PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Pig Destroyer: Mass and Volume EP

This EP bears the mark of idle hands merely wanting to keep busy.


Pig Destroyer

Mass and Volume EP

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2014-10-14
UK Release Date: 2014-10-13
Amazon
iTunes

There’s a backstory to Pig Destroyer’s Mass and Volume EP, and it is thus. It was recorded at the tail end of the sessions for 2007’s Phantom Limb album, and then it was shelved. However, it was released in 2013 as a limited edition digital download to help benefit an employee who had passed away at the band’s record label. Now, it is finally being released properly across compact disc, vinyl and digital formats. The EP simply consists of two songs. “Mass” runs for 19 minutes. “Volume” (also known as “Red Tar”, but my digital copy references the former) is about six and a half minutes. And that’s it. That’s all.

Pig Destroyer is known as a grindcore band that is usually pretty quick and nimble – 13 of the songs on their last album, Book Burner, ran less than two minutes long. Mass and Volume, on the other hand, sees the band stretching out, and bringing the pace down to a crawl. So if you’re a fan of the band, Mass and Volume is something completely different to get used to. If you buy the album, that is. And, while it is mildly enjoyable in a Boris-esque, drone rock kind of way, I would recommend trying before buying, if you can, because, man, there’s not much to say about this, even though I will prattle on here. It’s simply below average.

In fact, Mass and Volume is lacking a clear direction. “Mass” just trudges throughout the course of its runtime, comprised mainly of feedback squalor and simple riffing. I’ll tell you the truth: I can’t play the guitar to save my life (which means not at all), but if you gave me a day or two and taught me some simple chord progressions, I would probably be able to exactly replicate “Mass” note for note. It’s pretty simple, there’s not much to it. Another thing is that the vocals are undecipherable, period. And that’s when there are vocals, as “Mass” is Spartan on that front. I know that this is a convention of the metal genre – the words are meaningless in context to the emotion behind them – but when you have a nearly 20 minute song that is just full of sustained chords, and then you enter in with pig grunts, it almost sounds as though you’re critiquing the simplicity of the music. So Pig Destroyer suffers a fail on that front.

However, “Mass” does have its charms in a way. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this brilliant, and give me a Sunn O))) album any day, it does work if you’re just going around the house, doing various tasks while listening to this. Or, perhaps more apt, this is the sort of thing you might want to smoke a joint to. The antecedent for this is probably Sleep’s “Dopesmoker”, which, of course, runs more than an hour. However, “Dopesmoker” is tremendous, and has movements within movements, and is the sort of thing that, listening to it, creates a sort of high or state of euphoria. “Mass”, on the other hand, is kinda boring. It doesn’t invite close listening, and basically works best as a soundtrack to whatever background activity that you’re doing. May I suggest vacuuming?

So what about “Volume” (or “Red Tar”, or whatever the heck it’s officially called)? Well, it’s generally faster, with repetitive riffing. However, it also plods along in its own way. Compared to “Mass”, “Volume” is played at a breakneck speed, for all its mid-tempo step. In some ways, it’s a stab at the heaviness that Black Sabbath used to make in the ‘70s. That point of familiarity works against it, though, rendering it as something not very special and something that you’ve heard all before. I’m not really sure what to make of it. “Volume” is never going to be anyone’s favourite metal song, especially with so much good stuff out there vying for your attention, if not classic stuff that warrants revalidation. “Volume” does not warrant that. It’s nice, it’s OK, it doesn’t throw your mountain down into the sea, it just is. But coupling it with “Mass” is a head scratcher. It’s hard to say how these two songs compliment each other in any way.

I’d love to get inside the collective brains of those in the band, and figure out what they were thinking about these two songs, and this collection as a whole. However, the sinking feeling I get is that, yep, the band had a few hours worth of recording time that they wanted to burn off, and just wrote a couple of songs on the fly. Still, I don’t know why slowing things down was considered to be a tool in their arsenal, considering their history for loud fast rules.

All in all, the Mass and Volume EP isn’t a total washout. It’s perplexing, and if you have an inclination to solving mind puzzles, this will provide quite easily hours of entertainment because you’ll be grasping at straws trying to figure out how these two things work. And it’s not bad. It’s just that it’s not really all that good, either. Think of it this way: these songs were recorded in 2007, but not released until 2013. That’s a six year gap, seven if you count this release as being the “official” one. One has to wonder and question why bother to release this as a standalone album or EP in the first place. Would the band have been better served waiting 20 years and then appending these two songs to a deluxe, remastered edition of Phantom Limb when the timing was right? Hard to tell.

As a standalone release, however, Mass and Volume doesn’t really work all that well. Its two songs are not closely enough related to one another in style and sound, really. And the EP bears the mark of idle hands merely wanting to keep busy. That’s fine, but, to some, it may have been better if the band simply didn’t release this stuff at all, excepting as a bonus to the already existing disc. Put this another way: the title of the EP lies. There is neither mass nor volume to this. It simply just murmurs on. That might be fine for fans, but, honestly, you’ve heard this someplace else. If you have, you’ll probably agree that it has been done oh so much better. Really, the end result is one where the effort feels squandered. Pig Destroyer has received their share of critical acclaim in the past. Mass and Volume will probably make that elusive this time out. Nice try, but ultimately no cigar.

4

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.