Primate – Draw Back A Stump

About three songs into the debut record by Primate, the new outfit featuring Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth, Bill Kelliher of Mastodon and three other longtime heshers (including members of The Despised and Otophobia), I realized I could describe this as dumbed-down grind with sludge riffs, but I decided that wouldn’t really be fair. I mean, yeah, Primate grinds, and to be honest they grind pretty damn well (and how wouldn’t they with a lineup like this?). And there’s the odd Mastodon riff in there for good measure. But I think my knee-jerk reaction of labeling this “babby’s first grind” mostly comes from hearing Sharp being himself over something that’s not as out-and-out aggressive as Brutal Truth and Venomous Concept, which are pretty tough acts to follow. And it’s clear they’re not trying to grind as hard as possible-there’s a certain southern-fried charm to these songs. So, you know what, I’m going to throw Draw Back A Stump a bone and say it manages to pull off the Georgia-sludge-cum-grind thing they might have invented pretty well. It hits hard, keeps the energy up and it’s pretty fun to play guess-that-band with the various influences they put on display.

It is an acquired taste, though. My first spin of this record, it didn’t really click with me until the halfway point (which is about ten minutes in, so hey, you’ll hit it quick). But around “Wasted Youth”, you’ll start buying what Primate are selling, and round two of this album goes down a lot better, and I started enjoying myself a great deal. “Global Division” kicks off with a traditional punk beat, but a series of guitar flourishes give it just the right taste of other-ness that prevents it from becoming a simple hardcore re-tread. “Hellbound” has a touch of Corrosion of Conformity in its DNA, and “Silence of Violence” has Kelliher showing off some of his obvious Mastodon-isms; the verse riff sounds positively Remission-esque. Probably what keeps this freshest, though, is the sheer level of fun Sharp is clearly having with the material. Sure, the man’s a grind-master at this point, but this is scratching some itch he’s had for a while, and he’s having a ball. Listen to “March of the Curmudgeon” for all the proof you need: his frenzied grunt over the Arabesque riffs stomps so hard it’s practically driving the vehicle.

By the time you’ve looped back around to “Wasted Youth”, you’re pretty much back at the point where you realized Draw Back A Stump was awesome. The wonderfully titled “Get The Fuck Off My Lawn” and “Reform?” take the record to a killer close, reminding us that these dudes can grind hard, southern-style or not. Clocking in at 20 minutes, Primate hit hard on this first record while proving they can do something new. And to top it off, it actually manages to sound like what my mind would’ve conjured if you’d said “Brutal Truth meets Mastodon” to me a year ago. Kudos.