To grind or not to grind... this is the answer to the question!
Pig Destroyer's previous effort, 2004's Terrifyer, floored many thanks to the band's unrelenting grind attack that seamlessly blends in splashes of thrash and death metal. It's a music cocktail that gives Pig Destroyer a little musical latitude within the fairly strict confines of grindcore. It's enough that certainly separates them from the grind masses for sure, and vocalist J.R. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull, sampler Blake Harrison and drummer Brian Harvey are doing their best to continue that trend with their latest effort, Phantom Limb.
The absolutely haunting build up of Rotten Yellow is one of the best “non-intro” intro's I've heard in a long while. Behind the repeated “Body of Christ” samples discordant feedback swells before “Mommy, they're coming!” is eerily whispered immediately before the tracks bursts to life. It's a controlled blast of grinding chaos that ensues in a vein not too dissimilar to what the band established previously. Blink and you'll miss the transition to the equally brutal Jupiter's Eye with its thrash paced blast, and the same applies to the dynamic and varied Deathripper too. Thought Crime Spree is one of the album's highlights as it effortlessly twists and turns through numerous tempos and a myriad of crushing riffs courtesy of Hull. But one thing Pig Destroyer do well is grind as is very well exhibited in the unrelenting blasting fury of Cemetery Road, the slightly longer Lesser Animal, and the longer again yet more varied title track, Phantom Limb.
But it's not all grind, grind, grind. Changing things up in a big way is the epic, well epic by Pig Destroyer standards, four minute Loathsome and the shorter, but still epic by comparison Heathen Temple and Alexandria. All three utilise groove more than grind to maximum effectiveness, allowing the album to offer up plenty of variety as opposed the repetitiveness of continual blast beats. Fourth Degree Burns shows a solid balance of blast versus brutality with a good mix of groove and grind, whilst the real highlight of the less than outstanding Girl In The Slayer Jacket comes in the form of the bizarrely excellent sounding mid section. Waist Deep In Ash couldn't be more thrash influenced short of being spawned in the 80s, whilst the album's musical finale (we won't even comment on the Untitled seven and a half minute soundscape), The Machete Twins, is another great example of Pig Destroyer fusing death metal, grindcore and thrash metal without going all experimental throughout.
The bottom line is that Pig Destroyer have thrown down an excellent follow up to Terrifyer in Phantom Limb which makes this not only absolutely essential for existing fans, but also a damn fine starting point for those who haven't been brave enough to this point to see what all the fuss is about.
(Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment)