The Octagonal Stairway is the 5th EP from US grindcore stalwarts Pig Destroyer. It’s a brutal assault of rapid-fire drums and heavy riffage, general noise and guttural vocals that may well set your speakers on fire, or at least annoy your neighbours. Former Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera makes a guest appearance.
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It’s a brave one is this one. Here one of the most celebrated groups in the whole of the extreme subgenre that is grindcore follow their most divisive album yet with an EP which is half groove and grind and half electronic, ambient and noise. ‘Head Cage’, with its Integrity worship and metalcore influence, disappointed a lot of fans longing for the chaos of grotesque classics ‘Prowler In The Yard’ and ‘Terrifyer’. Even before the bemoaned ‘Head Cage’ however, Scott Hull and co. were indulging in sludge, doom, thrash and death in records like ‘Natasha’ and ‘Phantom Limb’. ‘The Octagonal Stairway’ is sure to split the crowd once again. Many will be put off by its trialling of newfound genres, whilst others will relish the experimentation.
The EP begins in classic Pig Destroyer style with the title track, a fully chaotic romp of breakneck tempos, pummelling double kicks, squealing notes, and bouncing low-tuned riffs. Lead single ‘Cameraman’ switches proceedings up with melodic chords, electronic noodling, and tempo changes which border on mathcore frenzy. ‘The Cavalry’ is a more straightforward thrashier number with barked yells shouted to split up the pace of the rapid punk metal. These three tracks mix classic early Pig Destroyer with the metalcore and head bang grooves of ‘Head Cage’ and ‘Phantom Limb’. J.R. Hayes’ vocals are a lot less caustic than initial PD releases, whilst the beefier production of recent records is retained.
And now for something completely different. ‘News Channel’ signals in the second half of the record with a foreboding broadcast to an instrumental backing made-up of warped industrial and wired electronics. The 11-minute long ‘Sound Walker’ closes the EP on a steadily dread-inducing note, mimicking horror survival game soundtracks with shrill rusty metal-on-metal squeaks, creepy dark ambient and swelling drones. Fans who exclusively listen to ‘evvy shit may be put off by this one, but those into their gloomy doom or twisted electronic music will find it satisfyingly foreboding.
Pig Destroyer won’t be reverting back to those ugly early records anytime soon, as ‘The Octagonal Stairway’ suggests further future investigations into twisted electronic music and pitch-black atmospherics. It’s a bold move, but an incredibly satisfying one nonetheless.
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