We end the first round with a particularly noisy contest between two bands that revel in being outside the metal mainstream, two acts returning after a five-year absence.
Pig Destroyer's 32-minute Book Burner is an instant grindcore classic. All the elements you'd come to expect from the genre are in full force on this album — blast beats, microsongs, and disgusting vocals — but with two significant improvements. First, while there's still no bass on the album, Book Burner marks as much of a refinement in production values as as Carcass's evolution from Symphonies Of Sickness to Necroticism. Second, tracks such as The Diplomat, The Bug, and Baltimore Strangler are undeniably songlike. But don't let that, or passing references to riffs from Slayer, Mastodon, and Napalm Death, trick you into thinking this is a watered-down sellout. No other album in 2012 treats the listener with such obvious gratifying contempt.
By comparison, Unsane's Wreck is as melodic and morose as it is familiar. There's no attempt here to redefine the band's vocabulary, just more of the same feeling of urban decay that's been at the heart of Unsane's ethos all along. It's as potent a formula as ever, and Decay is as good a song as any other in Unsane's catalogue. Wreck is excellent, but no match for Pig Destroyer's energetic onslaught.
That's it! The first 32 battles are over, and the metal battlefield is littered with foes, once great, now vanquished. Tomorrow, we take things to the next level, with Meshuggah fighting As I Lay Dying.