Double Play: New Albums From Primate & Gaza

Two reviews for the price of none!

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

 

Primate

Draw Back A Stump

Relapse Records

Here’s the funny thing. I don’t like Brutal Truth. I wanted to like them, I really tried to like them, but it just never came to me. Due to that, something fronted by Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp held zero interest for me. Well, I was wrong, really wrong, very wrong. Primate, the supergroup fronted by Sharp and consisting of Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher, plus drummer Shayne Huff, bassist Dave Whitworth and guitarist Evan Bartelson (all of the band Curmugeon), is a nut-crushing good time. 

Let’s clear one thing up; technically Primate’s album Draw Back A Stump is a re-release with two bonus tracks and some demo stuff. Really though, with the re-mixing, re-mastering and new songs, the band considers this a new release. Let’s join them in that shall we? Good. 

Draw Back A Stump is combination of old style eighties hardcore, some grindcore and a bit of the sludgy metal for good measure. The entire record clocks in at twenty minutes so the band blasts through these ten songs like a runaway Mack truck strapped with dynamite and heading for that damn C4 factory.

Draw Back A Stump opens with Kevin Sharp screaming about Chaos Theory over machine-gun fire music. Fast is the keyword here; everything involved with Primate is fast. Ninety seconds after it begins, the opening track ends and “Global Division” barrels right into your chest. Sharp maintains his witty and intelligent lyrics even as the band rips through solos, blast-beats and all kind of extreme metal bells and whistles.  If you’re a fan of Poison Idea, old COC, Nuclear Assault, Agnostic Front or Black Flag, then the musical shrapnel from Draw Back A Stump should rip through your flesh with great enjoyment.

Speaking of Black Flag. I’m not big on Black Flag covers. You can’t do it better than they did so why try? When I saw that Primate dropped a cover of “Drinking And Driving” on the record my snob nose turned right up. Again, I was wrong. Primate’s cover of the classic Black Flag tune is not only true to the original, it manages to make the song heavier.  The same can be said for the SOD cover “March Of Curmudgeon”. Primate make these covers their own without sacrificing what made them great to begin with.

There’s been a recent movement to try and bring back this style of old hardcore and metal. For the most part the attempts have come off like nostalgia trips or a band of old men trying to relive their glory days. Primate is a different beast (pun fully intended) altogether. This is a kick ass good time played by guys that may have grown up with this style but stayed relevant through the years with their own musical ideas. Taking that creativity and combining it with the love for speed metal, hardcore, thrash, grind and all combinations of those styles, allows Draw Back A Stump to keep the faith but never lose the edge.

 


Gaza

No Absolutes In Human Suffering

Black Market Activities

Blasting rapid fire anger in spurts towards a humanity it can neither comprehend or tolerate is Gaza. This Salt Lake City based grindcore, sludgecore, insert-style-and-add-the-term-core band returns with No Absolutes In Human Suffering, their 3rd opus of groove, experimental, melodic and expansive music anchored by a violent rage that would have the Hulk looking at these guys saying “Relax dudes, it’ll be okay.” Gaza have been kicking around for several years and live they are absolutely unstoppable. I recently saw them with Torche, COC and Black Cobra and they nearly stole the entire show. Sadly, much like Kiss, Gaza has never been able to duplicate their live ferocity on record.

That all changes with No Absolutes In Human Suffering.  I’m not sure if it’s a new producer or the band discovered how to pull away the mud curtain but damn if they haven’t stepped up their recording game. The guitars are pummeling and harsh but clear and epic. The drums pound like a hammer and the bass clogs along, pushing the entire record towards its obvious date with collapse. The crisp production doesn’t sacrifice the heaviness or the sludge factor; it just makes the band sound better and more professional.

What separates Gaza from the thousands of other bands using the screaming grindcore kick is that they actually craft songs.  Anger doesn’t work alone; you need a song to back up that rage. No Absolutes In Human Suffering is filled with creepy guitar sweeps, off the cuff solos, time changes and crescendos that fill out the otherwise pummeling riff work. The guitars do so much that it allows the bass to do more and the drums to follow the bass into that arena. Gaza sound like turmoil, as if the band was about to fall apart under their own chaotic musical landscape. They never do though, the guitar changes and impressive use of dynamics saves them from being just another fast and angry band.

“The Truth Weighs Nothing” is a fast burn but a real standout track. Clocking in at about a hundred seconds, the tune displays how much Gaza can cram into a short burst of time. As the music changes come swiftly, the vocals insight all kinds of images of the world burning. When vocalist Jon Perkins screams, “Wake the fuck up” you instantly want to light fires in every mall or chain restaurant you can find. 

Following that is “Not With All The Hope In The World”, a nearly seven minute epic of tiny bits and violent pieces all stitched together into one massive structure. Fast to start and then descending into a High On Fire mid-section, the song constantly fucks with your equilibrium. I love that Gaza; both musically and lyrically, keep you off balance. I like when a band pokes my brain like a rat. Oh, you really like this groove? Fuck you it’s going fast. Oh, you really dig this riff? Fuck you it’s time for dissonance. Gaza dares you to like them and I totally respect that.

Perhaps the most moving section of the entire album is the middle of “Routine And Then Death”. Amidst all the musical chaos comes a silence, then a melancholy guitar line that freezes the whole song. Even when the heaviness begins around it, the power of this single guitar line is amazing. Thoughtfulness in grindcore? Introspection from a genre that is all about getting the poisons out of you? Gaza understands that to purify and burn you have to see everything and they write the music accordingly. No Absolutes In Human Suffering is a triumph not just for Gaza as a band but the genre as a whole.