Welcome to another edition of Versus, the series where we look at two albums in metal history and compare them to each other, and see which one was the better record.
In this edition, buckle up because we’re going as fast as we can with a grindcore-themed edition of Versus. Both releases with 22 tracks, both releases clock in a little over a half hour, both released on Relapse Records, and just chaos incarnate musically. Let’s see which one hits harder and faster than the other with this battle I’m calling “Grinding To A Halt”
In this corner, we have U.S. grindcore act Pig Destroyer with their second album, 2001’s Prowler in The Yard. Following a dark and demented story of love, obsession and gore, Prowler is thirty-six minutes of short, fast bursts of frenetic and chaotic grindcore. As a three piece, the distorted and sporadic playing of guitarist Scott Hull, combined with the shrieking and intense vocals of J.R. Hayes, and blistering drumming by Brian Harvey, the band created a record of organized chaos with random blasts and intense destruction in sonic form.
The record starts with “Jennifer,” a digital reading of demented and sadistic lyrics of bondage and sadism with ringing distorted feedback adding to the eeriness. Setting an uncomfortable tone and opening to the record. We kick off with “Cheerleader Corpses,” opened with blast beats and heavy distorted guitars into screaming, almost hardcore punk vocals, into more fast-paced up-tempo blast beats, bleeding into the next track “Scatology Homework.” The record is just track after track of blistering, agonizing musical insanity. As soon as one starts, it just blends into the next section of chaos. “Trojan Whore” has a great guitar riff throughout it, adding a little groove to the band’s grindcore playing. With a mid-tempo riff near the three quarters mark, its almost has a thrashy feel to it with the drums. Songs like “Ghost of A Bullet” and “Evacuating Heaven” are just sonic attacks on the listener with fast-paced, slow chugging into blast beats, matched with Hayes’ chaotic vocal delivery from high screams to death metal growls.
“Tickets To The Car Crash” gives off a Napalm Death intensity to the track, bringing a sonic punch to the face with the drums pummeling with the vocals morphing into a high pitched amalgamation at the end of the track. “Sheet Metal Girl” starts with a great chuggy style riff, reminds me of a more fast-paced Suffocation, until the song picks up with Hayes’ anguishing & shrieking vocals. “Pornographic Memory” has a pummeling double bass opening before going into a weird grindcore-tinged Dillinger Escape Plan style riff. The record is just relentless in pacing and fury, where there is almost no reprieve or break until the albums seven minute closer “Piss Angel,” ending with another twisted and sadistic spoken word section.
In the opposite corner, we have Sweden’s grindcore export Nasum with their third album, 2003’s Helvete. With some longer songs then it’s rival, the band still brings its ferocity and driving speed into their music. The band also fuses elements of melodic death metal into their take on grindcore, giving it a more dynamic and unique sound for the band. Let's see how they stack up against their American rivals.
Opening with “Violation”, drowning in distorted guitars, barking and guttural vocals and d-beat style drumming into blast beats, it’s a strong opener before segueing into “Scoop” and continuing the pacing of the record. The shrieks of late vocalist Mieszko Talarczyk, combined with the growls of Jesper Liveröd adds dynamics and an almost vibe of early Carcass in the vocal delivery. “Living Next Door To Malice” almost gives off a death metal vibe to the track, then forming into a grindcore track when the blast beats kick in. “Stormshield,” one of the longer tracks on the album, has all different genre elements in the track. It's got elements of death metal, grindcore, post-metal and hardcore in a beautiful destructive box and Nasum blends them all so well on the song. The bass tone on the track gives a great driving groove in-between the vocals. “Bullshit” is another burst of blasts and distorted guitars, fused with vocal turn-taking on the track and is one of my favorite tracks on the album.
“Relics” is another longer track but delivers with a consistent groove to the song, bringing a almost melodic death metal fusion of grindcore and punk mixed over the gunfire effects before the vocals kick back in. “Doombringer” is another good song opening with strong blasting drums by Anders Jakobson, before vocals kick in and is just growls and shrieks over driving snare hits. A standout track, “Just Another Hog,” brings a death metal and goregrind sound to the track through the distortion of the guitars and the quick start stop drumming is a nice edition to the track. “I Hate People” continue that kind of feel for the band as well as “Go!”. Nasum continues this driving and pummeling sonic journey, ending on the strong closing track “Worse Case Scenario”
So, after an hour of pummeling, headphones breaking, and driving guitars, who won this grindcore matchup? In my opinion, the winner is Pig Destroyer with Prowler in The Yard. The record is grindcore in its purest form. With the relentless track by track sonic annihilation, it fits the mold of grindcore and is a standout album for not only the band, but the genre itself. Nasum does deliver a strong record with Helvete. The band's mixture of goregrind-era Carcass with tinges of other genres is a nice addition to the genre and a great mix to the grindcore sound. Nasum would release one more record, 2004’s Shift, before the band would break up after the tragic death of Mieszko Talarczyk in the 2005 tsunami in Thailand. Pig Destroyer would continue to make more grindcore records, turning into a five-piece and released their most recent record in 2018 with Head Cage. Both bands have strong discographies and both have released great records in the grindcore genre, and a must-listen to for any fans of grindcore music.
Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won this battle? Leave your comments in the comments section below and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.