The cover of Pig Destroyer’s album The Octagonal Stairway. Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Pig Destroyer have been at the forefront of grindcore for more than 20 years, and over that time they’ve found a way to push the notoriously rigid style into far-reaching spaces. Helmed by guitarist Scott Hull (also the mastermind behind psychotic “cybergrind” outfit Agoraphobic Nosebleed), the Virginia band started out playing fairly standard grindcore in the 90s: 30-second songs with tortured screams, incomprehensible high-end riffs, and nonstop blastbeats. As the decades have passed, their songs have slowly gotten longer, their rhythms more complex, and the fidelity of their albums more atmospheric. On the brand-new The Octagonal Stairway (Relapse) they deliver their most progressive six tracks yet. The first half of the EP is classic Pig Destroyer—topsy-turvy, punishing grind that dips into sludgy breakdowns and punky passages—but since each track flirts with the four-minute mark, you could argue that this is epic stuff by grindcore standards. On side B, Pig Destroyer go full electronic-industrial, with swaths of synth drones and samples anchored by a snappy digital rhythm section. The Octagonal Stairway is brutal and varied, a standout in a genre that can feel inhospitable to experimentation. Like every Pig Destroyer release, it proves that they’re among the best at what they do and offers an exciting look at the future.   v