Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Burner v. Agnus Dei

Grindcore Showdown


To just about everybody, Pig Destroyer’s Book Burner is one of the most anticipated records of the year, and easily the most anticipated grindcore record of the year. To me, it’s number two for grind-ticipation, and The Secret’s Agnus Dei is number three.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I simply don’t have my ear tuned into the subtleties of grindcore. I assume they exist, the only evidence being that I like some grind more than other grind, and can’t always explain why. So it may be more helpful to me, and to you, if I discuss these two records comparatively.

Although grindcore usually seems extremely one-dimensional to me (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), both of these records have much more variety than I expected. Neither of them ever goes at what could fairly be called a slow tempo, but there are many tempo changes. The rhythms can either punish or groove. The latter is surprising, because I tend to think of groove happening at mid-tempo, though either one of these bands can groove your spine into knots at breakneck speed. Both records are unrelentingly aggressive and abrasive, as you might expect.

Where they differ is in their fundamental starting points. Pig Destroyer begins at grindcore and incorporates some death metal. Nearly all of their songs are around a minute long, and they sound like a punk band playing metal, particularly in the drumming and hardcore-inflected vocals. The Secret, on the other hand, start with black metal and play it with loads of the insanity of grindcore. Their songs are more likely to approach the three minute mark, and they sound like an especially aggressive black metal band, again, most notably in the blackened drumming and raspy vocals.

Both of these bands are excellent at what they do, and the records are superb. In the end, which one you prefer is going to come down to which band is more in line with your musical philosophy. For me, that’s The Secret, because I enjoy the blackened sound and the songs are much easier to grasp onto. I find in their favor.

The Verdict:
Book Burner: 4 out of 5 stars
(Buy It)
Agnus Dei: 4.5 out of 5 stars (Buy It)


  1. I absolutely cannot stand The Secret but count Phantom Limb as one of my favourite grind records, so I am really looking forward to hearing Book Burner. Which given my preference for hardcore-influenced metal aligns nicely with your assessment!

  2. I enjoyed this post! You made some of the same kinds of comments about Book Burner that I did in my blog post on this album. My taste in metal is either I like it or I don't and grindcore is one subgenre that eludes me. If you want to see my blog it is at Metallomusikum.com