Loud, heavy, dense, raging, lacking any sort of subtlety or nuance – rarely has a band been so aptly named as Primitive Man. Self-releasing their debut to critical acclaim both here and across the metalogosphere, they followed it up with a series of splits before being snapped up by Relapse for their latest outburst of hatred. Their approach has remained pretty consistent across these releases: crank everything up until it feeds back, then hammer out the most repulsive blackened sludge they can conjure. While I’ve enjoyed their prior output up to a point (though I’m not sure “enjoy” is the correct word here), they’re pretty one-dimensional. I was interested to find out, then, if their debut for Relapse would see the band playing things safe with more of the same, or whether they would attempt to move beyond the crude emotion expressed on their first few efforts.
The four tracks making up Home Is Where the Hatred Is suggest Primitive Man are staying primitive for the moment. Opener “Loathe,” which was released as a single in August of last year, is a punishing eleven-minutes of sludgy dissonance. After a minute of guitar feedback and discordant buildup, the track breaks out into a driving rhythm propelled by cascading tom runs, almost sounding like they might be going into, dare I say it, a groove. But this is Primitive Man not Iron Monkey, and before you can start having a good time the track is dragged back to crawling speed until three minutes in, when it descends into turbulent doom/death. Following an interlude of yet more feedback, we’re treated to an ominous black metalish slow build until the song’s painfully sluggish death throws. “Downfall” has a crusty opening, but slows to a snail’s pace a minute in and remains lethargic for the next six, while the monotonous doom start to “Bag Man” gives way to Portal-influenced death metal. Closer “A Marriage With Nothingness” is four minutes of pure noise – droning, dissonance, distortion and screams that slowly build to an agonizing climax.
You might have gathered that I’m unconvinced by Primitive Man’s slower, more basic riffs, which frequently bore rather than brutalize. Many of the slower sections are extremely repetitive (“Downfall” is particularly bad), with no variation in riff, rhythm, or vocal pattern. The combination of simple, measured heaviness and jarring harmonies has an initial primal impact, but this quickly wears off through repetition. Debut Scorn contained shorter songs and a greater diversity of tempos with more grind influences, so it didn’t suffer in the same way.
The production doesn’t help matters. Though obviously not the most dynamic band in the first place, any possibility of light and shade is crushed by heavy compression. As everything is maximally loud all the time, big entrances and transitions that should have been given greater emphasis are lost in the noise. Along with causing listening fatigue, this increases the monotony of the more tedious musical segments. Perhaps worse, clipping is clearly audible at various points throughout. This is being released on vinyl initially, so the mastering may well be better there, but if you’re buying digitally you’ve been warned.
There’s enough of interest on here to suggest that Primitive Man could produce a great sophomore full-length – their dalliances with death and black metal work well and when they mix things up a bit it adds weight to the hate. Their 2013 demo P//M also suggests we may be seeing a lot more ambient noise on future releases. For the moment though, I’d only recommend this if you have the patience to sit through the tedium to get to the good stuff. Or if you like Indian.