Our coverage here at Nine Circles includes a ton of different bands and subgenres, yet so far it’s been completely void of Pig Destroyer. So for this “Nine Circles ov” list, my aim is to rectify that. To me, there’s no argument: Pig Destroyer rules the grindcore genre, hands down. From the first note I ever heard from the band through the last note of their latest release, Book Burner, they’ve epitomized all things aggressive and devastating. And it’s high time they get their due.
Formed by guitarist Scott Hull in 1997, Pig Destroyer set out to make grindcore the way it should be, and have continued to up the ante with each release. With J.R. Hayes’ versatile vocal delivery and the band’s mind-melting lyrics, it’s really the stuff of a metalheads dreams. I can still remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Explosions in Ward 6 and there aren’t too many things in this world I can say that about. So without further ado, let’s get on with the list…
“Three Second Apocalypse” (from Explosions in Ward 6, 1998)
This was my first ever exposure to the band, and even though the production is way muddier than the rest of their catalog, this song rips from start to finish. 40 seconds of blasting drums and guitars — along with Hayes’ deep screaming and unique lyrics — was all it took to hook me in for the long haul.
“Mapplethorpe Grey” (from Prowler in the Yard, 2001)
This album singlehandedly changed my metal interests forever. This was where the band found that perfect mix of death and grind, and “Mapplethorpe Grey” showcases it perfectly. The sound is that of a brutal ass kicking: deep, guttural and heavy as hell. The lyrics are deep and open to interpretation, and provide a backdrop as heavy as the sound itself.
“Gravedancer” (from Terrifyer, 2004)
One of the longer tracks in the Pig Destroyer canon at 3:01, Gravedancer incorporates a bit of a rock sensibility while maintaining a blistering feel overall. The guitar tone is reminiscent of death metal and the pacing is a little slower but this all lends to a thick final product. A lyric like “I could cut myself to pass the time” is the kind that never really leaves you. An unnerving and eerie track on the whole.
“Trojan Whore” (from Prowler in the Yard, 2001)
This is another song that cemented Prowler in the Yard as a longstanding favorite of mine. It’s absolutely in your face for the first half, then sinks into a devilishly heavy groove for the last. Just one more masterpiece from this album that sinks its teeth into you all the way to the bone.
“Baltimore Strangler” (from Book Burner, 2012)
What better way to open a bruiser like this than with someone declaring they “tear homes apart”? With a slow, neck-cracking groove and some really muddy sounding atmospherics from Blake Harrison, “Baltimore Strangler” plays out like a serrated edge knife blade slowly working its way through your neck. Adam Jarvis turns in an insane drum passage towards the close of the song, cementing this as a grizzly and haunting outing.
“Rotten Yellow” (from Phantom Limb, 2007)
The repetition of the lyric, ‘the body of Christ’ that opens this track is as unsettling as the onslaught of what comes after. The song sets the world on fire with its extreme speed and complete disregard for the listener’s hearing. It’s classic Pig Destroyer: unrelenting and heavy as a nuclear missile. It’s 1:40 of sheer volume and a complete testament to how a grind album should kick things off.
“Song of Filth” (from Terrifyer, 2004)
Another great example of why the band leads the grindcore genre. “Song of Filth” is unapologetically ferocious and fast. Scott Hull showcases some damn-near inhuman guitar playing in this one, and Hayes’ vocals sound absolutely painful as he delivers the line about vipers spiraling down someone’s legs. Even the band’s shortest tracks like this one feel so much larger and more massive than they already are.
“4th Degree Burns” (from Phantom Limb, 2007)
This track showcases a lot for the band: from a flurry of punk attitude to a slower-paced, death/doom passage. Just another reason why Pig Destroyer’s resonated so much with me over the years; their ability to turn a song so quickly while retaining their explosiveness makes my jaw drop every time. No matter how many times I’ve heard an album or song it always feels like the first run through and never once gets old.
“All Seeing Eye” (from Book Burner, 2012)
This song has a really angry and hate-fueled feel to it, and at times even seems to pay tribute to Napalm Death through the angular blasting and the vocals. The first time I heard “All Seeing Eye,” it felt like the whole band was trying to exorcise some demons. And it kind of still does to this day.
All told this was an exhausting and at the same time rewarding list to put together. I could have easily picked 20 tracks for this list, but for now, these nine will get you started. Check ’em out below: