First of all, I'm NOT one of these close-minded people who thinks grindcore is just a bunch of "mindless stupid noise." In fact, I love many of the pioneering grindcore bands and the occasional newer band. With that said, I think this Pig Destroyer album is a good example to exactly what's wrong with modern grindcore in general.
While I know that not everything in grindcore is supposed to be taken seriously, Pig Destroyer really hurt themselves just with their name alone (yes, I know that it's another way of saying "cop killer," but it sounds goofy). It also doesn't help that the album cover, despite having gory imagery on it, looks goofy in the end, and the same can be said with the song titles and lyrics. These guys should have taken a cue from Unseen Terror on how to incorporate moments of silliness into their music.
Yes, "Prowler in the Yard" does have elements that are staples of the grindcore genre. Blastbeats are certainly there as are the aggressive guitar riffs and vocals. However, if you're a fan of the really caustic, gritty, and deathly forms of grindcore pioneered in the mid-late 80's, chances are you'll hate this. Having some restraint from over-the-top aggression can work sometimes in grindcore, the problem with this album in general is that there's TOO MUCH restraint. Too often are there breakdowns and mid-paced half-thrash riffs popping up in songs that break the bursts of aggression essential to grindcore, and it doesn't help that there's sonic elements in this album that sound too absurd, like the use of Microsoft speaking programs to narrate parts of songs. Some may say that this helps make the music sound more unique, but unique doesn't automatically equal good, as this sounds really forced and bland, despite the aggressive elements found. The vocals are more in line with modern hardcore bands than with the gravely shouts and death metal vocals found in the pioneering grindcore bands, and while this isn't a problem if these vocals are done right, they sound too obnoxious and forced here.
J.R. Hayes is the vocalist on this album, and he's among the weakest links on here. Again, his vocals are more in line with modern hardcore bands, but he sounds like he's trying way too hard to sound intense and whatnot on this album. Hayes does the occasional death metal vocals on songs like "Mapplethorpe Grey," but they sound more like a parody of death metal vocals than vocals even worthy of licking the boots of masters like Martin van Drunen, Ross Dolan, and Mike van Mastrigt. There weren't any vocals on this album that I thought were any good.
Scott Hull handled the guitars on this album, and they were forgettable above everything else, despite the frequent attempts to do more than play fast. Again, the problem is that Hull's riffs just don't grab you and make you want to bang your head furiously like what proper grindcore riffs should do, and the frequent use of restraint keeps you from feeling like you're listening to a real grindcore album. Some riffs that stuck out to me the most are the breakdown-laden riffs featured in "Starbelly," but despite the attempts to sound heavy, they sound more boring than anything else. These riffs are nowhere as heavy and awesome as the prime riffs in Electric Wizard. There were some pretty awesome, aggressive riffs in the beginning of "P*ss Angel," but that's really all I can remember that I would consider good.
Bass is literally non-existent because no bass tracks were recorded. As far as I know, Pig Destroyer doesn't have a bassist, but you think they would at least hire a session bassist for recording in this album. Maybe this is why so many of the riffs don't feel so heavy because there's no bass to bolster them.
Brian Harvey is a competent grindcore drummer, though I honestly couldn't remember much that stuck out at me.
All the songs on here range from being annoying to downright forgettable. The album goes off to a bad start with "Jennifer," as this is merely a Microsoft speech program narrating with some noise coming in near the end of it. Again, the rest either didn't grab me or just annoyed me badly. Some songs that annoyed me the most were "Mapplethorpe Grey," "Evacuating Heaven," and "Body Scout." These feature the most obnoxious and annoying vocals, and therefore, make them the least tolerable. "P*ss Angel" starts off with some decent metal riffs, but quickly loses momentum and around the halfway point, features more goofy Microsoft speech narration followed by a bunch of weird ambient noise that goes on until it ends.
The production of this album was pretty bad. The sound quality is too clean for a grindcore album, and the vocals were mixed way too high, making their obnoxious qualities all the more obvious to the listener. You can clearly hear the guitars, drums, and other instrumental elements, but again, they lack the grimy atmosphere that strongly enhances the grindcore genre.
If you're new to grindcore, avoid "Prowler in the Yard" like the bubonic plague. Instead, sink your teeth on the following albums and boxed set.
Napalm Death: Scum Repulsion: Horrified Siege: Drop Dead Rotten Sound: Cycles Unseen Terror: Human Error Carcass: Reek of Putrefaction Terrorizer: World Downfall Extreme Noise Terror: A Holocaust in Your Head Grind Madness at the BBC
These grindcore releases didn't goof around with their music, unlike this album.