Draw Back a Stump (Relapse)
It’s happened a million times before. Bands head out on tour together a few times, or play some local shows side by side, and before you know it a couple members from one band and a couple members from the other utter the inevitable: “We should totally do a project together!” Where it goes from there could be any number of directions, but it often boils down to a common two.
The first and most likely destination is nowhere. Everyone goes home, sobers up, and forgets about their drunken expressions of utter devotion to the new undertaking and professions of unleashing fresh fury upon the scene. Second is somewhere, but nowhere good. The new best band mates for life get together and mash their collective influences into a genetic mess of a new genre that even the proud new progenitors don’t like.
But when members of MASTODON, BRUTAL TRUTH, THE DESPISED, and OTOPHOBIA get together, there is a third option. Everyone puts all that other B.S. aside and gets down with some good ol’ fashioned dirty punk and grind. BRUTAL TRUTH’s KEVIN SHARP (vocals), MASTODON’s BILL KELLIHER (guitar), along with MIKE BRENNAN (guitar), DAVE WHITWORTH (bass), and SHAYNE HUFF (drums), are the parts that make up the sum of PRIMATE, a punk and grind super group for people who pierce their eardrums with an ice pick at the mere mention of the term super group.
Draw Back A Stump, PRIMATE’s first full-length, sets the basic, belligerent tone with the title track. Sharp’s maniacal ranting on the tenets of Chaos Theory leads into punked-out pinch harmonic grind riffs spewed forth alongside raw, venomous hatred. But considering the grind pedigree of PRIMATE’s front man, this album is far more punk than grindcore. “Global Division” follows up the initial offering with some hardcore and d-beat with southern inflections, understandable given the band hails from Atlanta. The lyrics are typical socially conscious but no less poignant punk fare—“A world of confusion/We live in delusion”–and Sharp does have a knack for the vocal hook that’s immediate and timely.
Kelliher and Brennan let their southern flags fly in their lead work from time to time, but this is no twangy SKYNYRD love fest. It’s hardcore punk bombast and fist pumping pogo all the way with clean production, four chords, and five lifetime’s worth of scene credibility wrapped up in an airtight and ferocious package. Sharp is always Sharp, whether he’s emitting tortured screams or his one-of-a-kind gruff and honest delivery. Songs like “Silence of Violence” seem to have a bit of Euro-crust influence to them, with semi-melodic hooks and thick, memorable riffs. “Drinking and Driving,” a BLACK FLAG cover, the longest track on the record at just under three minutes, is faithful to the original. PRIMATE’s guitar duo perfectly captures GREG GINN’s acid jazz punk leads while Sharp channels the acerbic anger of HENRY ROLLINS.
There are quick blasts of all out rage to be heard as well, like the 46-second “Get the Fuck off My Lawn.” A more appropriate song title for a group of aging punkers I couldn’t imagine. Metallic moments like the lead riff on “March of the Curmudgeon” rear their ugly heads from time to time as well. Though the band has a Mastodon member in its ranks, there’s nary a progressive hint to be heard.
All in all what we have here is a fitting tribute to classic punk, d-beat, and grind sounds that doesn’t attempt to Mastodon plus Brutal Truth equals some kind of bastard child of beardo progressive rock and angry politico grind. The PRIMATE boys have left their regular gigs at home for this one, for the most part, and decided to make something entirely new, the kind of hardcore they probably all crank in the den in the wee hours once the little ones have toddled off to bed. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but it is a warning shot across the bow of punk gone safe from an old guard that is nowhere near ready to be referred to as the old guard with anything less than the right amount of respect, and they have earned it anew with Draw Back a Stump. Get the fuck off my lawn indeed.
PRIMATE: A super-group that for a change, is really super!
by Joe Reviled