Music review

Casting a Scornful Eye: Primitive Man’s One-Note Debut

Filthy. Malignant. Frightening. These words can and have been used to describe Scorn, the debut album of Denver’s Primitive Man, the death/doom metal double team. Those three words are potent adjectives to describe the band’s undeniably angry and depressing musical force. The filthy grinding guitars, the rough, guttural vocals, the frightening bass tones: those adjectives are not at all inappropriate for Scorn. But with that fitting mood, Scorn builds up a number of mixed messages, ones that make the album much less than what it could’ve been. Primitive Man have made an album that is depressing on every possible level, not only in the purposely weighted tones and blackened vocals, but in the fact that this 44-minute death/doom hybrid is one of the most unappealing slogs through metal seen this year.

Scorn opens up with its title track, a 12-minute long grind through some of the heaviest and darkest musicianship this side of Black Sabbath. It’s so weighted and packed with low-tuned riffs that the album doesn’t bring up any kind of consciousness on energy. The members of Primitive Man have prided themselves on a sense of sheer pessimism and depressing tones and in that regard, Scorn does its job incredibly well. This album is devoid of anything resembling positive thinking. It’s the theme of doom and death metal to offer a rebellious and distorted view on music, but Scorn takes that theme and sucks the soul right out of it.

Scorn is an album drenched in monotonous darkness. Doom metal is a genre that possesses those heavy tones, but it also offers melody. It’s unquestionably dark, but that melody is what keeps any great doom metal album from becoming a flat and boring one. On the other hand, death metal is intense and furious, complimented by percussive death growls and aggressive rhythm sections. In Scorn, Primitive Man mixes the two together. It most certainly is heavy and dark, but in combining death growls with doom metal, the album becomes flat and boring. Songs blend together with their stomping tempos; even before the first track is over you’ll begin to get bored.

The album does pick up a little in the song “I Can’t Forget”, an ominous instrumental with clashing drums and ambient soundscapes and in “Black Smoke”, a slightly experimental soundscape track with chanting in the background. “Stretched Thin” is a faster, thrashier song, one that picks up the pace late in the album after over 30 minutes of terribly boring death metal doom. “Stretched Thin” is better, a refreshing glass of water after the potent cocktail of doom/death metal, but once the song’s over, the band regresses right back to painfully repetitive growls and stomping drum smashes.

Primitive Man’s mix of death metal intensity and doom metal heaviness isn’t necessarily an unsteady one. The genres combine seamlessly and the entire album takes some of the better parts from each. However, the album is about as varied and interesting as a brick wall. No song stands out and the entire album drags on considerably because of it. It’s a 40-minute grind of a record that tries to be ambitious, but ends up being an uninteresting slog with no left-turns or shocking melodies to speak of. Even if you’ve gotten involved in either the death metal or doom metal scenes, Scorn cannot be recommended. Primitive Man’s attempt for uniqueness and creativity is admirable, but the end result is a wasteland of bleak and empty metal songs that don’t possess any kind of spark of personality. Stay away from Scorn.