'Phantom Limb' exorcises its emotions

MUSIC REVIEW Pig Destroyer Phantom Limb 3.5 stars Grindcore tends to be an exclusive, unapproachable genre. Even its very name scares off plenty of listeners, and those brave enough to experiment usually find themselves repelled by the constant blast beats, insane tempos and growled vocals that sound as if they were ripped directly out of the singer's throat. And Pig Destroyer does pretty much all of that on its latest album, Phantom Limb, the follow-up to 2004's acclaimed Terrifyer. The album's 14 songs are all brutal artillery blasts of pure and absolute death metal fury without all those wanky melodic guitar solos. The band's own description of its style as "deathgrind" seems perfectly suited. In fact, Phantom Limb is such a grinding, rhythmic album, it almost feels more like an aural beatdown than a collection of songs. So basically, the band got exactly what it was going for. But what makes Pig Destroyer and its album better than any run-of-the-mill death or grind record is that the songs actually do carry a sense of implied tunefulness and real emotional weight. Pig Destroyer's riffs are as pummeling as they are impossible not to headbang to. The sludge-drenched guitars are battered to hellacious levels of texture, warping and distorting the tone with false harmonics and squalls. The low end keeps everything running at Armageddon pace with hairpin twists and turns in rhythm and time. But most remarkable are the lyrics hidden under J.R. Hayes' barely comprehensible screams and growls. "Girl In The Slayer Jacket" is an emotionally devastating tale of teen suicide that is both bleak and horrifying while still being emotionally sincere and excrutiating. Yes, the band revels in the genre's typical use of gory b-movie imagery, most noted in "Deathtripper" and "The Machete Twins," but those nuggets of heartfelt honesty, and even a twisted sweetness as on "Fourth Degree Burns," where Hayes spews, "She'll step on that plane and disappear, but tonight her lips are real and kissing like a head on collision." Seeing a glimpse of humanity in an often cartoonish genre makes Pig Destroyer the type of grindcore band that won't disappoint fans of extreme metal, but might also have something special in store for that adventurous listener who might otherwise be turned off. Contact the A&E Editor at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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