A good split unifies the music of two groups with somehow complimentary styles. This is definitely the case for the fire and brimstone matchup of Primitive Man and Northless: both blackened sludge groups with a penchant for being super pissed off.
Primitive Man out of Denver open this split up wide with a gaping wound of a 15 minute track. My guess is that this is the more familiar of the two groups to most of you. Primitive Man garnered quite a bit of attention for its LP Scorn, as well as a series of EP's a tracks, one of which we just reviewed last year. If you haven't heard them yet, now is as good a time as any to learn about one of the underground's biggest heavy-hitters.
True to form, Primitive Man take things slow and maintain their reputation for repugnant, simple song titles with "Empty Husk." The expansive experience is like to falling into a dark void through layers of oil and molten rubber. It's a joyless, suffocating, and intrusive affair. Play that scene from Fight Club where Jared Leto get's his face smashed on slow-mo and you have the perfect music video for this track.
"Empty Husk" largely keeps in the same vein as previous releases: gutteral bellows of blackened death, endless sustains of downtuned guitars and bass distortion, and plenty of jarring feedback. I will say that I did note a slight shift in aesthetic about halfway through, allowing room for a touch of sorrow in addition to the boiling hatred. The result reminded me of the harsh melodies of Indian. All in all, solid track.
Now Northless I was not familiar with, but they seem to have also been around long enough to put out a few releases of their own. This Milwaukee band matches the anger and aggression of Primitive Man, but focuses more on the sludge end of the spectrum than the blackened. Their sound is not dissimilar to that of The Lion's Daughter with the burly vocal delivery and slightly faster compositions.
Right from "Deleted Heartstrings," you will feel the impact in your gut as the pace changes. You've been lulled into a dark, depressive state as you crawl endlessly to the top of this devious roller coaster, but Northless have now taken you over the summit. Goddam, Flight, pick a metaphor...are we falling into a void or climing into the sky? No matter, as with the songs on this split, I do what I want.
Violence, chaos, dread; it's all here for the taking. Crusty beats compliment Converge and Mastodon guitar work that have been mangled in a car-crusher and set ablaze. Unlike the purposeful plodding simplicity of Primitive Man, Northless have bit of a technical element to their playing, both in the drums and guitar. Riffs at times even bring Botch to mind in addition to their sludgier brethren. All of this is further amplified by the demented screams of Erik Stenglein. "You won't forget!" Most certainly, I will not.