrieking as one of the most beloved vocalists AND lyricists in the heavy music niche, J.R.’s vocals are definitely altered. It’s a relatively minor complaint, but he’s mostly abandoned higher pitches and settled into wide-throated yells more reminiscent of Pig Destroyer’s hardcore influences than anything harsher. This is key in the band’s adjustment in overall sound, however, and setting all nostalgic opinions aside, there’s nothing wrong with Head Cage. All elements considered, no one should be surprised.

“Heathen Temple” from way back on 2007’s Phantom Limb has one of the most infectious riffs in modern metal, and this was long before Pig Destroyer met The Jarvises. That evolution was inevitable and came on insanely quick. 2012’s Book Burner was the first to feature live drummer Adam Jarvis, and now Head Cage is the studio premier of first-ever Pig Destroyer bassist John Jarvis, cousin to aforementioned skinman. Not only is the band now 20 years out from their debut “full-length” Explosions In Ward 6, they’ve adapted two major players to their lineup one album and one member at a time. They’ve grown a living breathing rhythm section for the first time in their careers, and the word is “groove”.

After “Tunnel Under the Tracks” cuts out, Pig Destroyer pay a minute of respect to their past with “Dark Train”. Genuinely clocking in at just over 70 seconds, the track is textbook grindcore to the T. If a band could be accused of ripping themselves off, it could be believed here. The context, however, is astoundingly important. What follows is “Army of Cops”, one of Head Cage’s prerelease singles. General opinions skewed towards “It’s ok” on the release of the video, which features Richard Johnson on guest vocals only fueling the “metallic hardcore” vibes. The track is infected with call-and-response gang vocals and riffs so thick with groove they could confidently challenge any Every Time I Die cut. The lukewarm reaction is understandable, but when given a quick shot of “old school” Pig Destroyer followed immediately by the full-fledged power of the five-piece, one realizes “Army of Cops” is not only addictingly catchy but surprisingly well-layered and expressive of only more mature material to come.

It becomes obvious through the course of Head Cage some of the songs may have been written before the advent of Pig Destroyer’s quintet-hood, such as “Dark Train” and “Trap Door Man”, arguably any track that doesn’t clear the two-minute mark is a distinctively different style than the meat of the album. “Terminal Itch” could’ve easily wedged itself into either Phantom Limb or Book Burner, whereas two tracks earlier “Circle River” could almost be described as hard rock, or even nu-metally towards the end with Corey Taylor-esque moaned lyrics. Seven-minute closer “House of Snakes” is at least 60% adequate material for post-metal. The absolute best bits, however, are the few places where all parts converge (ha). Perfectly portioned, “The Torture Fields” and “The Last Song” waver around three minutes apiece and distinguishing whether they fit the grind trio or the groove quintet is difficult. The most possibility for reconciliation lies in “The Torture Fields”, which retains the unmistakable Pig Destroyer flavor but leaves plenty of room for brooding riffs and an impressive display from the Jarvis with the sticks in the final minute. “The Last Song” (deceptively titled) is beefy metallic grind, but the first 20 seconds are a jazzy bass solo and synth squeals. It all works astoundingly well. It’s sort of fascinating in this way to see the evolution of the band so perfectly displayed, and perhaps it makes for an imperfect record in the classical sense, but…….there is NOTHING WRONG with Head Cage.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ThyCrossAwaits
August 30th 2018


3443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/30/641382167/first-listen-pig-destroyer-head-cage



Will probably edit later but I don't write 0.00001% as much as I should and I had the time.



feature me plz?

XingKing
August 30th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"2012’s Book Burner was the first to feature live drummer Adam Jarvis and not a Scott Hull program"



This sentence reads kind of weird because it sounds like you're implying the band has never had a drummer prior to Jarvis.

ThyCrossAwaits
August 30th 2018


3443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for this, I actually wasn’t sure if they’d ever had a STUDIO drummer before that because I don’t think they did, did they?

XingKing
August 30th 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Brian Harvey was their drummer on every release until Book Burner. I think you're confusing Agoraphobic Nosebleeds use of a drum machine with Pig Destroyer.

bloc
August 30th 2018


56481 Comments


Looking forward to hearing this, as I dug the slow grooviness of the new songs. Reminds me of the change that Cannibal Corpse made in their later albums when they started to write slower songs as well

Digging: UNKLE - Psyence Fiction

ThyCrossAwaits
August 30th 2018


3443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I thiiiink it should make more sense now, thanks y’all.



Yeah bloc it’s almost that exact same sort of thing, album is totally worth time

rafalafa
August 30th 2018


123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I absolutely love Pig Destroyer (I'll admit to being a 'Book Burner' apologist), but...man. I hope this is a grower, because first listen is mostly "meh." It's not bad, per se, but I wish I was wowed more than I am.

JayEnder
August 30th 2018


4562 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

JR’s vocals are absolutely murdered. His range is completely gone and I am not diggin his new style. Album was sadly boring minus a couple songs. The closer is really cool at least, I feel like they threw all their good ideas into that one long song lmao

Digging: Wreck and Reference - Absolute Still Life

ThyCrossAwaits
August 30th 2018


3443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I’m surprised this isn’t leaning a little higher for people, it’s definitely uneven but when it hits it hits



Definitely only about 45% your typical PD-style stuff tho

zaruyache
August 30th 2018


21112 Comments


This feels like the flame's gone dim. Like the last few Slayer records.

FearThyEvil
August 30th 2018


16838 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Definitely feel you on that

zaruyache
August 30th 2018


21112 Comments


Got through like 5 tracks, felt sad, started jamming Wormrot instead. Feeling slightly better.

JayEnder
August 30th 2018


4562 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It’s still too early to rate this... honestly not sure how I feel about it yet. House of Snakes is one of their best songs tho

XingKing
August 31st 2018


14739 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

That intro weirds me out because it straight rips off Blackened by Metallica

dbizzles
August 31st 2018


13297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice. Will jam soon.

Digging: Two People - First Body

ThyCrossAwaits
August 31st 2018


3443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Xing I agree intro is just bad



zaru lol that’s the feeling the last Wormrot record gave me though...

BigPleb
August 31st 2018


58996 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Looking forward to jamming this, dug every single.



FearThyEvil
August 31st 2018


16838 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm not expecting much at all but if I even end up giving it a 3, I'll call that a slight success honestly.

DDDeftoneDDD
August 31st 2018


5842 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

not out yet you pirates

Digging: Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance

CalculatingInfinity
August 31st 2018


9005 Comments


From the singles I've heard this is so close to being an album I'd adore but it's not quite there due to the production, resulting in so many parts sounding off. I love JR's vocals here, having shot screams changed his voice to make his delivery sound even more vicious.



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