Thursday, February 12, 2015

Primitive Man - Home is Where the Hatred Is

Few - if any - records have been as aptly titled as Primitive Man's Scorn.  That album, released in 2013, was forty minutes of dense, repulsive sludge metal unlike anything I had ever heard.  A lot of sludge bands steep themselves in gloom or a state of forlorn anguish, but Primitive Man bathes in spiteful ugliness, unapologetically spitting in the face of humanity.  Outside of (maaaaybe) the UK's Dragged Into Sunlight, nobody does misanthropy like Primitive Man.  Scorn is an agonizingly bleak album that I honestly have trouble listening to often because I occasionally enjoy being happy, but I can't deny how great it is, and how good Primitive Man is.  Whether you can listen to them once a day or once a month, the band is so punishingly on point with their sound and vision that you start thinking "Yeah, fuck everything! ...except these guys; these guys are pretty great."  Home is Where the Hatred Is, the band's EP follow up to Scorn, goes to show you that even if you can't judge a book by its cover, the title can still be a pretty good indication of what you're reading.

If anything, Home is Where the Hatred Is is somehow more despondent and nihilistic than its predecessor.  These are four songs that make you feel the need to shower after listening, and then maybe consider just drowning yourself in the bathtub.  Vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy continues to have one of angriest howls in metal to go along with his solid guitar playing, but musically Primitive Man shines with the rhythm section.  Bassist Jonathan Campos and drummer Isidro Soto keep Home is Where the Hatred Is from dragging, switching tempos and adding layers upon layers of fuzzed-out, distorted bass riffs seemingly at random.  A lot of sludge bands find a groove and run with it; Primitive Man seems to lay down a groove just to pull it out from underneath the listener.

Home is Where the Hatred Is has four songs over its thirty-odd minute run time.  It's fairly long for an EP, but it's definitely better than adding a few filler tracks.  "Loathe" kicks things off with Soto's pounding drums breaking through a wall of feedback, and continues for ten more minutes of McCarthy's howls and furious riffage as the feedback continues to wail like an air raid siren.  "Downfall" comes in hard and heavy, closer at the onset to hardcore than doom before downshifting into sludge like a car caught in the mud; the sheer aural density of the music on "Downfall" is absolutely suffocating, and McCarthy's voice gasps through it with the intensity of a man bellowing his last words from the hangman's noose.  "Bagman" is probably the most straightforward track on the album, in that it finds Primitive Man wielding their instruments like wrecking balls, dead set on leveling every fucking thing they can find in their paths.  After all that, it might seem like the band has made its point, and that you "get it," but it's as "Bagman" fades out that Home is Where the Hatred Is really goes for uncomfortable.

Album closer "A Marriage With Nothingness" is the epitome of unsettling; after over twenty-five minutes of violent, hateful music, the last four minutes of the album feature a woman moaning sexually under a massive layer of feedback.  It's hard to call it a song per se, and even harder to listen to it without commenting on what you're hearing or detaching the sexuality of the moans from the violence of the music.  To be honest it begins to feel discomforting for discomfort's sake (which I honestly don't know that I'd put past the band).  I'm hoping that "A Marriage With Nothingness" will open up a little bit for me once I get some time with lyrics to the preceding three tracks, but right now it's a pretty skippable track for me.

Home is Where the Hatred Is will definitely not be for everyone.  It's uncompromising in its ugliness, relentlessly spewing spite and bitterness from every second of every song.  "A Marriage With Nothingness" is one of the most uncomfortable songs I've ever encountered, to the point where I genuinely don't know if I ever want to listen to it again.  And while listening to Home is Where the Hatred Is is anything but a happy experience, I'm overjoyed that this album exists.  This is music that has little to no commercial appeal, music that most people would probably turn off halfway through the first track.  In short, it's music made by a band that believes in it.  Primitive Man exposes and conveys the ugliness and scum of humanity better than any band out there, and are easily one of the top extreme metal bands around.  I love that Home is Where the Hatred Is exists, and I think it's one of the most distinct, incredible albums I've heard in a long, long time... even if I might not listen to it again for a long, long time.

- Durf

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