Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Metal interlude - Pig Destroyer

Even the most casual reader of this blog will have noticed that new posts have ground to a halt. It's due to the pretty demanding schedule of readings and assignments that my current course presses on me, added to the soul-sucking uncertainty and tedium of applying to graduate programmes. Since most of my philosophical attention is currently being given to my academic commitments and chewing on Bernard Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, I'll make this my first non-philosophy related post on here. I always intended to have a few of them. They might even become a majority.

My first musical post on here is on something abrasive and disturbing: grindcore, that acrid mix of metal and punk which seems, as far as anybody can make out, to be invocations to have all life eradicated from existence. I've listened to a lot of it the past few hours. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up: today I have subsisted only on vending machine coffee, a chocolate bar and grindcore. Man was not meant to live this way. There is no way which is the way man was meant to live, but if there was a purpose, this certainly wouldn't be working toward it. There is a certain perverted pleasure to be taken out of living this much in conflict with basic human interests, throwing the pointlessness of it all irreverently into the face of an uncaring world.

Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer

There are some very significant ways of counting up the scores in which it turns out that Pig Destroyer are the best band working in metal right now. They have chops, they have passion, commitment and energy, they have thrown themselves onto an artistic endeavour which, from the outside at least, is damned thankless, where their families don't likely understand what they do and wish that they'd stop. They also have a unified vision, which some few metal bands do, but, what's more, they have the focus and the insight to pull it off. Focus is something which tends to seperate the really worthwhile musicians from the also-rans. Actual, honest-to-God insight is a quality so rare that it's hard to recognise, simply from lack of examples. Pig Destroyer, for instance, are a metal band with real lyrical strength. It's not that their lyrics are effective at what they do or check all the usual boxes for the genre. It's that they write songs which contain strong, evocative, well-written texts on their core, with lyrical themes that inform the music and are born to fruition in the format. Even though nobody can make out what J.R. Hughes is screaming. Especially because nobody can make them out. When you realise what the lyrics are the surprise of what is lying beneath is a real kick to the guts -- nobody expects lyrically sophisticated metal, especially not in the harsher extremities which Pig Destroyer live and work in. But there you are: the songs are small, tight meditations on a world fucked up in ways that one can barely stand thinking about: the more you look, the more fucked up things you see. Nobody has an easy time of knowing how to react to writing like this -- people have been wringing their hands about the literature of CĂ©line for decades now, as a case in point. But this discomfort is largely Pig Destroyer's point, and one that they forcefully drive home. It's a remarkable achievement.


  1. Good review, insightful and nicely put together. But dude, the white-text-on-black, it burns...

  2. It was actually light grey on black, but your comment has been noted. The text has been darkened a bit.