The suffocating, smoky doom metal that Primitive Man are so skilled at performing isn’t one that needs a counterpart. The Denver trio have already mastered their art to the point where, after two almighty recent full lengths, there is little need for most to search out new examples of the band’s self proclaimed “funeral punk” subgenre. This is perfect because the rest of the material on this split showcases another all American group, Northless. Why is this such an ideal fit? Well, Northless may live in the same country and fall under the same broad genre tag as Primitive Man, but these are the only real similarities. Should someone be coming into this release with little or no knowledge of this Milwaukee outfit, they’ll be left breathless and bashful at the fact that they’re only just getting round to hearing them.
To get the ball rolling on this half hour of despairing gentlemen blowing out speakers and voice boxes, Primitive Man unleash “Empty Husk”; a great title for a doom/sludge track by all means but it couldn’t be any less of an indicator to the content of the music itself. Those familiar with Primitive Man will recognize the old crutch used here by the band. Feedback. There is more piercing feedback during these fifteen minutes than a lifetime of local band front men incorrectly using their microphones. So much so that even when there may only be two or three chord progressions, the shrill layers of sound distortion layer over each other and envelop the rest of the music. This technique lifts prolonged passages of despair out of the black pit of sludge hell and into the seemingly empty yet equally terrifying heights of vacuous space. Seriously, the constant barrage of snail paced kick hits and growling low end strings could suck the air right out a human. There’s little left standing barely halfway through this opus and fore very minute that passes, years can feasibly be written off of the listeners life span. Chances are that the band know this themselves and are seemingly A-okay with it because, if there could be one criticism of this track, it’s that it sounds like it came from their Home Is Where The Hatred Is EP.
Enter Northless. Depending on which side is played first, it might seem like an uphill struggle to follow the wanton audio destruction of the most primitive of men. Even if that may be the case, this is a struggle these enemies of sound engineers are more than capable of conquering. Hell, these three tracks might very well be the best example of sleazy, hardcore influenced sludge metal that ever exists. Bold statement, yes, but one that is backed hard by a barrage of angular, shifting riffs and experimentation with dynamics that meets progressive song writing head on with two fists made entirely of broken glass and shattered hopes. The post metal qualities that rear their head in “The 10,000 Year Wound” give a brief, shimmering view of a band that can smash through destructive doom metal just as easily as they can toy with listeners hearts. This is crystal clear during a section of “Wasted Breath” that threatens to get dangerously close to uplifting and anthemic, only for the grim fuzz to kick back in and wipe out any notion that this experience is going to end in anything but bitter remorse; this track comes crashing back to the cold, hard reality with a breathtaking vengeance, shivers down the spine stuff.
Reviewing a split is sort of like asking a parent to rate their twin children out of ten. Not individually but together as one package. A rough estimate could be made but deep down they’ll know who gets the extra marks to round up that score. One of these children is Primitive Man who have been up to the same, glorious tricks before. The other is Northless, gleeful in their delivery of sludge, hardcore and post metal played with reckless abandon. These two combine to create a world beating blend of noise and chaos that could leave a glacier reeling. Reeling in the wake of a sudden realization of it’s impending, snail paced demise at the hands of the universe. Imperfect parts of an already imperfect puzzle.
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Primitive Man/Northless gets…