Recorded during the same session as 2017’s aptly titled Caustic, Steel Casket is an altogether different beast. Where the previous record staggered around, hurling increasingly plausible threats of violence into astonished faces, 2019’s offering is slower, more spacious and brooding. It’s sinister and looming. Akin to feeling a presence creeping up behind you. You don’t dare look. You know that it’s nothing. It has to be nothing. But this feeling is becoming unbearable. The malevolence is palpable. It’s practically breathing upon the small hairs on your neck. You can’t take it anymore and wrench your head around so fucking fast that you give yourself whiplash. And what’s there? Nothing, of course. Except, didn’t that shadow just flicker in the corner of your eye?
Or something like that. Suffice to say, Primitive Man’s latest is a creepy fucking affair. Split into two uneven halves (both of which also seem to contain noticeable mid-point shifts), Steel Casket (find pre-order options for North America here and the EU here) is festooned with an overarching sense of dread. A tangible menace that can’t be ignored. Surging over the top of gloomy drones are wildly shredded guitars that call to mind the clash of metal upon metal within industrial machinery. Sparks don’t so much fly as cascade. Within these piercing sheets of sound, new textures emerge, displacing once cacophonous wall with another. It soars, rips, and tears before collapsing in upon itself, leaving the burned-out embers of static electronics crackling away.
As you read our review, why not stream both tunes?:
There are sonic choices on this that baffle as much as they terrify: A lost bee seems to bumble around an ambient microphone. A baby sobs. There is the scrape of a shovel through soil. Whimpers drift. At times it seems like the sort of ground upon which Nurse With Wound might trample. Then the sounds expand, the up close and claustrophobic becomes vast. The distortion returns. Bit crushed howls opine like a nuclear wind eviscerating all in its path.
Part two – “A Life of Tur…” – begins with reverberating guitar strings playing out into a dismal void. Hums glitch and fade. This is a more controlled affair. An exploration of compatibility. Whilst Primitive Man don’t bare their teeth initially, the threat of rage seems barely hidden beyond the horizon. Discordant notes chime and clang against one another. Sounds shift between pickup, become more ominous. Like a tiger toying with a terrified cage-trespasser, the first few taps and swipes are just for sizing up. Malice is restrained with the knowledge that a murderous blow lays coiled beneath gently flexing sinews. It’s reminiscent of the rampaging sonics of Japanese maestro Keiji Haino. Burly notes swarm. The structure cannot hold, it doesn’t. That which is dormant starts to rouse. Chords of anxiety ring out and die a gradual death. This builds like an avalanche destroys. Slow, scattered shifts turn into catastrophic, all-consuming waves that engulf the ear space and flush out all hope. It’s the musical equivalent of a panic attack. It’s sweating palms and palpitations. Vanquished optimism and settling anxiety.
Incredibly, Primitive Man have created something that is even more caustic than their debut and something that taps into a primal fear that is as ancient as primordial ooze.
The men and minds behind Primitive Man and, now, Steel Casket:
Steel Casket Track Listing:
02. A Life of Tur…
Run Time: 46:38
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Record Label: Crown & Throne Ltd/Tartarus Records