With riffs that shake the snow from the Rocky Mountains is Primitive Man, a three piece hailing from Denver, Colorado. Following the release of 2017’s “Caustic” is their third full-length, “Immersion”, which is undoubtedly their heaviest. “Immersion” seems to play on personal paranoia, as well as showcase the wave of fear and loathing that has thickly fallen over the land. The entire album plays out like the climax of a horror film. There’s no reprieve, just the feeling of tension spreading throughout your stiffened body, paralysing your hunched shoulders and quickening your ragged breaths. Primitive Man consists of Ethan Lee McCarthy with vocals and guitars, Jonathan Campos on bass, and Joe Linden on drums.
The first track on “Immersion” is “The Lifer.” The first few seconds of the album are a face-full of throttling squeals of layered feedback drowned out by deep, guttural gargles that seem to be painfully escaping from the throat. The drums clatter like the tail of a rattlesnake hidden in the grass, giving off a warning to walk with caution, not ignorance. There’s a rumbling loudness that skitters out like the overwhelming buzz of gathering flies on a recently deceased mammal. According to front man and guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy this track is primarily about “being cursed with and unable to shed the desire to create. The lack of financial security that comes with that. It is also about the ever present on-the-road psychosis touring musicians get as well as the enemies you meet along the way.” The abstract feelings of bleakness and complete and total hopelessness are not to be lost on the listener.
“Entity,” the second track, is like listening to the fuzz of a television picking up on no signal. Your ears are pressed flush with the screen and the static crackles against your cheek. There’s a level of fear rising within you. You can sense that there’s something sinister in the noise. The kick drum echoes among those flickering dots and a high-pitched squeal announces the arrival of throaty wails and an ebb and flow of unnerving sounds.
The nearly 9 minute “Menacing” begins with a violently rapid succession of drums while the other instruments sound as if they are spiralling downward. McCarthy comes in like a snarling dog, wide-eyed and pacing. The drone of feedback falls out into a thickly distorted thumbing of the strings, and the ending devolves into a few minutes of noise. There is an intensity to this track that is unmatched. Next is the fourth track, “∞,” a two minute noise piece that sounds like metal scraping against metal, the pops of clattering signals, and an indistinct whirring fuzz.
The track that emerges from the static is “Foul.” Foul is extreme, to say the least. The instruments seem to teeter back and forth like a man on the edge, staggering with passivity. The retching growls grow with frustration and turmoil. McCarthy seems to scream about the path of destruction that is the unprotected soul; the lack of hope that can so easily consume. The instrumentation brings forth imagery of descent into only the darkest of voids.
The closer for the album is “Consumption.” This track barges in a bit quicker than the others. The quickened pace comes across as much angrier than the previous five tracks. It’s a rage-fuelled stomp that sits beneath the low growls and throaty screams. This track grinds you down like an intrusive thought and stays lodged at the forefront of your mind, making you fear for your life. The entire track feels like a build up of trembling anxiety so intense that when the track ended and became silent I was genuinely anticipating another round of high-stress sounds.
“Immersion” is an experience like no other. The intensity captured through the heavy instrumentation and throat-tearing screams makes one feel as though they need to check over their shoulder every few seconds.