It’s been 17 years since Jennifer playfully wrestled her friend to the ground in front of the snow cone stand.
Nearly two decades on, the deeply unsettling introduction to Pig Destroyer’s Prowler In The Yard is like a dog whistle for grind fanatics everywhere. The band’s snarling 2001 album also happened to be their Relapse debut and their first real introduction to a global audience. It’s since been inducted into Decibel magazine’s hallowed Hall Of Fame—a long-running institution celebrating the creation of extreme metal’s greatest albums. It’s also a fucking masterpiece.
Of course, Pig Destroyer had been around for a few years before Prowler hit the underground like a chainsaw to the jugular. Back in ’97, it was just three kids in a Virginia basement recording 30-second blast freakouts on cobbled-together equipment. Ask PD guitarist, producer and co-founder Scott Hull if he thought he’d still be in the grind game 21 years after the band began, and he’ll just start laughing. “No way,” he says. “The biggest aspiration we had was to put out a seven-inch. We thought full-length records were kinda bourgeois.”
And yet here we are, holding Pig Destroyer’s sixth full-length in our sweaty paws. Entitled Head Cage, it takes its name from a grisly medieval torture device. Vocalist JR Hayes says it was inspired by lyric he used on a noise project with PD synth/sample overlord Blake Harrison: “It encapsulated not only some of the themes on this album, but on many of our past records as well. Themes like isolation, depression, and anxiety. You know—feel good kind of stuff.”
Coming nearly six years after 2012’s Book Burner, Head Cage has had plenty of time to gestate into a fully formed monstrosity. “The word ‘deliberate’ comes to mind when I think about this record,” Hull says. “Some of these songs have been written for two or three years. I made a very conscious effort to play and write out of my comfort zone. Whether it sounds like that or not, I’m not really sure. But I intentionally tried to not listen to the bands I usually listen to for inspiration. I went completely against the playbook for the first part of the record.”