If you’re a fan of heavy music, there is seldom a shortage of exciting music that fits the bill. Then, of course, there are bands that make the vast majority of so-called heavy bands sound like absolute lightweights. PRIMTIVE MAN definitely fit into that category, and for those who have enjoyed (if indeed ‘enjoyed’ is the right word) the band’s efforts to date, it will come as no surprise whatsoever that “Immersion” is so absurdly crushing that it may make you laugh out loud. But not for long. The Colorado crew’s singular vision continues to reimagine doom as a suffocating act of internalized violence, rather than some groovy, psychedelic thing with handclaps and bellbottoms.
“The Lifer” says it all: the kind of seven-minute bleed-out that offers no hope but delivers such a visceral punch that, in its own bleak way, it’s curiously nourishing. Of course, frontman ELM (Ethan Lee McCarthy)’s voice remains a blank-eyed bark from the depths of devilry and despair, but he has great authority, too. Lots of vocalists in extreme metal can gargle and growl, but to hear it done with such conviction and power is pretty rare. “Entity” is similarly bereft of light, but PRIMITIVE MAN do have a little gutter-level swing propelling their slow-motion assault along; a sense of momentum and import, as if this is merely some unholy sonic purification ritual before mankind truly gets its just desserts. When “Menacing” introduces this record’s first real burst of speed, it’s a startling change of pace, but the tempo drops immediately to a glacial slither, as clouds of claustrophobic reverb swirl. Further on, a mid-song collapse into harrowing feedback again leads back to another bruising funeral march, as if the cycle of life and death is slowly eating itself in a warped spiral of inevitability. Fun times, as they say.
The fact is, PRIMITIVE MAN are commanding and brutal in a way that very few other bands are. Even their interludes — here, the tooth-shattering noise collage of “∞” — exude a sense of disquiet that feels real, rather than the usual misery-for-hire clichés that downbeat extreme metal often employs as a matter of course. The crucifyingly grim and dissonant “Foul” lives up to its name, too, with a scorched-earth GODFLESH vibe and the grinding bass tones to match. The final nail in the coffin, closer “Consumption”, begins as another towering riff-drop, before incrementally morphing into a spiraling tunnel of drone ‘n’ drang that ends with a spurt of razor-slash feedback. As endings go, it’s as dogmatic and brutish as they come.
A grand act of catharsis or a terrifying glimpse into untold horror? “Immersion” is probably both. It’s also heavy enough to make you shit yourself. Twice.