Review by Frost on December 29, 2021.
J.R. Hayes' preliminary grindcore act Pig Destroyer makes its mark on the metal world with two specific things: intense sonic battering in quick bursts and a fixed emphasis on deranged, horrific, surrealist, and conceptual storytelling. The combination of these elements made for two of the most gratifying and frightening listening experiences I've had in quite a while within the realm of grindcore. To be honest, I'm not the hugest grindcore fan. Pure grindcore isn't very palatable to my ears, though I do enjoy when it's mixed with the death metal sound. Bands like Lock Up, Cattle Decapitation, and Aborted are more my style, but Pig Destroyer seemed to keep my attention unlike your Napalm Deaths and Terrorizers, whom keep me interested for a few songs before I'm already clocking out. At the time, being a poor working class teenager out of high school, unable to afford metal albums because he couldn't get a job, I subsisted off illegally downloading as many albums as I could to feed my growing metal appetite and Pig Destroyer's two big albums Prowler In The Yard and Terrifyer were on my shitlist. Needless to say, both albums were masterful pieces of grindcore that I enjoyed thoroughly from front to back.
Skip ahead one year since the release of Terrifyer. Hayes & Co. decides to completely turn the metal world on its head (well, at least the world accompanied by their fans) with the release of a single, unceasing piece of doom and sludge entitled Natasha, which is also the album's namesake. Standing at a mere thirty seven minutes and thirty one seconds, this song truly a patience tester that demands your full attention. It's a song that stands upon the threshold of its atmosphere, which Pig Destroyer was already masters at with its disturbing narratives its vocalist wove like a sick tapestry made of snipped clitorises and dead baby flesh.
According to Hayes, the song is meant to be the apotheosis of what was the conceptual ground of what was Terrifyer. It was pretty much that girl on the cover of that record and how she became the Terrifyer. The lyrics are just as gruesome as that album, painted with a livid imagination on a canvas that's left indescribable by the time the song is over. With seemingly innocent teenage love ending in a sudden murder and ending with a black void surrounded by thousands of eyes and walls of flesh covered in blood to a giant grinning mouth, jaws in serrated teeth, the story of the girl that would eventually come to known as the Terrifyer becomes more and more clear.
The song itself is very fractured, feeling like it was chunks of multiple songs that were spliced into one contiguous mass, broken up only by sounds of nature, distorted samples, and creepy atmospheric sections. But Pig Destroyer use that to the song's advantage with each section being used as a device to make everything feel more complete. There are layers on top of layers of sounds throughout, creating a very unsettling, almost dangerous feel that utterly compliments the devious nature of the piece as it goes deeper and deeper with each passing minute. It's a while before the guitars start, but when they do, they pack a punch that's quite different from everything the band has done up until this point. I feel that the band does their best with this digression from the grindcore of the past. The riffs are incredibly slow, droning, and teething with this mountainous power that creeps up on you slowly. They don't build up to much, unfortunately, as that duty is properly relegated to the drums. The drumming is the vastest departure from the standard Pig Destroyer sound. This song takes the quick, complex, incredibly tight drumming from the previous albums and slows to down to a very slow, very heavy, simple pattern that actually works quite well here. Brian Harvey does a brilliant job in building up to the explosion almost eleven minutes in right before this repetitive stuttering sample starts up and J.R. Hayes begins to scream at the top of his lungs. It's like the man wants to swallow the microphone he's howling into like a psychotic raving lunatic. Hayes' voice has always been perfect for the lyrics he's done not only here, but throughout Pig Destroyer's entire discography. His ravaging vocals spewing out like fire is a perfect fit for the masochistic concepts he bestows upon the masses. Here, it varies from a sort of howling cry like that of Steve Austin from Today Is The Day to a loud, ear-piercing scream also like Steve Austin. In fact, a lot of these movements reminds me a lot of Today Is The Day. The twisted, almost miasmic sections reminds me quite a bit of "Sadness Will Prevail"-era Today Is The Day.
It's more or less a jarring experience at some points because the samples used to foreshadow, lead in to, or break up certain sections of the song tend to work against the atmosphere of the song. For example, at seventeen minutes in, there's an acoustic section that transitions from something that sounds like static and arguing from people in the background. I'm going to rightfully assume that gentle acoustic section belies the terrible murder that happened earlier and the man in this story is thinking about the good times they spent together. I think that this could have and should have been negated entirely because while it tries to touch on the image of this character reminiscing, it feels so incredibly cheesy as it takes place after a section of the song with J.R. Hayes is whispering lyrics about the man who is sliding down a chasm-like hole “trying so hard not to fall, slipping on the blood that's seeping from the walls.” It really kills the pacing of the song for a moment. The end of the song is incredibly fucking creepy, ending with a kind of psychotic, almost vengeful howling, followed by slushing waters in what sounds like a sewer, which are then drowned out by the violent winds and whipping rain beating the area that used to be at the beginning of the song that swallows everything before cutting to dead silence for a full two minutes, leaving the listened to take in and ponder all just happened nearly forty minutes ago. As you do, you come to the realization, “What the fuck did I just listen to?”
For me, that's what it felt like. Well, kinda. The atmosphere was incredibly oppressive as I read the lyrics. I was scared, frightened, uneasy, and disturbed with this really simplistic tale of karma given to this killer of a girl he claimed to love that was given a twisted H.P. Lovecraft style horror spin and put to an incredibly ambitious, albeit jarring piece of music. Now this song is very good and worth recommending and although the album it was meant to accompany doesn't even come close to that of topping its previous album, it was still very ambitious for Pig Destroyer to try something this radically different. I applaud them for it. Kudos to J.R. Hayes and the rest of the band.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10288