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HELLO METAL MY OLD FRIEND

Plumbing The Depths For Spring - Three Bolts From The Black 

T'other night, perhaps in a paroxysm of the usual loathing looking at the NME, I compiled on FB & Twitter a long list of videos that for me summed up the year 1994. 20 years since n all that. Someone popped up saying 'You had a great 94!'. I could only respond honestly (praps why I should stay off FB etc) by saying 'no, it was a fucking horrible year, just like every year before and since. Music never helps, ever'. At first I was surprised by my sudden moodiness, but looking back and taking stock, music genuinely has never really helped in any way and if I was stupid enough to ever think it did I was indulging the worst most self-piteous bit of myself. I would've been better off, my whole life, NOT conning myself with its lies. The 'comfort' music offered was nothing but harmful, for it kept me alive, when clearly better choices could and should have been made along time ago, before it was too late, before I was stupid enough to link my life with others too young, too hopeful to understand why I should not be here, why I should not be. Such a dumb move, sending roots downwards, that will hurt when severed. Condemns you and your offspring to this horrific sentience. Perpetuates the horror that is wakefulness. Interrupts the blissful eternity that could be non-existence, the endless joy that surely unlife is, seeing as life is such a set up for geologically brief bursts of transitory pain. Music cons you with the worse con, that a life can amount to something worth living, that our species, & the speck of eternity you are,  should not self immolate. I'm not blaming music, it can't help being persuasive, loveable, pleasurable, political, philosophical, it comes from people and people have conned me too. Hey, I'm still here. But music is the one human endeavour, the one agglomeration of human thought, that 'sustained' me, and for that I can never forgive it, for that I curse it harder than my lungs can push the words out, or my teeth can grind them down. It's disturbing that art can lend structure or purpose to the only life you have. The only life you have and you waste it chasing this racket, this sham, this act. This act that has conned its protaganists, made them your heroes, and has left you wishing you'd never been born. Inevitable that as ever when lashing myself with such intransigent insolubles, I return to metal. Music shorn of hope. The only type of rock I really care about anymore. Guitars with a purpose, played with utter disgust, determined to sicken, destroy and be destroyed. These three are scalding me at the moment.  


I missed Primitive Man's 'Scorn' last year when it came out because it was at a time when I didn't want music, couldn't focus on anything bar what was happening around me. Right now, I want nothing else other than its molten depths. This is an awful racket with no sham, what it offers is a mirror so clear, a very metal turning of reality inside out to reveal the grim innards, the true depths we can reach when apprehending our shallowness. Pulls at your cells like a witnessed tragedy. It was made by 3 Denverites who have made other things too. When you click on 'lyrics' on that bandcamp page it says, charmingly, 'no-one is listening. no one fucking cares'. What 'Scorn' does is brave and beautiful and baleful in the extreme. It kicks off like a still-twitching corpse with the 11 minute title track and what you can immediately sense is how all the potential pitfalls and prattishness of doom-sludge have been neatly and totally circumvented by PM's method and murderous intent - the guitars here, though supremely distorted and fucked up, are alive with detail, snap their scaly fingers right to the edge of the sound, the riffs constructed with a truly visual sense of theater, a documentarian's eye for the rotations and monomanias of an end-of-tether mind. The way the sound hangs over the ultra slo-mo mid-section in coruscating waves of napalm-like feedback is just gorgeous - gratifyingly though none of this sonic sculpture ever sounds like anything of the sort, never sounds like it was designed to be beautiful, only an instinctive emanation from the soul of 3 very fucked up very pissed off people. The sudden tempo shift to raging thrash sees no let up in the low-end (another problem with so much of this music - just not bassy enough), then a coda of exquisite Obituary/BitchMagnet/Sabbath-style tritonic blues drives the ingots home into your eyeballs, slower, slower still, to a crawl, to a coma, till you genuinely, truly see Hell. A fiery lake of molten despair, a subterranean sun, roundabout 10bpm, you see it, a black hole beneath you within which all light is extinguished. You see it. And with your back to it, you close your eyes, tilt backwards, surrender yourselves to the abyssal depths. One of the most USEFUL pieces of music I've heard in months.

