Monday, 17 November 2014

Pig Destroyer - Mass & Volume EP (Review)

Mass & Volume cover art

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 14th October 2014
Label: Relapse Records

Mass & Volume' CD/DD/LP track listing:

1.Mass & Volume 19:05
2.Red Tar 06:35


PIG DESTROYER boil metal down to its muscle, sinew, and bone - razor-sharp guitar, percussive pummeling, and a lone, stark howl - and use them to commit a vicious assault. The lyrics paint loathsome, frightening images of pitch-black self-hatred and the frailty of the human experience. These musical manifestations only serves to cement their already legendary status.

Pig Destroyer is:

Jr Hayes | Vocals
Scott Hull | Guitars
Adam Fucking Jarvis | Drums
Blake Harrison | Pan Flute, Shuttlecock
John Fucking Jarvis | Bass

From a musical standpoint, the big point of curiosity for most regarding ‘Mass & Volume’ is that Pig Destroyer, a firmly established and beloved grindcore band, has put out a completely-out-of-character doom metal EP. For a band known for their ferocity and frantic song writing, this is an experiment in the polar opposite direction. Indeed, they went all in with a two track, twenty-five EP; a run time only six minutes shorter than their last full length, which featured nineteen songs. The curiosity is, of course: Are they any good at it?

In short; yes, but it’s not without issues. The EP’s opening minutes are spent on a rather pleasant deep, ambient tone melody played beneath piercing guitar feedback. After four minutes the more traditional, drawn-out downbeat section begins, as does the first real indication of what doom metal made by Pig Destroyer sounds like. To me, this material feels right at home with an album like ‘Rampton’ from Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine. Sure, the production here is a bit more crisp than on that album, but the barbaric, droning riffs would fit in nicely with ‘Rampton’.

The title track, weighing in at a stout nineteen minutes, isn’t in a hurry to get anywhere. More often than not, it’s content to allow that feedback and ambient noise I mentioned earlier to carry the weight of building to the primitive dirges. While those occasions where the actual doom kicks in are indeed an excellent new set of footprints upon a well-trodden path; there’s simply too much time devoted to the foreplay to make climax worth it. ‘Red Tar’, on the other hand is much more straightforward, and a comparison to either Sleep, or maybe early, slower High On Fire seems appropriate enough as a reference point. ‘Red Tar’ is that much more effective because it feels that much more urgent.

You definitely do get the sense that these songs were very loosely arranged, or perhaps the result of using some extra time at the studio to have some fun doing something completely different. There’s obviously nothing wrong with having a bit of fun, especially when the EP’s original release was for a worthwhile charitable cause. Leaving that noble context aside, it feels a bit bloated and might have been a stronger offering at an even twenty minutes rather than twenty-five. With that in mind, what is on offer here is surprisingly strong for a band working in an antithetical genre.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

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