Pig Destroyer don’t destroy any pigs on their new album. Sadly, there also is a distinct lack of the sound of cages being destroyed, although the title is likely metaphorical.
Head Cage is Pig Destroyer’s new album.

After the noisy opener of “Tunnel Under the Tracks”, Head Cage mostly sticks to a formula. Most of the songs focus on straightforward groove but occasionally a greater focus on grindcore will surface.

Head Cage is fairly consistent in sound. Noise is used well, the guitar and bass are usually moving around a fair bit. The drumming does a lot without overplaying and is quite tight, and the vocals sound abrasive and raw. Pig Destroyer function well together, the lyrics remain poetic and appropriate, and so on and so forth.

There are a few catchier moments, such as parts of “Army of Cops” and “Circle River”, which feel consciously designed for chorus singalongs. Anytime something like this appears, it feels appropriate to both the song as well as the album as a whole.

Overall the songs, whilst as direct as ever, are much more straightforward. There’s less room for intricacy or exploration and quite often the band sound like they’re playing it safe. That’s not to say that there isn’t any exploration; there are times where Pig Destroyer push outward and those moments really work well. However, many songs are “middle of the road” and stay firmly there, so to speak. At times this causes Head Cage to feel like it drags.

Combined with the poor mastering and Head Cage can become a tiring listen. There are points where the songs sound like they should jump forward, but they don’t as the whole record sounds uniformly flat. Many of the songs end up blending into each other which leads to them sounding muddy and indistinct..

Pig Destroyer have reigned themselves in a bit and the album is less out there than their usual fare. All of what makes Pig Destroyer Pig Destroyer is still there; plenty of complex riffing, complex drumming and well-written vocals delivered harshly. Noise builds on song structures. Everything delivered in a way that rejects showing off so the focus remains on the music, and it’s clear that Pig Destroyer are enthusiastic about what they’re doing. However, there’s not much to bite onto. Outside of a few listens the songs pass by with little impact. The talent and skill to craft a good song is all there and in no way are the songs on Head Cage bad. They are good and sometimes great songs, but the approach means that most of them don’t stand out.

Head Cage is audible here.