Existing in Inertia
I had the pleasure of seeing Primitive Man with Full of Hell last year (remember shows?) and I remember standing there wide-eyed, clutching the few LPs I had just purchased outside in the lobby. A majority of the show was played under red lights. The trio of noisy death sludge monoliths played a set that transcended my idea of what a metal show could be. I was used to chaos and moshing and beers being thrown. I was used to more of a party atmosphere. It wasn't a party. It was an art showcase dripping in existential dread.
Their newest album, Immersion, functions in the same way. Especially given the surreal fever dreams of videos they've recently released in support of the record, it's obvious that Primitive Man are, again, allowing us to peer into a mind that maybe ought to stay closed to the public. What transpires throughout the half-hour duration of the record feels like a therapy session aided by the barrage of feedback and noise. In an almost trance-like state, the interlude track right in the middle of the album, "∞", washes over the listener in what feels like a palate cleanser, a reminder that you are present in this too, a tap on the shoulder to toss your attention in deeper.
Immersion feels so much more immediate and harrowing than their previous, critically acclaimed release, Caustic. While there isn't much "immediacy" for a body of music that operates in the single digits in terms of BPM, the feeling this record gives and sustains is thrust upon the listener from the get-go. Starting in a very similar way to Caustic, our ears are grated by feedback and noise just before Ethan McCarthy (the heaviest vocals in extreme music), comes in pounding like a juggernaut on "The Lifer."
This record feels so much more "live" than previous offerings. Whether it be something like diminished mid-tones or the mix of Ethan's vocals. I can't quite put my finger on it, and if you're an engineer and can lend a hand, please leave that feedback in the comments. It's a record that not only feels more present, but sounds more present.
I think what's important about Primitive Man, at least to me, is that whenever I listen to their material, I feel like I'm witnessing something very private, but at the same time, something very profound and violent.
Back and front, Immersion hurls you through a vortex of negative self-reflection and existential mourning. It's unrelenting, unyielding in its freight-train-like momentum. When the album closes in its war drum cascade, an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion is left if not a bit of longing. Like Primitive Man's previous releases, one can't help but sprint alongside in cathartic thought. And when the record ends and skips back, the sudden jolt back to reality slams the listener into a wall.
Immersion is out now on Relapse Records.