Metal & Mike: Meditating On Nihilism & Doom With PRIMITIVE MAN
Primitive Man are one of the filthiest gems you’ll find in modern heavy music. The Denver, Colorado doom band has been making a name for themselves, especially thanks to their 2017 LP Caustic. The record is an overwhelming experience of harsh nihilism; trudging and slamming forth with tremendous amounts of distortion, Caustic plays out as a terrifying nightmare.
Now just one year later and Primitive Man have more music to share; this time around they are teaming up with fellow New York City doom act Unearhtly Trance (who released their previous album, Stalking The Ghost, back in 2017). Released as of today via Relapse Records, both bands have put together a split containing seven songs of all-out doom tension.
For Primitive Man vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy, the origin behind the split comes from the two bands playing together and fandom. “We played a show with Unearthly Trance in their hometown a few years ago,” he shares. “I don’t exactly remember where the idea of a split came together. I’m pretty sure I sheepishly asked them if they would be down. I’ve been a fan of their music since ‘ [The] Trident’ came out.”
McCarthy is a major component behind Primitive Man’s chaos and destruction; the band’s music is a pure expression of his emotion. “As cliché as it is,” he shares, “The music sounds the way I am feeling. Heavy, uncomfortable, a little manic, ultra negative; I don’t know how to write any other way.” He continues, explaining how his music affects his emotional state and how it can be cathartic and tiring. “I used to say that I use music to purge myself of negativity. But the chances are that if you play doom, there is always something to be unhappy about. I feel emotionally drained after we are finished playing. So I’d say it is a little bit of both. It’s like an ouroboros of dealing with negative emotions.”
The world has always been a place of struggle. Nowadays there’s uproar in almost every facet of society, leaving little escape from the madness. Ironically, music dealing with such heavy and negative emotion can allow one to exorcise said feelings. Speaking to music as a coping mechanism, McCarthy says, “I find solace in the music that other musicians write, so I would hope that our listeners get the same sort of relief from whatever they may be dealing with [while listening to Primitive Man].” Even though McCarthy focuses on various nihilistic themes, he has his things in life that bring him hope. In regard to what makes him happy, he states, “Marijuana, friends and family.”
The Primitive Man and Unearthly Trance split features three tracks from the former; that said, those tracks bring just over 20 minutes of annihilating doom. McCarthy shares that his writing process comes together overtime, but relies upon his current feelings. “Music and lyrics are written [at] different times, but during the same ‘time period’ of my life. So I’ll take stacks of lyrics and apply them to whichever song ‘feels’ closest to what I wrote about. If something doesn’t seem to fit, I will then have to write lyrics that I think would fit better with the music.” Thanks to the band’s lyrics, vocals, and instrumentals, Primitive Man is a devastating force; each track provides remarkable depth, pummeling listeners with ferocious energy. Where many doom bands are able to present an ominous atmosphere, Primitive Man drag listeners into raw emotion.
McCarthy sees Primitive Man as much more than just a heavy band; this is a band that embodies much of what has been going on in our world. “Primitive Man represents a moment in time,” McCarthy shares. “I don’t know how important we really are. But I can tell you that when the revolution in America is finished, in 30 years when we look back on it, I hope that they play Primitive Man songs alongside all of the footage; like [how] they play Creedence Clearwater Revival songs in all of the documentaries about America in the 60’s during the Vietnam War.”