Maryland Deathfest XI is over, and I am having a hard time processing everything. In fact, I am a little depressed.
But I think I will make the effort to mention one of the smaller bands that really affected me. Contrastic, a recently reformed grindcore band from the Czech Republic, played early on Sunday. I had listened to some of their stuff online prior to the show and was really curious. I also was aware that they played opposite of Glorior Belli, whom I also wanted to check out. I had to make some decisions.
Fortunately, Glorior Belli was really boring. So after listening to about two songs from them, I wandered back across the Sonar compound to find Contrastic throwing a heavy metal disco party in the tent.
Generally, grindcore bands are hit or miss for me. Mostly, all I hear is angry screaming and very little recognizable melody. Contrastic has plenty of angry shouting, but they infuse it with funky, jazzy, electronic and industrial samples. The singer was incredibly dynamic and funny, and the band was super tight and on point. It was an amazing blend of death metal with just everything and anything really weird. No rules. There was nothing I didn’t like. The whole place was alive and rocking.
Remember, this is praise coming from a person who listens to a lot of black metal, and hardly any grindcore. Recall, I walked away from Glorior Belli to listen to Contrastic.
Lyrically, Contrastic seem to be tackling lots of social and political ills. The electronic samples give their songs a modern, cyber depersonalized sound, which seems appropriate. I didn’t find any of their CDs (maybe I was not looking in the right places) but would like to find some. I did pick up their t-shirt. If you like Pig Destroyer but have not heard Contrastic, I urge you to give them a listen. Keep an open mind, because I think you will dig them. I’ve included a few tracks.
When it comes to music, my opinion is based on a binary system: either I like it or I don’t. Pig Destroyer is a band labeled as grindcore that I had heard many people mention, but I had never checked them out. I didn’t know if I liked them or not.
I was fortunate enough to preview Book Burner in its entirety. Even though grindcore is not my go-to subgenre of metal, there are several of the 19 songs included in the standard edition that I really liked and had to play repeatedly to appreciate the full impact of. I mention a few of my favorites below.
If you buy the deluxe edition of the recording, you also get seven more tracks: all covers of songs by seminal punk bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat and Negative Approach. I love punk, so I am curious to hear those.
Here’s my email Q&A with Blake Harrison. Enjoy!
I have listened to Book Burner and several of the songs are real stand outs for me (“The Diplomat,” “Iron Drunk,” “The Bug,” and “Baltimore Strangler,” for example). But grindcore is a subgenre of music that I probably know the least about. How do you describe grindcore and what about it do you think people (some people) find so appealing? Why does it appeal to you?
B- Grindcore is subversive, it’s the extreme of the extreme, it borrows from both extreme metal and hardcore punk. It appeals to us because it’s something we grew up on, we love grind and play it because we love it.
Grindcore seems pretty challenging both thematically and structurally to write. Any writer will tell you that it is HARDER to get your point across in a short story or article. How do the typical earmarks of this subgenre (short songs, haiku like lyrics) affect how you compose the songs? How difficult is it to write lyrics for this type of music? What is written first: the music or the words?
What is the message that you want people to take away from your lyrics?
Why was J.R.’s The Atheist included with this release?
B- JR approached us with the story as a companion piece for the record. We read it and thought it was amazing. It’s not a part of a greater whole for example there’s not really a “theme” to the record.
When I began reading The Atheist, I first thought that it was going to be a personal essay. I quickly realized it was a work of fiction, a fantasy. But what can you tell me about how much J.R. (or any of you) identify personally with the protagonist? I know that I did. I have felt and thought these things about religion many times.
B- I can’t speak for everyone in the band, but sometimes yes. Religion is a personal thing and can get to the core of many people and one of the things about this, is it strikes that chord in me. I’m sure there’s SOME part of JR that identifies with it, I mean, he wrote it, but I can’t speak personally for him. Personally, I think that religion is responsible for most of society’s ills.
B- Hahaha, who knows, we just finished the record so we don’t really have too much in the way of what we’re going to do in the future. I can say that if JR feels he wants to continue the story, he will.
B- Adam is an amazing talent and a great guy. He really stepped up to the plate and brought his “A game” on this release. I think he brings a great energy to the band and makes us faster and more fierce.
All of you seem to be involved in multiple projects. How do you manage that, and how does it impact Pig Destroyer?
B- It can be a juggling act at times, but we don’t do the band full time, I mean we all have jobs, relationships, families etc. It takes some careful timing and a lot of communication to get all of this together and make sure that we have the time to do what we do.
B- We had a lot going on, it may seem like we weren’t up to much, but we built a studio and practice space, we took some time to play some shows and support Phantom Limb, we had to work in a new drummer. I know to a lot of people it seems like we were being lazy, but we were working.
You’ve got a slot for Maryland Deathfest! While you are there, what other bands playing are you hoping to see? What do you think of the additional punk/hardcore stage scheduled for Baltimore Soundstage?
B- There’s a lot, Infest, Asthma Castle, Integrity, Loss, Necropsy, Repulsion, TOOH, Down, Ilsa, Iron Lung, Magrudergrind, Rotten Sound, Weekend Nachos. I think the addition of the other stage is great. I just hope I can get to see everyone that I want too.
I am looking forward to the Oct. 19 show at The Ottobar. What specific items will you have for sale there?
After the Ottobar you are headed to the UK. What is the grindcore scene like there and in Europe in general? How do people react at your shows?
What else do you want people to know or understand about your new recording or anything else at all?
B- We just hope that people like it and understand it, I mean ultimately, we do this for us, but it’s nice when people get it. I’d also like to say thanks to the fans for bearing with us, it’s been a long road, but we’re here and back again, and the fact that people still want us to be is incredible.
Buy tickets to Pig Destroyer’s Oct. 19 CD release show with Ilsa here.
Check out the title track from Pig Destroyer’s new album, Book Burner below:
The deluxe edition of this release will include 2-CDs, a 19-song compendium of misanthropy. And if that were not enough to set your teeth on edge, the package will also include bonus disc collection of punk covers called The Atheist.
Pig Destroyer have several shows coming up in support of Book Burner, including an appearance at the 2013 Maryland Deathfest. Those days include:
Sept. 28: Calgary, Canada Noctis Fest
Oct. 18: Brooklyn, NY MetalSucks/Metal Injection CMJ showcase @ Public Assembly
Oct. 19: Baltimore, MD Ottobar (w/ Royal Thunder) (CD Release Show)
Nov. 1: Brighton, UK The Haunt
Nov. 2: London, UK The Garage
Nov. 3: Leeds, UK Damnnation Festival
Jan. 19: Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer w/ Municipal Waste, Repulsion, Tombs
May 23 – 26: Baltimore, MD Maryland Deathfest XI