Fresh off their senselessly heavy split with Unearthly Trance, Denver-based doom-drone-sludge merchants Primitive Man have partnered up with one-man nightmare-creator M.S.W. and his own sludge/doom project Hell. Neither band are strangers to the split format, with Primitive Man tallying eight and Hell one less with seven, and the symbiotic malice shared by these two sonic heavyweights is entirely and violently apparent on the split’s three tracks of rumbling, light-shunning doom.
“straddling that funereal line…inhaling tar fume, toiling in the muck”
Primitive Man open the proceedings in their now trademark Neanderthal fashion with “Oily Tears,” announcing their presence with whining feedback before dropping the hammer with mega-ton riffs, pummeling drums, and Ethan Lee McCarthy’s gargantuan ogre roars. The band’s marriage of drone and doom continues to result in a style that’s ritualistic, hypnotic, and unforgiving. Their patience and near glacial pace maximizes the moment when Primitive Man decide to turn up the tempo and go helter skelter before steadying out into a bristling, awesome groove. The second track, “Pitiful & Loathsome,” stays the course with a sluggish and lumbering gait; bleak and cavernous and monstrously simplistic, even when things ratchet up two-and-a-half minutes in the overall tone remains as bleak and as misanthropic as ever, doom oozing in its most ebon and granite form as McCarthy exits Primitive Man’s offering with a choked and grizzled bark.
Singular sludge-doom entity Hell’s input, the nearly 10-minute-long closer “Nuumen,” serves as the more accessible segment of the split, offering a bit more groove and a lot less causticity while venturing down a smokier, perhaps more drug-fueled foxhole. M.S.W.’s style is unequivocally sludge-doom, albeit a strain laced with occult sensibilities ala Electric Wizard and shades of the more grime-filled NOLA-verse, with intense, searing vocals of the blackened variety that scrape skin and throat akin to Charlie Fell or maybe Mike Williams on a Norwegian bender. Hell throw in two solid minutes of disquieting dronish doom (triple dee) for good measure, consisting of eerily plucked strings, grumbling bass, and tinny, warbling background noises that soon revert to the opening riff played at a wearier, far heavier pace.
The Primitive Man/Hell split is a rudimentary and achingly heavy convergence of two bands that have carved out themselves niches in the most inhospitable of real estate. This style of doom, in some ways straddling that funereal line, seems to thrive on inhaling tar fume, toiling in the muck, and summoning ugliness and evil in equal measure. But in spite of its oppressiveness, the music is palatable, aural brutalism that’s as cathartic as it is cacophonous. Heavy is as heavy does, and heavy is here in spades.