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Primitive Man
Scorn Neil Kulkarni , February 5th, 2014 07:05

Always, with rock, in the bleak midwinter, I return to metal. Music shorn of hope. The only type of rock I really care about anymore. Guitars with a purpose, played with utter disgust, determined to sicken, destroy and be destroyed. It's what you need, to keep yourself intact, before Spring can make your bones less brittle, make the world somewhere you want to be.

I missed Primitive Man's Scorn last year when it came out because it was at a time when I didn't want music, couldn't focus on anything bar what was happening round me. Right now, I want nothing else other than its molten depths. What Scorn offers is a mirror so clear, a very metal turning of reality inside out to reveal the grim innards, the true depths we can reach when apprehending our shallowness. Pulls at your cells like a witnessed tragedy. It was made by three Denverites who have made other things too. When you click on 'lyrics' on their Bandcamp page it says, charmingly, "no-one is listening. no one fucking cares".

What Scorn does is brave and beautiful and baleful in the extreme. The title track kicks off like a still-twitching corpse, and what you can immediately sense is how all the potential pitfalls and prattishness of doom-sludge have been neatly and totally circumvented by PM's method and murderous intent. The guitars here, though supremely distorted and fucked up, are alive with detail, snapping their scaly fingers right to the edge of the sound, the riffs constructed with a truly visual sense of theatre, a documentarian's eye for the rotations and monomanias of an end-of-tether mind. The way the sound hangs over the ultra slo-mo mid-section in napalm waves of feedback is just gorgeous. Gratifyingly though, none of this sonic sculpture ever sounds like anything so planned or painstaking, never in fact does it sound like it was designed to be beautiful, only an instinctive emanation from the soul of three very fucked up very pissed off people. The sudden tempo shift to raging thrash sees no let up in the low-end (another problem with so much of this music - just not bassy enough), then a coda of exquisite Obituary/BitchMagnet/Sabbath-style tritonic blues drives the ingots home into your eyeballs, slower, slower still, to a crawl, to a coma, until you genuinely, truly see Hell. A fiery lake of molten despair, a subterranean sun, roundabout 10bpm, you see it, a black hole beneath you within which all light is extinguished. You see it. And with your back to it, you close your eyes, tilt backwards, surrender yourselves to the abyssal depths. One of the most useful pieces of music I've heard in months.

'Rags' which follows, could almost be seen as some kind of blessed relief - it reveals PM's lineage as being some distance from the usual death/grind/sludge/doom suspects, far closer in anti-melody and feel to your Codeines and your Bitch Magnets, even if the ravaged vocals always pull it back to that Celtic Frost 'Monotheist' feel you find so addictive. The noise interludes that periodically punctuate Scorn's lava-flow into your ear canal are beautiful, very Cabaret Voltaire/Throbbing Gristle - the first one you hear, 'I Can't Forget' sounds like that bullshit-but-effective 'Siberian Sounds Of Hell' recording that was knocking round the netherworld of the web a few years ago, albeit transformed into a strange kind of muzak for the underground lab in 'Day Of The Dead'. 'Antietam', after the title track, is the other clear highlight here, something intractably unshakeable about the vocal, as if the guy can't quite scrape enough layers of skin off himself, the song lashing down a fast, insanely jagged, totally unique rhythm to rock-thus-far, then slowing it down, revealing with every torpid repetition the increasingly ugly inner workings, the pulsing bloated veins and wreckage-laden dying fibres of a body and mind falling apart.

'Antietam' ends on a monstrous melange of space-rock racket and World Domination Enterprise-worthy heaviosity, as ever impeded to a brutally Sisyphian death march, last rites, last gasp music. 'Black Smoke' is like the first trippy seconds of Monster Magnet's 'Spine Of God' taken to a horrifically new vaporised extreme, a bong passed around the charnel-house. 'Stretched Thin' is as close to conventional metal as Primitive Man get, even then the time-sig fuckery and deeply unsettling sense of naturalism and dissatisfaction PM conjure when it bleeds into the stunning 'Astral Sleep' are far too human, far too effecting and empathetic to safely file away or forget about. That's the thing throughout Scorn, there's something extra going on here, beyond what occurred in its recording, a vibe of planet-sized hostility and room-sized self-loathing that's impossible to put your finger on, but that screams unmistakably from every darkly deliquescent moment. By the time you're through to 'Lifetime' you've stopped thinking about Scorn as music altogether. It's not composed of chords or rhythms or predictable shapes, rather it comes across as a fully formed explosion of bile and blood, a totally natural emanation from three souls in exquisitely tormented congress. Frightened as it is frightening, grief-stricken for itself.

The sublimely dubbed-out lo-fi Penderecki of 'Innard$' sees us into the closing attack of 'I Am Above You', with Primitive Man finally turning having noticed you watching them, appalled at your absorption, hands closing round your neck and ankles, pulling you down for the final grim dance of death, a beautiful dance you succumb to willingly. And then you go on with your day utterly changed. Knowing that you've heard something you'd be wise not to return to too soon, but that you'll have to return to eventually. I've found it becomes a weekly, then a daily thing, needing a hit of this. I cannot for the life of me imagine anything better was done with guitars in 2013. I recommend Scorn becomes your fix of racket immediately.

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