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Pig Destroyer - "Phantom Limb" (CD)

Pig Destroyer - "Phantom Limb" CD cover image

"Phantom Limb" track listing:

1. Rotten Yellow
2. Jupiter's Eye
3. Deathtripper
4. Thought Crime Spree
5. Cemetary Road
5. Lesser Animal
6. Phantom Limb
7. Loathsome
8. Heathen Temple
9. 4th Degree Burns
10. Alexandria
11. Girl in the Slayer Jacket
12. Waist Deep in Ash
13. The Machete Twins

Reviewed by on October 10, 2007

"Phantom Limb is essential listening for fans of the genre as it fluidly summarizes the band's development."

Few bands set off the fight-or-flight instinct like modern grind psychos Pig Destroyer. Like being subjected to an interrogator armed with pliers and a blowtorch, Pig Destroyer leave the listener wide-eyed and white-knuckled. The maniacally unhinged vocals, seizing rhythms and deranged lyrics have put the band in a psyche ward all their own. With ten years of growing pains behind them, the band saw their greatest evolutionary step between 2001's “Prowler in the Yard” and 2004's mind bending “Terrifyer.” The band takes that evolution a few paces farther with Phantom Limb.

As has become Pig Destroyer tradition, Phantom Limb begins with a disquieting mood piece. One would require nerves of steel not to be ejected from their seat by Terrifyer’s shrill opening. While the same cannot be said for the “Phantom Limb” opener, “Rotten Yellow,” it leaves a lasting impression regardless. Roused by a familiar peal of feedback, the album opens with a preacher chanting “The Body of Christ”. Just as the feedback achieves an unsettling pitch, muffled cries echo in the distance. A child whispers “Mommy, they’re coming;” the band descends on the listener an instant later. Vocalist J.R. Hayes shrugs free of his straight jacket screaming, as Scott Hull’s circular saw riffs collide with the bulleting blasts of drummer Brian Harvey. It’s all over in less than two minutes. Within the space of a blink, “Jupiter’s Eye” accelerates the violence in all aspects. Improbably, Hayes foresees a news headline in which a nude couple fell from a rooftop. “Doomed lovers in a free fall; Together till they crash to the ground,” he roars, likening the resultant carnage to the red storm of the planet Jupiter. Centerpiece “Loathsome” kicks off as standard fare but gets twisted and contorted into one of the bands most multi-tiered pieces to date. “Death Tripper” is a minute-long ode to dismemberment capped with the shrieking apex: “You’re legs look so sexy out of context”. Following a brief tone setting sample, “Waist Deep in Ash” plunges into tumbling “Piss Angel” style rhythms and vocals that recall “Verminess.” Albeit a brief and feverish moment, the turbulent “Alexandria” flaunts a guitar riff that bears a passing resemblance to the main riff of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”

Phantom Limb lacks the extreme zeniths and nadirs of Terryfer but recovers with a constant and alarmingly varied assault. Shirking some muddiness for clarity, the guitars manage to remain jagged but the drums sound remarkably clear. Phantom Limb boasts a vocal assault that splits the difference of “Prowler’s” guttural roars and “Terrifyer’s” piercing screams. Hayes’ relentless hysterics have been abbreviated somewhat making his most violent outburst all the more striking. Production quality remains minimalist but is consistently layered and stable. Pig Destroyer has never served their fans filler and that tradition continues with “Phantom Limb.” “The Machete Twins,” “Girl in the Slayer Jacket,” “Deathtripper,” and “Loathsome” all stand as some of the band’s finest work. However, there are few moments that will turn heads as “Hyperviolet,” “Towering Flesh,” and “Piss Angel” have in the past. That said, the “Pornographers of Sound” are in peak condition. Phantom Limb is essential listening for fans of the genre as it fluidly summarizes the bands development, making it a wise place for the uninitiated to work their way back through the band’s much touted catalogue.

Highs: The album’s gnarled thrash sound brings a more metallic element to the band’s grind profile; making it a gripping album from creeping prologue to startling conclusion.

Lows: Despite a strong showing by all members the band level fewer surprises on their fans this time around.

Bottom line: While the performances may be jaw dropping, the band take fewer chances this time out.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)