6th October 2017 – Relapse Records
01. My Will
08. Sugar Hole
09. The Weight
Primitive Man play an especially violent, lugubrious take on doom metal. In the main, their sound isn’t very diverse or complex; thunderous, ponderous doom riffs meander to their natural conclusion and then plough on further, dissolving into walls of noise. Where latest album Caustic deviates, it generally does so in the form of harsh, abrasive noise or foreboding, sinister atmospherics as a foil to the muddy, riff-heavy mix.
The record lurches at an achingly slow pace. Aside from some of their noise deviances there’s some space reserved for some shorter noise-instrumental tracks such as “The Weight“. There are some moments of surprise; the last moments of “Commerce” feature some sudden blast beats which shock the song back into life, and feedback squeals at the intro to “Tepid” are anything but. It’s important for a band who are so unforgiving to have moments that stop this from just being an unrelenting slog; they elevate it from a record that sounds just pretty great to one that’s dynamic and memorable, and no less punishing.
The second half of the record unfolds with similar mass and volume, but with a bit more pace; “Sterility” is one of the more immediately captivating and imperious tracks. The latter tracks seem to hold together a little more; “Sugar Hole“‘s fade-out is extremely foreboding, but album closer “Absolutes” is a rumble of pure noise. This is the culmination of several shorter noise tracks dotted throughout the main body of the record and adds an extra dimension to the often formless doom. There are heavy suggestions of black metal embedded in their sound, especially the notable in the riffs alongside the other influences. These additional textures are rammed together which helps inform their chaotic, unforgiving sound.
Primitive Man are a firm favourite for a lot of doom fans for a good reason; they’re incredibly effective at hitting an abrasive sweet spot. This record is an especially compelling example, not just because they continue to nail their brutal take on doom/ sludge but because of the noise divergences; these feel like a natural conclusion to their sound, as often foreboding as they are a come-down from an especially mortifying part of the record.
It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here; there’s an excellent balance of the thick, swampy sound they’ve already established and some extremely unsettling deviations from form. Primitive Man sound especially on-form here and Caustic sticks out as a particularly dark, murky offering from them.
Like a more violent, edgier Conan, Primitive Man’s take on doom isn’t just loud and dramatic; it’s pretty fucking frightening, achieving that by messing with the doom format just enough. It’s unsophisticated and ugly, and all the better for it.