Posted by: Necci – Jul 02, 2012
The idea of the supergroup seems like it should make for pretty spectacular results – a bunch of musicians who have created notable enough music that their side-project would immediately earn the designation of “super” all crammed together in a studio, churning out records that allow each member's individual strengths to shine through. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. For every Captain Beyond or Bad Seeds there have have been dozens of others that treat the whole thing like an auditory circle jerk, with each respective member in their corner of the room frantically pounding out bullshit that pleases nobody but themselves. So a potential listener could be forgiven for not exactly foaming at the mouth when presented with Primate, an Atlanta-based band that includes members of Brutal Truth and Mastodon, whose stated purpose was to get back to their hardcore roots (and if there's one thing that's less thrilling than another goddamn supergroup, it's a bunch of old dudes trying to take stabs at the stuff they loved when they were fifteen).
But put all that aside. Turns out, what Primate does on their debut album is actually worth a listen. Blasting through ten songs in twenty minutes, their songs are imbued with a vicious energy that might not necessarily be expected from musicians better known for weirdo stoner grindcore and arena-tested prog-metal. This isn't to say there aren't hints of the members' other projects - the frantic introduction to the album's title track seems to be about quantum physics (which wouldn't have been out of place on any Brutal Truth album) and song titles like “Wasted Youth” (unfortunately, not a Meat Loaf cover) possess large helpings of the sort of guitar melodies that have characterized Mastodon's body of work - but Primate is a different (pardon the terrible music reviewer pun) beast altogether.
The songs tend towards a fast hardcore gallop; not far removed from Disfear, World Burns To Death, or the last Citizens Arrest EP, occasionally taking dips into slower doom metal territory or escalating into a quick blastbeat, but it's mostly solid, rock-oriented hardcore. There are a few references to old age, as evidenced by titles like “Get The Fuck Off My Lawn” (a possible reference to the well-worn punk rock trope of a song for the kids, that formless mass that when united won't be divided, the one that will have their say, et cetera) or the SOD tribute “March Of The Curmudgeon." The politics aren't terribly far removed from those peddled by Kevin Sharp in his various projects over the past few decades, nor do they vary too widely from the snarling anti-authoritarian sentiments preferred by pretty much every hardcore band ever.
But for something that's not exactly pushing any envelopes, it's executed well. Enough of the individual musicians' specific inclinations are present that it has more personality than a lot of comparable albums, but it doesn't fall into the sort of inchoate amalgam that so often results from a few well-seasoned vets running ideas up the proverbial flagpole to see who's going to salute. Many such projects seem good because they end up being better than expected, which isn't really much of a compliment. But Primate have come up with something solid and engaging, a brief dip into catchy, heavy music that brims over with an energy that the decades and the subcultural divides can't temper.
By Graham Scala