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PIG DESTROYER The Octagonal Stairway

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Thursday, September 3, 2020 @ 8:02 AM


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PIG DESTROYER
The Octagonal Stairway

Relapse Records




As BRUTAL TRUTH posited way back in 1992, Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses. And as the pandemic rages, cities roil with protests, the West Coast burns while the East and Gulf Coasts dodge one hurricane after another and the election is shaping up to be a world class cluster fuck, the conditions couldn't be much more extreme these days.

Enter Virginia grind veterans PIG DESTROYER to provide the extreme responses with their new EP The Octagonal Stairway. Though boasting only six tracks, the EP captures all the turbulence of our “new normal” with its mix of jackboot brutality and seemingly maniacal screed and then ratchets up the chaos with a series of off-kilter “noise works.” It's as extreme a yin and yang as you will hear.

The first half of Stairway is pure grind/death metal ferocity powered by Scott Hull's slash-and-burn guitar work and Adam Jarvis' galloping drums and topped by frontman J.R. Hayes' breathless rants. “Mark my words, the cavalry will never arrive,” he bellows in a fit of hopeless rage on “The Cavalry”. I think a lot of us are probably starting to feel that way.

The title track and “Cameraman” round out this portion of the EP with equal authority and heft, echoing NAPALM DEATH with their chug-and-sprint dynamics and occasionally gut-rattling bottom end thanks to the band's decision to add a bassist for 2018's Head Cage after going 20 years without – Travis Stone has been anchoring the bottom end since 2019. The beefier tone is the perfect complement to Hull's vicious hooks, making for some of the band's heaviest, yet catchiest work.

If these tunes seem familiar, though, it's because all three were released previously as singles – the title track all the way back in 2013 as an Adult Swim release. “Camerama” was as well, last year, while “The Cavalry” was issued last year as part of the Decibel Flexi Series. Still, new or, in this case, no, they can do significant damage.

The new, or at least unreleased, material that makes of up second half of the EP provides a dramatic contrast to the front part's bludgeon. Though noisy enough, the last three tracks showcase the more industrial/electronically inclined side of the band marked by Blake Harrison's synth/sample mastery and are unsettling and brutal in their own weird way.

“News Channel 6” offers 46 seconds of industrial clangor as Hayes' Kent Brockman-like anchorman banter about today's “top stories” goes off the rails. “New Orleans is under water, Los Angeles is on fire. New York is under attack. Worms are under my scalp! Be ashamed of everything that's ever happened, it's your fault. Damn you teleprompter.”

“Head Cage”, with its GODFLESH/SCORN-like droning pulse, thunking percussion and creepy narration, was seemingly meant as the title track to PIG DESTROYER's last album, yet mysteriously failed to make the cut. Apparently the band liked the name, but not so much the song? Who knows, anyway it's here now and serves almost as set up to the 11-minute “Sound Walker” that closes out the EP.

“Sound Walker” takes the dubby vibe and draws it way out with its looping synthesized beat, power plant-like thrum, keening sound effects and digitized vocals. Ex-SEPULTURA drummer and sometimes DJ Iggor Cavalera guests here and shows he's no slouch at sound manipulation either, following Harrison's lead in helping crafting the song's increasingly monumental and ominous soundscape. And while 11 minutes is a bit much, its prolonged, repetitive vibe does capture the sort of “every day is exactly the same” dread many of us have been experiencing after six months of living like shut ins.

3.5 Out Of 5.0


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