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Primitive Man - Immersion (Relapse Records) Album Review

    Ian Jane

  • Primitive Man - Immersion (Relapse Records) Album Review

    Released by: Relapse Records
    Released on: August 14th, 2020
    Purchase From Amazon

    The latest full-length album from Denver, Colorado's Primitive Man, who have been around since 2012 and bill themselves as “Denver's first and only Death Sludge band,” is 2020's Immersion, a six track slab of music that can accurately be described as heavy to the point of distress. Comprised of Ethan Lee McCarthy on vocals and guitar, Joe Linden on drums and Jonathan Campos on bass, the latest effort from this trio mixes traditional stoner and doom metal motifs with industrial and experimental elements, piercing vocals and straight up noise, all of which combines to create something that might sound like what you'd get if you put Sleep, Einstí¼rzende Neubauten and Merzbow into a blender. It's as mesmerizing as it is punishing.

    The album opens up with The Lifer, a track that runs almost eight-minutes that opens with a few seconds of piercing feedback to get your attention before McCarthy's guttural, Hell-spawned vocals kick in, taking you immediately to the darkest of dark places both sonically and in terms of mood and atmosphere. A few simple but effective riffs are played in repetition here, Campos and Linden really holding down the low end of the track (though really, there is no high end here, outside of a few spots of feedback). It's loud, distorted and heavy as fuck, using volume as a weapon, a monolithic punishment of sorts, but the kind that makes you ask for another.

    Entity, a five-minute track, still sees the band playing in slow dirge of sorts, a singular guitar note holding for roughly the first minute of the track, with only occasional drum beats punching through the wall of sound. Two-minutes in and the feedback spikes in the mix, after which McCarthy's demonic vocals are front and center, growling their way through the instrumental noise that somehow manages to sustain itself, wavering ever so slightly to give this piece some aural texture.

    The eight-minute long Menacing hits you front and center with a blast beat, working in some fairly traditional sounding black metal style into the opening of the track before then, somewhat surprisingly, taking this into a slower, doomier, sludgier direction than the two tracks that came before it. This track switches it up, bringing that blast beat back a few times when you don't really expect it in a way that legitimately raises anxiety and tension in the listener with its unpredictability, breaking down mid-way into a cacophony of noise, finding its footing again and bombarding you with menace.

    Oddly enough, ∞ is the shortest track on the album at just over two-minutes and it's basically an avalanche of distortion and feedback, just a wall of noise with industrial style grinding adding an additional layer of causticness to the sound.

    The seven-minute Foul is a little easier on the ears, getting back to the band's soul-crushing doom style of playing, a nice barrage of super-heavy riffage creating the skeleton off of which McCarthy's increasingly sinister vocals are hung, growling and slithering their way across the track. There's a truly wild extended instrumental stretch here about three quarters of the way through that breaks things up but it regains its pace and goes back to that punishing, bulldozer-style that the band has been making a name for themselves with these last few years.

    The album closes out with the six-minute Consumption, again, opening with some piercing feedback but then quickly shifting gears and moving at a faster pace than anything else on the album - at least in spots, this track goes back and before between doom/dirge and grind/black metal styles pretty regularly, with Lindon's gargantuan drumming style really shining here.

    Feel good album of the year this is not, Primitive Man's third album is from another planet, but Immersion is a true monster of an album. This is a band that clearly cares not about pleasing the masses, intent on making their own style of music with no regard whatsoever for commercial norms, and we're all better off for it.

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