Pig Destroyer’s 2007 album Phantom Limb ended up on many year-end lists and was lauded as one of, if not the best, album that they have put out, so hype for this one was massive to say the least. In a genre like grindcore where it can be hard to separate from the pack, Pig Destroyer has managed to do just that. Due in part to their talent, intensity and the twisted lyrics of frontman JR Hayes, this quartet is easily mentioned when the subject of best grind bands comes up.
The entire crew is back save for new skinsman Adam Jarvis, who plays in a band called Misery Index that some of you might be familiar with. He takes over for original drummer Brian Harvey, and there is no drop off in the least. His presence is felt from the opening seconds, with the album’s first four tracks following the blueprint for direct grind annihilation: short songs, punishing blasts and frenetic riffs. All of those lead to track five, “The Diplomat”, which is one of the best songs Pig Destroyer has ever penned. Starting with a massive groove riff backed by Jarvis’ fight-starting double bass, the pace and controlled scale runs further cement the strong songwriting on display here. Along with “The Diplomat”,“Valley of the Geysers” and “The Baltimore Strangler”is some of the longer songs on display here. It’s no coincidence that the length of said tracks allow more areas to be explored and creative ideas fleshed out, and Hayes’ trademark scream all the more impactful. An album where certain songs stand out, or an exact track you find yourself wanting to go back to, is often evidence of solid songwriting. Pay special attention to the stop-start attacks and multi-faceted riffing on display in “Strangler” especially, whose elements also show up in the track immediately following it, “White Lady.”
This control, restraint and attention to detail are the highlights of Book Burner, but as previously mentioned their ability to bring the house down with unbridled fury is fully on display; fans of Terrifyer and Prowler in the Yard will feel a sense of nostalgia. And that’s what this album feels like: a maturation and blending of the best aspects that make Pig Destroyer what they are. These guys have been sharpening their act together for almost 15 years, and it shows. The production on this LP is missing a bit of the lower end crunch of Phantom Limb, but it’s a slight drop off at worst. The sound is still crisp yet organic, which is fortunate as a smooth coat of gloss would sterilize the rabidity of this beast.
The whole album features 19 tracks which clock in at just over 32 minutes, and that includes some of the trademark samples that were found on PhantomLimb (my favorite being the opening line “The body of Christ” repeated over and over again). The longest here is found on the intro to “The Limb”, but it’s actually quite interesting if you listen to it. It’s also worth noting that Hayes’ lyrics seem to have strayed a bit from the strangeness that characterized earlier albums, with the ones here dealing with more topical subjects such as politics, the media and the ugly parts of society. But most are not drawn to metal for its lyrical prose, so it depends what your preferences are as to how much it will affect your enjoyment of this album.It’s been a phenomenal year for metal, and Book Burner just adds to it.[Visit the band's website]