Oh the pleasure of punishment without guilt, of terror without a motive, of sadistic pain with too much uncontrolled joy and salty drops of unrequited love. Primitive Man call the bluff we all know as life by showing the vulgar side of our existences. Our bodies reek when in fear because the matter doesn’t lie; we do; it doesn’t. If less than 40 minutes of raw, filthy music played without compromises may sound like a sonic déjà-vu, don’t worry: you may be right. Primitive Man’s music is, in fact, an end to itself: an epic journey through punishing dissonances mostly played at an excruciatingly slow tempo. Eyehategod? Maybe. But more than 20 years after an album like In the Name of Suffering graced our ears, the demise of black metal, the growth of drone-based trends and the evolution of what some term ‘extreme music’ all give us an updated version of that masterpiece. It hurt then as it does now and the bleak landscape remains the same. Hate doesn’t evolve; it just gets bigger.
Scorn is an honest and reliable picture of what sludge is today: a wall of feedback overlaying that abominable son of punk, crust, played at a lower speed with the likes of The Body and Brutal Truth in mind. It all makes sense in the end. And it surely does at the beginning as well, when the 11.45 (eleven and forty-five) minutes of the title-track deliver an array of promiscuous sounds and influences, drones and feedback, rage and ultimately fear.
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire’s front-man, Ethan McCarthy, delivers yet another great performance in the vocal booth, while his associates (pick the other two out of this list of obscurely named musicians that somehow includes McCarthy as well: Elm, JC, and Bak) drench their doom with grind and even more grind. The final result, on tracks as different as “Stretched Thin”, with its whipping bass and nihilistic penchant for noise, and “Astral Sleep”, is a monument to the primordiality of extreme music and the roots laid by Bathory and Celtic Frost. “I Can’t Forget” and “Black Smoke”, for instance, are the two disturbingly ‘ambient’ tunes those bands could not have written, but which would not have seen the light had Venom not been At War with Satan back in the early 1980s.
Primitive Man is simply a more claustrophobically dissonant, bastard son of its era. Reversed guitars, repetitions and the precarious balance between down-tempo and its opposite are the natural consequences of a prolonged exposition to the variety of genres and sub-genres (some more noble than others) whoever loves this music knows very well, these days.
Believe it or not, Scorn is a catchy piece of work. You may not be hooked by the lack of symmetry, discipline and form but, rather ironically, it is this very unbiased stream of metal consciousness that makes this debut so special. Call it what you like, but although it is true that sometimes there is smoke without a fire, in this instance the smell of flesh proves we have been lucky. It burns and we are not ashamed to love it.