Pig Destroyer - Prowler In The Yard
Relapse Records
22 songs (36:26)
Release year: 2001
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

As decent as debut Explosions In Ward Six was, it was Prowler In The Yard which really made people sit up in surprise and start to headbang helplessly. All too often in Grind the heaviness and extremity is focused on, which is all very well - we can all remember the first time we stood in that metaphorical windtunnel and blasted Nasum into our heads, after all - yet the fact that it's asskickingly good music with some of the best riffs in the business often gets forgotten. As much fun as extremity is, unless backed up it can boring quickly, and that's why the grind community still discuss classic releases like Terrorizer's World Downfall in hushed and respectful tones, because of the songwriting. "Songwriting" and "grindcore" may seem like a strange combination if you've just wandered in from a Power Metal review, but it's true - and this is partially why Prowler In The Yard is such a great album. It's based around a concept, the songs flow perfectly and, of course, it rocks, the vocals/guitar/drums combo making for a grindcore attack that combines punkish aggression with metallic rage.

Scott Hull is a great guitarist for the riffs he plays, working with Brian Harvey's battery perfectly and switching constantly between enjoyable headbanging chunkiness and the usual grindcore soupy morass, although it's the sludgy tone and dips into slower speeds that really make it. Rather unusually for Grind, vocalist J.R. Hayes is quite understandable, using a manic yell for the most part that's somewhere between a shout and a scream, and his subtly disturbing performance adds barrels to the atmosphere of the album. That's another oddity for Grind, atmosphere - most bands are content simply to, well, grind, but Pig Destroyer like to take the listener on a freakish journey, the lyrics being something between the diary of a teenage serial killer and traditional haiku. Never straightforward, always open to listener interpretation, the lyrics strike a chilling note from the go, having that slightly wrong feel which always marks out the genuinely insane from the Hollywood horror standard. Little touches like the intro and outro narration to the album being read out by the eerie computerised voice of Microsoft Sam and the heavy breathing down the phone line of Piss Angel work wonderfully, too.

Yet even ignoring this and looking at Prowler In The Yard as just another half-hour or so of grunt n'blast, it really catches your attention, and this is where it earns those high points. The riffs are just too catchy to allow this to be background music, from the first seconds of Cheerleader Corpses onwards, and the album just does not let up. It's incredible to hear the smoothness with which, say, Scatology Homework slides into Trojan Whore, pounding headbanger riffs grinding out with absolute perfection, and the following oddness of Ghost Of A Bullet is a nice change-up before the slow Heart And Crossbones sludges along in less than fifty seconds. I could recount track upon track, riff upon riff, so well is the album put together, yet it's towards the end that the album really becomes beyond amazing, as good as the likes of Mapplethorpe Grey and Sheet Metal Girl are. Hyperviolet draws your attention immediately, being the longest track thus far on the album at over three minutes, and practically forces an imprint on your mind with its complex drum patterns and almost proggy riffs, mid-track droning driving you to the point of near-dementia before it collapses in on itself. The following Starbelly (at over five minutes even longer) continues the drone before turning gnarly and violent, pure Sludge Metal pouring into your ears. Junkyard God strips everything down to drums for the first thirty seconds before galloping into action, and Piss Angel finishes things off in a seven-minute crunchdown, which has to be heard to be believed.

Even now, several hundred listens later, it's hard to believe how good Prowler In The Yard is, the sheer quality coming over however many times you play it - and you will play it over and over again, believe me. In some ways I prefer it to the generally praised Terrifyer, which lives up to its name by being a mad screaming bastard of an album - awesome, sure, but Prowler In The Yard has a subtlety and intelligence in construction to it that's rarely found in the genre. Whichever you prefer, you're not a proper Grindhead unless you've heard both, and it's the rare extremist who doesn't become addicted to this band once he's been exposed.

Killing Songs :
All, but Trojan Whore, Mapplethorpe Grey, Sheet Metal Girl, Hyperviolet, Starbelly, Junkyard God and Piss Angel especially are great
Goat quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Pig Destroyer that we have reviewed:
Pig Destroyer - Mass & Volume reviewed by Koeppe and quoted no quote
Pig Destroyer - Book Burner reviewed by Bar and quoted 95 / 100
Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb reviewed by Adam and quoted 90 /100
Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer reviewed by Aaron and quoted 95 / 100
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