Primitive Man are one of the most respected names in underground metal right now, a staple of the Denver scene and a band that has the reputation for putting out some of the most frighteningly heavy music in this day and age. After years of split releases and EP’s, the band is finally doubling down and releasing their second full-length, Caustic, which stands to be the band’s most challenging release yet.
Primitive Man’s music is a challenge, both in its confrontational approach, and with regard to the listeners physical ability to withstand the wall of noise engulfing them. Caustic is an aptly named album, built on a swirling cacophony of guitars, harsh noise interludes, and the inimitable, searing vocals of Ethan Lee McCarthy, whose lyrics shine light on the darkest parts of mankind. The black metal elements the band has been alluding to in previous recordings come through stronger than before, and add a new dynamic to the aggressiveness the band has already cultivated. Make no mistake though, the root of the band’s sound is still the same brand of massive doom metal they have been known for. Songs like “Commerce” are absolutely glacial in pace, repetitive, and crushing in weight, and even “Victim,” which starts with a sludgy punk intro, eventually collapses back into this oppressively slow, deep, and hard routine. Everything about Caustic is designed for maximum discomfort.
Maybe that’s part of what draws people to Primitive Man in general. Beyond simply enjoying the band’s music, part of the reason I chose to try to review Caustic was the difficulty of this album. We all have to test our limits sometimes, and reviewing an hour and seventeen minute album of repetitive, harsh doom is something out of my usual forte, as someone who has a very short attention span. If this album has taught me anything, though, it’s that you get out of Primitive Man’s music what you put into it. Time spent with Caustic, with all its pounding riffs and shrieking noise, is like a marathon gym session: it demands a lot out of the listener in terms of attention and pain tolerance, but those who commit are rewarded with an album that burns away all impurities, like a deep tissue massage for the brain.