Thursday, March 7, 2013

Album Review: Pig Destroyer - Mass & Volume

There are a few reasons why people shouldn't shit all over this thing - which is what I think some may want to do with it when they hear it for the first time, because I have a feeling it's going to go under alot of people's heads. Yes, under people's heads. Like the 20 ton prehistoric worm that it sounds like, burrowing through hard mantle and hollowing out a once vibrant and functioning planet. This is not the ultra-violent thrash tinged grindcore we are used to experiencing from Pig Destroyer. This is potentially the most aptly named EP ever, 'Mass & Volume'. Two tracks in doom vein that plunge you into a throbbing void of amp worship and blown bass cabinets.
The first reason to accept this for what it is, even if it isn't what you want to hear from these guys is that it's Pig Destroyer, more impressively it's Pig Destroyer festering out of their usual comfort zone and experimenting in slowing the fuck down, God bless 'em. Second is that it's a gift. Nobody knew that this slow piston through the gizzard was even going to be released until the moment they decided to do it. Yeah it costs the listener ten clams but it's cool-ass new experimental material that prior to this was collecting dust on a shelf next to a jar of fremented baby heads and most likely would have never been heard, so it's a gift to the fans. And more importantly, ALL of the proceeds made for this album go towards the college fund of the daughter of the recently deceased Pat Egan - the long time director of retail sales for Relapse Records. So not only is it for a good cause, but one of the best one's out there, the child of a friend.
Shortly after the release of Phantom Limb the band occasionally talked about these two tracks in various interviews and whatforth as a couple of long dirge ridden songs they knocked out with extra studio time during the Phantom Limb sessions. They never spoke of what their intentions were to do with them or if they ever would be released. Per the group: "This EP was written and recorded during the final day of the Phantom Limb sessions with unexpected extra studio time and resources. In the following years, with Natasha being released on its own and Brian no longer being in the band, our intentions of releasing Mass & Volume basically evaporated. However, looking back now, Mass & Volume serves as a great epilogue to that particular era of the band."
The first track, 'Mass & Volume', is an epic slab of monolithic guitars trodding along with the velocity of a slug, weaving in and out of Hull's feedback. Beneath it a subtle layer of ominous keyboards fluxes frequencies and effects which can only be heard occasionally when the tree trunk bass strings stop their throbbing vibrations from each slow strike. The 19+ minute song feels more like a drone track most times than anything more doom laden. The song never really goes anywhere, so if you're not into either of those aforementioned genres and like your stuff more superficial than chances are you already don't like this band and/or you probably just won't get it. I'm into alot of weird shit (musically - ahem), and my album collection ain't exactly over-saturated with any kind of Doom Metal, in fact it's pretty much the opposite of that. Off the top of my head the only other three bands that match the RPM's of this first track that I indulge in are Lycia, Gnaw Their Tongues, and strict selections of Type O Negative.
So while the Evoken afficianado may turn his nose up at this for someone like me it bates the appetite. Is it all the more cool being a fan of the band and hearing them do something in a different realm sans Natasha? Absolutely. I'd say the best way to experience Mass & Volume is to crank your stereo to 13 in a blacked out room, with speakers powerful enough to rattle the frames off your wall....naked. As simple as it is it creates a world around you if you let it, and by the time Hayes comes in with his indicipherable effects-laden vocals it will sound like there is something there in the dark with you, trying to tell you something you don't want to hear.
The second song on the EP, 'Red Tar' - though sonically the same - is a bit more doom-traditional and riff oriented, opening up in the end with an ever so subtle and enlightening riff that only comes together to be heard when the song is over. I enjoyed the EP, a bit more stripped down than 'Natasha', which was the last time the group did something like this during the 'Terrifyer' sessions, but I'd reckon to say that if you enjoyed that you would enjoy this. To the hardcore Doom Metal fans, who have a huge cache' of bands to compare this thing to, it may be less than mediocre.  But to a guy like me, who loves seeing bands normally confined to narrow genres step out and do what they want and then just put it out there, it helps fill that niche of slow, disturbing, heavy and ambient that my collection sometimes lacks. Stream and buy the album here