Album Review: Primitive Man/Sea Bastard Split LP


Reviews don’t typically have back-stories, but bear with me for a quick paragraph. I had heard that the new Primitive Man split was coming out on vinyl and it was being released by one of my favorite cassette labels, Dry Cough, and got excited for both parties. The promo dropped into my inbox and on my first day as a member of the Nine Circles team, I staked my claim for my first review I was going to WOW them with. Slam-dunk, next up — amateur internet metal critic domination. The next day I started getting everything ready — pencil, detective-style moleskin notepad and the promo download. Then, I realized there’s only three songs on the LP. Three fucking songs. Two from Primitive Man, one from Sea Bastard. I’m kinda fucked and you can see the need for this seeming pointless back-story. This is the origin of a doomed mission.

Cut to present time. Primitive Man are one of my favorite bands and on more than one occasion, I have called them ‘the most important metal band currently working’, which I say with no hyperbole at all. Their existence makes underground music better and more vibrant in general. They could just hang out on Relapse and put out albums with extraordinarily high visibility, especially for the over-the-top style of harsh music they churn out. Thankfully, they do not follow that path. They keep going back to DIY labels and sharing the wealth of exposure that being involved with Relapse brings, not because they’re altruistic, because it’s in their blood.

The first song on their side is ‘Cold Resolve’ and I really cannot remember a time where they’ve been this brutally and steadfastly slow. It’s close to 11 minutes, which is right around where their upper limit is for track length, with the exception of the noise tracks on the elusive P//M tape that came out a couple years back. ‘Cold Resolve’ makes early Grief sound downright rushed. Very slight tempo shifts occur throughout the track, but nothing to make your head bob, it just keeps rolling and rolling over everything, absolutely relentless. ‘Servant’ on the other hand is a fucking up-tempo number by comparison. It’s more in line with the P//M mission statement, slow-to-mid-paced, throw in some groove and wait for the perfect time to unleash some twisted form of grindcore. As their discography grows, this split won’t be among their most sought-after releases, but it’s great. Any time more gnarled ELM riffs hit the street, it’s a cause for celebration. Let’s celebrate.

Sea Bastard‘s ‘Hermit’ is also on this record.

Pause for comedic effect…

Clocking in at close to 20 minutes, it takes endurance and a healthy love of all-things nautical. If you’re already a fan of Sea Bastard, then you know what to expect — however, this outing has lesser production values than the split with Keeper or the ‘Scabrous’ LP. It kind of drags down the song a bit because the cleaner production values on the previous releases add some dynamics and character to their style of ultra-creeping doom. I’m all for lo-fi in certain situations, but this track is just very dull and muffled, it could use a counterpoint to the low-end. If you don’t know what you’re getting into with Sea Bastard, this is four drum-hit per minute doom — usually they have some good amalgamated hardcore in the writing, this track is solely a pure, malignant dirge.

– Buck D.

Primitive Man/Sea Bastard Split LP will be available through Dry Cough Records and Black Reaper Records at an undisclosed time in early 2016.

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