Vocalist J.R. Hayes is holding a cigarette right in the press pictures.
That’s burning, but so are these books. It’s been five years since the grindcore legends released Phantom Limb. Their new record Book Burner is a result of a side work, shake-ups and a storyline.
For one, Pig Destroyer isn’t Pig Destroyer’s full-time job. The members have family and other full-time jobs to attend to – grindcore is just another thing they do. And they pretty much do it better than everyone else.
Drummer Adam Jarvis’ (who replaced former Pig Destroyer member Brian Harvey) real gig is being Misery Index’s drummer. But Jarvis wasn’t the first choice – Dave Witte from Municipal Waste was but had to bow out due to wrist injuries, and Jarvis stepped in.
Which makes this grindcore very primitive, even as appearances from Agoraphobic Nosebleed provide guest vocals (which only make the grind, grind-ier). This is what makes Pig Destroyer the kings of the genre.
And unlike former Pig Destroyer releases, the songs are slightly longer, allowing guitarist Scott Hull the repetition of riffs (though there should be an expanded version of “Iron Drunk” because it isn’t long enough). Whereas most albums lose the listener midway, this is the best part of Book Burner with songs like “Machiavellian,” “Baltimore Strangler” and “Burning Palm.”
Amidst all the change, it’s as if they improved what could be worked on and kept the parts that keep them on the throne. Hell, we know sometimes the bass is useless and what’s great is they just forgo it completely (yet samples man Blake Harrison is still in the picture). Secondly, Pig Destroyer have always had— controversial lyrics at the very least. In the aforementioned “Baltimore Strangler” Hayes screams, “She’s got a neck built for my hands…They say I hate women/They couldn’t be more wrong…I just wanted to hold her like an anaconda.”
Book Burner itself is based off a sci-fi short story Hayes wrote called “The Atheist” which comes with the deluxe edition of the record. It’s a story of religious zealot takeover in a quasi-post apocalyptic America where the protagonist struggles to stay alive and keep a free mind. The book burners destroy “blasphemous material” [novel by Ray Bradbury] Fahrenheit 451 style in a battle that takes place in rural mountains in the eastern part of the country.
With all of this – not only is this record insanely heavy but it’s the band’s finest – Book Burner is certainly one of the best metal records of the year. Somewhere in those clayey Appalachians of the band’s home commonwealth of Virginia is just where all this grit, slime and the anger of grindcore comes from. It’s just burning out there.