Primitive Man, Northless pack hellacious anger, unforgiving heaviness into volcanic split

PM NOrthlessHeaviness is a given with this site, right? We all know why we’re here (or at least I do), and that’s to talk about music that’s generally way too heavy for the general public and even those people who think, like, Hot Topic metal is brutal. We have two bands today that are taking that thing a little overboard.

Primitive Man and Northless already are one of the more gargantuan bands in underground metal, but their union on their brand-new, four-track split release is ridiculous. For one, Primitive Man check in with just one 15-minute cut, and it feels like mountains are crashing down slowly, torturously, ready to bury you helplessly under the rumble. Northless provide three cuts, and while the songs are shorter than their split mate’s, they are urgent, violent, and smash you in a hurry. This is an awesome combination, and this release is one of the grimmest, most earthquaking that you’ve like heard over the first three calendar months.

Primitive Man gurgled out of Denver four years ago and delivered their scathing debut full-length “Scorn” a year later on Relapse. Since then the band–vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy, bassist Jonathan Campos, drummer Isidro Spy–has been quiet with full records but have given us plenty of split efforts with bands such as Hessian, Hexis, Fister, and now this piece with Northless. Their ugly brand of sludge and doom is oppressive, unforgiving, and terrifyingly, and they offer up more than a serving full with their lone, but monstrous, contribution to this release.

“Empty Husk” is a 15:01 mauler, with the noise bleeding in and flooding the area, and the track taking its time to devastate you. The vocals roar ruthlessly, with the music smothering and burning, the track beating you into oblivion, and everything continuing to scathe and drag you face-first through the mud. The band strikes mercilessly as the song reaches into its second half, with a psychedelic smear reaching into the cut, and the savagery feeling mucky and suffocating. The end simmers in pure carnage, with wild howls giving way, and the final blows administered and spilling blood.

Northless hail from Milwaukee, and their two full-length efforts are favorites around my home. Like Primitive Man, they haven’t given us a full-length since 2013 with the awesome “World Keeps Sinking,” the follow-up to 2011’s eye-opening “Clandestine.” They ply a similar trade as their split mates, just with more of a ferocious hardcore edge to it, and this unit–guitarist/vocalist Erik Stenglein, guitarist Nick Elert, bassist Jerry Hauppa, and drummer John Gleisner–actually has been pretty quiet since their last record, with this split and their upcoming “Cold Migration” 12″ their first new sounds we’ve heard in a long time.

“Deleted Heartstrings” starts Northless’ portion, with a damaged, weird tempo, and a blisteringly heavy assault unleashed. The guitars sprawl all over, dizzying and trudging, with fiery roars blasting you. The back end finds a way to get even grislier, with the band thrashing mightily and the song finally fading. “The 10,000 Year Wound” is thick and crushing, with throaty howls and some really interesting guitar work settling in. There’s even a hint of atmosphere that precedes a destructive finish that bleeds into “Wasted Breath.” There, sounds hover, with slow, doom-infested guitars bubbling up, and sorrowful melodies unfurling and slipping into total hell. A weird, jagged section lands, with some killer riffs churning, burly damage wreaking havoc, and the song coming to a world-smashing finish.

This is a really fitting, ferocious pairing, and there isn’t one second for you to gather your senses during this dual bludgeoning. A new full-length record is very much desired from both bands, if I may be so greedy, but this is a nice tide-over release until that time arrives. After all, we’re probably going to need some time to recover from the bruising this split delivers, so they have some time.

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