Head Cage by Pig DestroyerRelease date: September 7, 2018
Label: Relapse Records
No blastbeats? That’s like black metal without corpse paint. Tech-death without annoying tempo changes. Or more appropriately it’s like grindcore without blastbeats! Pig Destroyer guitarist and producer Scott Hull set out to forge a drastic redirection to the blast and bash numbers of albums past for sixth full-length Head Cage, and though it is not entirely bereft of blastbeats it does create a significant change in dynamics.
After some audial fuckery and Thulsa Doom lovin’ from Blake Harrison in intro ‘The Tunnel Under The Tracks’ it’s right into ‘Dark Train’, which introduces our first smattering of blastbeats right off the bat and one of the more traditional grind songs with some punky seasoning and brutal hardcore kicks. ‘Army Of Cops’ and ‘Circle River’ are more in tune to the flow of the bulk of this album with more focus on laying down thick beats, basslines and twisted chug-along riffs coarsing through its mostly mid-paced and slightly sludgy framework.
‘Terminal Itch’ returns to more old school Pig Destroyer, though violently brief it features Agoraphobic Nosebleed femme-fatale Kat Katz as does the crushing ‘Concrete Beast’ which follows. Album highlights though come in form of the devastating ditty ‘Mt. Skull’ (check out the video if you want a laugh) and album closer ‘House Of Snakes’, which boasts a beautifully warped intro, angular riffage and seven minutes of bruising take-your-time hardcore.
Is it still vicious? Pig Destroyer don’t do anything by halves. The punchiness of grind is very present without the reliance of constant blasting. There’s more room to groove, to work in a catchy riff or build a more diverse song, so Head Cage works pleasingly. As a whole it is the polar opposite to Phantom Limb and Book Burner, it crushes with a lighter hammer but has the aesthetic blow of their previous works. It is noticeably different from any full-length they have put out so die hard fans may be stubborn with allowing this altered direction to breathe but there is enough diversity and industrial magic in the compositions that this is quickly forgotten and in place a divergent and headbangingly enjoyable album shines through.