A quick glance at the cover for Pig Destroyer’s 2001 debut LP Prowler in the Yard gives the listener an idea of what they are about to encounter. There, in a shadow-filled room atop a blood-soaked take surrounded by dismembered body parts, a snarling figure in a filthy wife-beater sits sawing off his appendages. It’s a brutal, unsettling image that manages to put a visual to the visceral grindcore that lies just behind the horrific cover.
Throughout, mercifully brief blasts of sound assault the senses, creating an hallucinatory, wildly disorienting listening experience, one dredged up from the deepest, darkest nightmare. Ostensibly a concept album detailing the final thoughts of the titular prowler as he sits outside his ex-girlfriend’s house, the titles offer little in the way of insight into the impenetrable, growled lyrics spewed forth by vocalist J.R. Hayes. But it doesn’t take an understanding of the lyrics to gather the basic sentiments they ultimately convey.
Technically demanding with whiplash-inducing stops and starts, Prowler in ihe Yard is the pummeling sound of a grindcore group operating at full throttle. And with most songs clocking in under a minute and a half, it’s a blistering series of snarling guitars, blastbeat drums and unhinged screaming that never stick around long enough to be tiresome. “Naked Trees”, one of perhaps the most traditionally structured metal tracks here, features Slayer-esque dueling guitars and impossibly tight snare drumming from Brian Harvey.
Part of the problem with this particular style, however, is the stylistic similarity throughout. With the majority of tracks barely breaking the 60-second mark, these are more a series of frantic sprints than recognizable, individualized tracks. Given the group’s propensity for stop-on-a-dime breaks, it tends to be difficult to determine whether they have moved on to another song or if it’s a continuation of the current track. Add to that the blistering, but ultimately similar tempos throughout and you have an album best approached as being of a whole rather than made up of clearly demarcated ideas.
In that, Prowler in the Yard is an unrelentingly brutal aural nightmare from which there seems to be no escape. Clearly the intent, they wildly succeed in creating a claustrophobic horror scenario in miniature. When they finally do stretch out as on “Hyperviolet”, their approach is like a taffy pull of their usual sound, slowly stretching out the sense of unease over the course of three-and-a-half minutes rather than less than a third of that.
At nearly five minutes and featuring an extended atonal drone intro that suddenly explodes into the expected grindcore blast, “Starbelly” functions as a requisite jump-scare that then continues largely unabated for the remainder of the track. Slowing slightly, the guitars become the sound of chainsaws with Hayes’ strangled shouts pleading from the center. It’s a swirling vortex, a sonic morass from which there is no escape. Here they reaffirm their status as one of the more brutal bands to come out of the insular grindcore scene.
Calling this reissue “deluxe” is somewhat of a misnomer as it only adds one track (the 51-second “Unreleased Untitled”) and features a remix of the original 36-minute album alongside the original mix on a second disc. But at 23 brutally abrasive tracks, that’s all one can really ask for or need from an unrelentingly visceral band like Pig Destroyer. Prowler in the Yard is a waking nightmare set to some of the most disconcertingly aggressive sounds imaginable. And, strangely, that’s a good thing.
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