Five things learned from Pig Destroyer's CMJ show:
1. Hipsters can get down.
The blend of CMJ pass holders and metalhead ticket buyers was an awkward one, unable to work up a mosh pit for the first three acts. However, smartphones and plastic cups disappeared within seconds of guitarist Scott Hull's first grindcore riff, kicking off a night of involuntary movement to some seriously undanceable music. Now you know why their latest, Book Burner, is streaming on NPR.
2. Early Graves needed Makh Daniels.
It's agonizing and unfair. Shortly after releasing the first great thrash album of this decade, Early Graves lost their lead singer to a van accident. They're carrying on with a new singer and noble perseverance, but they sound like they belong in the hardcore heap now.
3. Book Burner was worth the wait.
Five years after Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer have gotten better at everything they do. Calling it grindcore seems like a disservice, like all those Napalm Death records that you listened to just once or Cattle Decapitation before they got into jazz. The riffs thrash, the drums threaten to kick everything out from under and the songs are addictive.
4. The lyrics still don't matter.
Early reviews of Book Burner are making much of how singer J. R. Hayes reads Henry Miller and Cormac McCarthy and brings their influence to his lyrics. Advance copies must come with lyrics sheets, because I couldn't understand a word that he screamed all night. However, like Mike Patton or Frank Zappa, the sounds that he brings together and enunciates in his lyrics are engrossing, unsettling and funny enough for you to not worry about Tropic of Cancer.
5. The show matters.
Pig Destroyer headbang in place, incite horns-flashing and bellow the names of their songs, just like hundreds of club metal bands you've seen before. But it felt like they invented every move.