Review: Pig Destroyer – ‘Book Burner’

An awesome display of pure power in an incendiary sonic attack.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson


Pig Destroyer

Book Burner

Relapse Records


Let me be very frank about Pig Destroyer. You must enjoy albums that are one long sonic attack. There must be a vitriolic rage inside you that will allow you to simmer in the boiling putrid oil of hatred for an entire record. If you’re looking for hits, head banging hoopla or tracks you can throw onto your workout mix to get hyped up, then turn away. You’re not the crowd for Pig Destroyer and their new album Book Burner will only confuse and insult you. I don’t mean this as a put down, I mean it as a statement of fact. If you can’t endure unbridled hatred for thirty-two minutes then find out when the new Rob Zombie record is coming out.

If you can stomach it, if the idea of anger bullets whizzing past your skull pleases you, then strap the fuck in, Book Burner is awesome. I don’t say that as “dude the record is awesome”, I mean this thing is an awesome display of pure power. Pig Destroyer launch tight, aggressive and short bursts of spiteful music that pierce through bone, muscle, soul and mind. Book Burner resonates because it is so disturbing and so bleak. Sure Pig Destroyer play with thrash guitar elements, dynamics and even some old school mosh breakdowns (“Eve”, for starters) but that isn’t the point. The point is the poison, the need by the band to drain their demons out through the fetid blitz of the songs.

Guitarist Scott Hull, formerly of Anal Cunt and Agoraphobic Nosebleed to name just two, has no idea what going to the well too many times means. He is an endless pissed off riff machine. Some musicians want the guitar to sing, or rock or make sweet love to the listener. Hull wants his guitar to wrap around your brain and squeeze until blood shoots from your eyes. His attack is merciless. It blends elements of thrash, death metal, grindcore (one of the few who know how to do it) and punk into every strum of the guitar strings. Hull crams as many ideas and riffs into two minutes as he can and then forgets about them.

Vocalist J.R. Hayes does his best to match Hull’s guitar aggression with his wailing scream. If Hull’s guitar is the acid blood of the creature from Alien, then Hayes’ vocals are the snapping second mouth. It’s a smart play, using the vocals as another instrument instead of the focal point. I don’t know much about his lyrics, I confess they weren’t sent to me, but whatever Hayes is saying, he wants to do as much damage with words and vocals as Hull does with guitar.

The rest of the band stays right in tow. Drummer Adam Jarvis, making his recorded debut on Book Burner, is a machine. His style is so precise, so scientifically perfect that if it came to light the rest of Pig Destroyer built him in a basement I wouldn’t be surprised. Blake Harrison does a great job with samples, though how do you really rate a sampler?

Problems? Sure. The repetitive nature of Pig Destroyer becomes hard to swallow after one listen. While you’re listening, Book Burner is the greatest record ever recorded. When it ends you’d be hard pressed to remember much of it. Anger is a powerful emotion, but a one trick pony. Deep into my fifth listen I noticed Book Burner was becoming background noise, something no band wants their record to fall to.

Overall Book Burner is a very good record. Pig Destroyer have returned to do what they do best, which is to take their own sonic Mjolnir and bash your face into hamburger. The lack of variety and adherence to repetition made it difficult for me to rave about the album, but I still enjoyed it. I like when a band keeps a strong middle finger up at what the genre wants and Pig Destroyer have released another epic and vicious fuck you.