Primitive Man, being monstrously heavy, yesterday
 'Rags' which follows could almost be seen as some kind of blessed relief - it reveals PM's lineage as being some distance from the usual death/grind/sludge/doom suspects, far closer in anti-melody and feel to your Codeines and your BitchMags, even if the ravaged vocals always pull it back to that Celtic Frost 'Monotheist' feel you find so addictive. The noise interludes that punctuate 'Scorn's lavaflow into your ear canal are beautiful, very Cabaret Voltaire/Throbbing Gristle - the first one you hear, 'I Can't Forget' sounds like that bullshit-but-effective 'Siberian Sounds Of Hell' recording that was knocking round the netherworld of the web a few years ago, albeit transformed into a strange kind of muzak for the underground lab in 'Day Of The Dead'. 'Antietam', after the title track, is the other clear highlight here, something intractably unshakeable about the vocal, as if the guy can't quite scrape enough layers of skin off himself, the song lashing down a fast, insanely jagged, totally unique rhythm to rock thus far, then slowing it down, revealing with every torpid repetition the increasingly ugly inner workings, the pulsing bloated veins and wreckage-laden dying fibres of a body and mind falling apart, ending on a monstrous melange of space-rock racket and World Domination Enterprise-worthy heaviosity, as ever impeded to a brutally Sisyphian death march, last rites, last gasp music. 'Black Smoke' is like the first trippy seconds of Monster Magnet's 'Spine Of God' taken to a horrifically new vaporised extreme, a bong passed around the charnel-house, 'Stretched Thin' is as close to conventional metal as Primitive Man get, even then the time-sig fuckery and deeply unsettling sense of naturalism and dissatisfaction PM conjure when it bleeds into the stunning 'Astral Sleep' are far too human, far too effecting, rawly empathetic, to safely file away or forget about. That's the thing throughout 'Scorn', there's something extra going on here, beyond what occured in its recording, some extra vibe of planet-sized hostility and room-sized self-loathing that's impossible to put your finger on but that screams unmistakeably from every darkly deliquescent moment. By the time you're through to 'Lifetime' you've stopped thinking about 'Scorn' as music altogether - it's not composed of chords or rhythms or predictable shapes, rather it comes across as a fully formed explosion of bile and blood, a totally natural emanation from 3 souls in exquisitely tormented congress. Frightened as it is frightening, grief-striken for itself. The sublimely dubbed-out lo-fi Penderecki of 'Innard$' sees us into the closing attack of 'I Am Above You' with Primitive Man finally turning, noticing you have been watching them, appalled at your absorption, hands closing round your neck and ankles, pulling you down for the final grim dance of death, a beautiful dance, one you succumb to willingly. And then you go on with your day utterly changed. Knowing that you've heard something you'd be wise not to return to too soon, but that you'll have to return to eventually. I've found it becomes a weekly, then a daily thing, needing a hit of this. I cannot for the life of me imagine anything better was done with guitars in 2013. I recommend 'Scorn' absolutely unreservedly.


    Also on Relapse and also a fearsomely heavy masterpiece (although it hasn't got under my skin QUITE as much as 'Scorn' has) is the new album from Chicago 'noise-nihilists' INDIAN titled 'From All Purity'. Their 2008 Relapse debut 'Guiltless' hinted that something special was going on here but I say dive straight into the torsioned torture of opener 'Rape' and remain prostrate for 'Purity's duration. Augmenting their four-piece line-up (always loved the fact that they have a member, Sean Patton, credited only as 'Noise') with some distressing electronics from Bloodyminded major-domo Mark Solotroff and a truly inspired production from Chi-town genius Sanford Parker the sheer livid energy of what Indian lay down here strips the flesh from your skull and sucks the goo from your eyeballs and what the fuck, then shits both down your bleeding neck SHIT FUCK PISS CUNT y'see? Y'unnerstand? I'm reminded of Ulver in the vocals, Neurosis in the grooves and heaviosity, but there's something so perfectly realised by Parker here, a sky-high space above, but an intimacy to its attack that still impacts on your body like having girders fired at you by Galaktus - whatever feedback arcs over 'Rape' it seems to be transduced into pure electricity, fizzes like synapses at burnout, the skewered vocals and the medieval drums all that remain once all else dissappears over the edge of the world.The slow gothic grind of 'The Impetus Bleeds' is hovered over by whorls of pure sonic abstraction, even as the bass nails your face to the floor - it's that mix of the bludgeoningly inavoidable and massively suggestive that makes 'FAP' (heh) such a cherishable slab of malevolence. Way more obviously metal than 'Scorn', 'From All Purity' also seals my affections with the startling stuck-in-the-mud groove of 'Rhetoric Of No' and the sheer unholy frightmare of 'Clarity', 5 minutes of bracingly atonal feedback and noise over which a man appears to scream himself out through his own anus. Forcefeed it to friends and enemies alike all Spring.


 
Oh and finally, this bruising blissful beauty came into my life a few days ago, fucked up that day, and every day since. It's by a Portland, Oregon based duo called Towers (just drums and bass) and is an entirely compelling, supremely ear-razing, utterly addictive arsequake of doom that sounds less and less like metal the more you hear it, more like something Wobble/Levene/Atkins would be massively proud of. The entirely analog nature of Towers' recording set-up tells massively, there's a warmth to this wastefulness that lends it the space of Saqquara Dogs, the surge and rhythmic intensity of This Heat or prime Unsane or Buttholes, ugly-pretty vocals splayed queasily through what available space there is, the whole thing collapsing into a rumble of factory drone before krautrocking itself back into a fantastic counter-intuitive DMT-stoner vibe for the fade. Just fucking awesome. For fans of Uffomammut and also human beings as well. See, music can help, especially when it leaves you helpless, music can make you hope, especially when it's utterly hopeless. Bar a new Perfect Pussy demo I see no reason to listen to any guitar music that isn't at this precise noisy, utterly evil end of things this year. Anything less is to imply you're happy with the world and fuck that. In times like this hooks are the last thing we need. We need stuff that can seal OUT the world, and seal us IN on thinking about our revenge. Soon come. Soon come.

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