J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer (all photos and video by Robert Hanna)
Virginia’s atmospheric grindcore champions Pig Destroyer descended upon El Corazon in a whirlwind of frenzied blast beats, deafening guitars, and spraying water from both club security as well as PD’s own electronics wizard and hypeman Blake Harrison. It has been a few years since the group last toured on their 2007 Relapse release Phantom Limb, which by and large was one of the most intense grindcore/metal records of the past decade. With newly recruited drummer Adam Jarvis from Baltimore’s deathgrind heroes Misery Index, Pig Destroyer delivered a solid hour of brutality and the audience at El Corazon was rowdy and widely receptive. The group played material spanning all of their albums, but primarily focused on Phantom Limb and 2004’s Terrifyer, which was a groundbreaking release for the band and the grind genre itself. What separates Pig Destroyer from your run-of-the-mill grindcore band is their attention to aural aesthetic and emotion. There are prevailing themes of violence and fear that have permeated their last two releases, but rather than the tried and true “blood and guts” lyrical philosophy, the group relies on psychological imagery and built-up tension to create their world. It’s quite a unique thing to experience live, and like their aforementioned album, the band is absolutely terrifying. It’s like watching Cape Fear as opposed to Nightmare on Elm Street, perhaps. Co-headlining the gig was Relapse label mates and perpetual touring husband and wife doom duo Jucifer, who played against a literal wall of amps which they cart around in their signature Winnebago. Jucifer had the unfortunate position of being the slowest band of the evening, although many of their songs do breakdown into more aggressive territory. The disadvantage of the attractive wall of amps is that the band is so deafeningly loud that it is sometimes impossible to sit through a whole set.
Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer
Gazelle Amber Valentine of Jucifer
The evening also saw the final performance from Tacoma hardcore purveyors Owen Hart, who had recently received a cease and desist letter for use of their name from the Owen Hart Foundation and will be playing under a different moniker from here out. Owen Hart’s singer Timm Trust furiously paced back and forth belting out vocals, and outside of his typically aggressive demeanor you could tell that the recent legal complications surrounding their band, while amusing to some, must have been completely infuriating. The group had just dropped their debut full-length Earth Control last year after several years of building their name and DIY touring, and will have to start from scratch.
Vocalist Timm Trust of Owen Hart
The show also featured Theories, which is a new technical grind/metal project from members of Seattle groups Skarp, Book of Black Earth, Scourge Schematic, and Nautilus, to name a few. Backed by a battery of drummer Joe Axler’s non-stop double-bass and blast beats, Theories played like an At the Gates LP on 45 rpm; there were definite influences of melodic Swedish death metal played with hardcore sensibilities. Keep an eye on this manic 5-piece as they embark down the West Coast later this October with Portland’s Transient. Also opening were Everett-Seattle crust grinders Numb, who walk a tightrope between Dystopia-style dirges and just straight up dirty crust punk. My personal highlight of the evening was watching Olympia-Seattle punks White Wards, who exploded into a ten-minute set of chaotic, yet somehow precise hardcore. Taking heavily from the Siege/Void school of old school American hardcore, this four piece turned on, destroyed, and shut down in such a short amount of time it was hard to comprehend what was actually happening.
Guitarist Blake Wolf of Theories
Numb live at El Corazon