Primitive Man – Caustic Review

Band: Primitive Man
Album: Caustic
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Blackened Doom
Country: USA
Release Date: 6 October, 2017

You would think that with pot being legal in Colorado, Denver bands like Primitive Man would be content to make groovy stoner rock albums, or at least be laid back and easy-going. Not so, in their case. This is some brutal, unrelenting stuff here, and only those with cast-iron stomachs need apply.

Nihilistic is a good word to describe the proceedings. You get heavy, devastating riffs, pounding drums, thunderous bass, and guttural vocals that work together with bleak, hopeless lyrics to shove you face-first into the ground. And when you’re down, and you’re feeling pretty abused, they go ahead and stomp on the back of your head for good measure.

The songs here range from slow to slow to, basically, slow. No track ever really picks up the pace. This is a steady march through sludge and crust and shaking earth. This is the kind of record you have to catch the vibe to enjoy. You either get into this or you don’t. In a way, it’s kind of trance music for the decayed, and I can easily see concertgoers with bowed heads, bobbing to the riffs, hair hanging in their races, bodies swaying to the crushing groove. Even when they actually do speed things up with a song like “Sterility,” it still feels slow.

It’s hard to pick any standout tracks on here because they all sort of blend together. The only respite you get is interstitial noise bits like “Caustic” and “Ash,” short little bursts of white noise and feedback and creaking metallic clamor. In some of the longer songs, you get these kinds of shadings within the songs themselves, giving the listener a chance to catch their breath. Here are a few songs that caught my ears:

“My Will” is the album opener and sets the mood for what is to follow. Hateful, belligerent, slow, stomping. This is brutal stuff, the lyrics not holding back, and neither does the music. If you don’t like this, you won’t like the rest. This is your warning track.

What can I say about “Commerce?” Twelve-plus minutes of bludgeoning hopelessness and bitter anger and bleeding machine oil. Slow, dirgy, heavy, unrelenting. It’s the plight of modern American workers, slaves to a system that turns not only their work, but their very bodies into commerce. There is nothing forgiving about this track. It’s an endurance test.

At six minutes, “Sugar Hole” is probably my favorite off the album. I don’t know why I lean towards it more than the others, I just do. Maybe it’s the title. For some reason, the name is both appealing and repugnant. In any case, this is another slow number, with vocals that teeter on the edge of insanity. There’s a tiny bit of melodic layering to this one (tiny, tiny bit) that gives it some flavor. And that little stutter-step about 2:45 in that increases the pace ever so slightly is a nice moment.

All in all, this is a hard record to judge. You either get into it or you don’t. It’s long and that in and of itself makes this a difficult listen. If it were 45 minutes, it would be more digestible, but it’s pretty obvious the guys in Primitive Man aren’t interested in making things any easier. They want you to wallow and suffer, and for certain fans, this will be manna from heaven.

“Caustic” is a perfect title for this album. It is brutal, unrelenting, dark, hateful, full of scum and vitriol, crusty and exacting. If a bleeding scab had a soundtrack, this would be it. Enter if you dare.

Rating: 7/10

1. My Will
2. Victim
3. Caustic
4. Commerce
5. Tepid
6. Ash
7. Sterility
8. Sugar Hole
9. The Weight
10. Disfigured
11. Inevitable
12. Absolutes

Total Playing Time: 77:37

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