Primitive Man

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Scorn (2013), 6.5/10
Caustic (2017), 7.5/10
Immersion (2020), 5/10
Insurmountable (2022), 5/10

Colorado's trio Primitive Man was fronted by vocalist and guitarist Ethan McCarthy, who had already released Omega Drunk On The Blood Of Alpha (2008) and Songs Of Ill Hope And Desperation (2010) with grind/death-metal band Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire and the album Time & Money (2009) with Death Of Self. Primitive Man indulged in evil, blackened, doom-metal ceremonies on Scorn (2013), adding quite a bit of innovation to the beastly guttural vocals and the crushing and lumbering sounds of the genre. The eleven-minute Scorn displays the ups and downs of post-rock, the jarring atonal guitar repetitions of noise-rock, and the slow magniloquence of prog-rock, and ends with a coda during which the singer and the drummer basically stop and all is left is the droning radioactive feedback of the guitar, a section that borders on avantgarde electronic music. To prove that this is no accident, I Can't Forget is an interlude of ghostly industrial music, and Black Smoke is an interlude of psychedelic musique concrete. Each could be a major piece on the album of an avantgarde composer. The nine-minute Antietam rises from a bedlam of distortion to unleash a demonic square dance but then wavers and limps to an anemic decay. Stretched Thin condenses the fury of the previous songs into a three-minute eruption at much faster (not really "doom-y") speed.

At the same time Primitive Man released a double-LP of dark noise and ambient music, P//M (2013). The 17-minute Cum layers the scream of a man who is being tortured and sound effects. More effective are the 14-minute collage Decline for found sounds and screams, and the subliminal, ghostly, droning The Holes in the Walls are Like Holes in my Fucking Head.

The vocals are even more guttural and the sound even more crushing on the sprawling, 75-minute Caustic (2017). The dense and tense, pounding and lacerating, My Will ends up sounding like a funereal march when the vocals finally intone a melody. Victim starts out more brutal with guitar that shoot like machine-guns and drums that launch into a cow-punk gallop, but it soon gets stuck in a swamp of slow drumbeats and agonizing invocations. The 12-minute Commerce moves in reverse, from a slow catatonic beginning to an apocalyptic storm of guitar feedbacks that ranks as one of the genre's great solos of all time. Another dissonant guitar solo detonates the slow and lumbering Disfigured, otherwise drenched in crackling distortion. Likewise, Sterility proceeds at snail pace, slowly vomiting angst like a creature that is barely alive, and then picks up speed and erupts a punk-rock tornado. Some of the songs are theater, haunting recitations that drill into the heart of the spectator: a panzer-seismic rhythm scaffolds the meandering expressionist screams of the eight-minute Tepid, an orgy of tortured feelings; the twelve-minute Inevitable simply keeps building up tension without ever releasing it, all the way to the grave. The brief noise interludes Caustic, The Weight and Ash as well as the nine-minute closer Absolutes return to the dark ambient/noise soundscapes of P//M. The whole feels massive, relentless, exhausting. Perhaps the peak of McCarthy's career.

McCarthy then released another album of pure noise, Ripe Earth (2018), this time credited to Many Blessings, followed by the mini-album Trauma Artistry (2020) and the album Emanation Body (2020).

Primitive Doom's Immersion (2020) was a far less intimidating work than its predecessor, and also a lot shorter, leaving the impression that this was some kind of collection of unfinished projects and leftovers. The Lifer is an exhibition of Primitive Man cliches. Menacing tries to inject grindcore-grade blastbeats in the sludge. For two minutes Consumption is even more energetic, bordering on voodoobilly Entity is mostly an instrumental experiment of guitar noise. The one, partial, success of the album is Foul, in which the guitars emanate funereal angst in a way that is both melodic and dissonant (alas the vocals ruin the ending).

The 38-minute EP Insurmountable (2022) contains the stereotypical twelve-minute This Life, for guttural roar, cadaveric rhythm and guitar distortion that sounds like the amplified noise of a decomposing carcass, the dissonant dark ambient music of Boiled and the eleven-minute Cage Intimacy, whose second half is a shroud of static filthy drones.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )