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Preview: Primitive Future

Primitive Future

Updated: 2017-10-20T12:38:58.980-05:00


Thrust Demos


Chicago metal has a strange and not-too-storied history, despite delivering some of the greatest and most influential bands of many metal sub-genres. Anyone who knows anything counts Trouble, Master and Cianide among their favorites. Those who have dug into Paul Speckmann's history give Death Strike & War Cry the respect they deserve on archivist metal blogs. Zoetrope put together some pretty impressive crossover thrash. However, Chicago is currently known for a lot of dumb bands that mistake "experimentation" for creativity, but in the 80s, Chicago was doing it right.

Thrust exists in that nebulous area in the early 80s before thrash metal was a codified genre. This has all kinds of melodic NWOBHM riffs, but is quite a bit more aggressive than even the first two Maiden records. Vocals are bizarrely sing-song in a way that portends the strangeness of Vio-Lence. Each of these songs is a riff fest that traces melodies through linear runs, galloping power chords, and more melodic rock chord progressions. "Speed metal" became something really foolish and cheesy at some point, but these demos showcase what the genre was capable of becoming.

Thrust Demo II

*Thanks to Scott from Cianide for sending these over and letting me post them.

Fenriz Collection: 1996-2004


Inspired by my interview with Fenriz of Darkthrone, I put together of all the tracks from Darkthrone's "middle period" that were penned by Fenriz. After Panzerfaust, Darkthrone entered something of a mid-career lull. While many fans stick to some iteration of the first five records, these Moonfog albums should not be ignored. Part of the reason for the creative downturn is the shifting of much of the songwriting duties from Fenriz to Nocturno Culto. Not that Nocturno doesn't have his moments, ("Rust" from Hate Them) but many of his compositions drag and his melodic sensibility is just a little bit too obvious sometimes, especially given the volume of bands out there tremolo-picking various minor chords.

During this period, Fenriz shifted his composition style away from the hypnotic tremolo-picked melodies that defined Transilvanian Hunger into a much more punkish interpretation of his oft-cited influences: Bathory, Celtic Frost & Hellhammer. This stuff isn't "black metal" in the 90s interpretation of the term that Darkthrone helped create. This is regressive 80s metal. Every Fenriz riff has its own sense of conflict and resolution within itself, and, while strumming patterns are often primitive and repetitive, the melodies create a sense of rhythm.

Some of Darkthrone's middle albums can seem disorganized and boring, but, presenting only Fenriz's tracks creates a much more focused vision. If you haven't paid attention to this stuff before, you're in for a huge treat.

Fenriz Interview


I interviewed one of the main riffmasters of all time over at Invisible Oranges:

Like Rats - Like Rats (2012)


My goal for Like Rats is to create music that could have existed in the evolving extreme metal scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of the bands that are ostensibly related in defining genre parameters don't really sound much like each other. Morbid Angel sounds way different than Suffocation sounds way different than Deicide etc.I wanted to write with the same feelimg as early material from Incantation, Immolation, Darkthrone, and Asphyx without actually sounding too much like any of those bands. I also wanted to maintain the punkish d-beat feel of Celtic Frost and Sodom (who just very clearly loved Discharge and Motörhead). Finally, I wanted to stress the dark melodicism that defines early death metal as well as artists like Dead Can Dance, Prokofiev & Strauss. Speaking of Strauss, trying to touch what these people have done makes me feel like an ape encountering a monolith, but such is life.Here is a track-by-track breakdown with all of the riffs I can remember purposefully stealing. Some are blatant rip-offs and others are a bit more abstracted. I've noticed other acts of thievery upon relistening to the album, but these are the ones that were definitely intentional. Click each link to be taken to a youtube video timestamped to the pilfered riff.Red Dawn:Celtic Frost - Innocence & WrathMorpheus Descends - Proclaimed CreatorFire:Slayer - Piece by PieceDeath Strike - PervertRiver Dread:Immolation - Into Everlasting FireMorbid Angel - Chapel of GhoulsWinter Sun:Sergei Prokofiev - Piano Sonata No. 6Unleashed - The Final SilenceMassacra - Apocalyptic WarriorDark Masks:Krypts - Dormant of the AncientsDarkthrone - Summer of the Diabolical HolocaustDusk:Sepultura - Morbid VisionsCeltic Frost - Eternal SummerDirection:Gorgoroth - Drommer om DodSodom - NuctemeronBloodline:Sergei Prokofiev - Piano Concerto No. 2Celtic Frost - Procreation of the Wicked (probably the single most influential riff on Like Rats)Russian Midnight:Richard Strauss - Also Sprach ZarathustraIncantation - Nocturnal DominiumAnd of course, here are external links for purchasing and listening:Full album stream via DecibelVinyl via A389 RecordingsDigital download via A389 or iTunes [...]

Other Women - Demo (2011)


Other Women is made up of friends who used to be in a band called Regrets, with whom Like Rats played many a gig. Their new band has way more bendy riffs, which is awesome. There's nothing quite like a good bendy riff. This demo is a perfect iteration of heavy, dark hardcore with lots of bendy, chromatic riffs. For fans of hardcore bands that clearly enjoy Celtic Frost (Sheer Terror, New Lows, Gehenna). Bendy riffs, man...

Negativa - Negativa EP (2006)


I'm resurrecting Primitive Future to post this EP, which I've been listening to extensively since I saw Gorguts a month or so back. Obscura is one of my all-time favorite albums, and this EP basically just sounds like Obscura. I also exchanged myspace messages with Big Steeve sometime around 2005 probably, and it blew my mind that someone from one of my favorite bands would take the time to respond to me on the internet. I actually think I just told him the story about my mom buying me a copy of Obscura then immediately making me turn it off when I put it on in the car.

Either way, the riffs on this record are truly strange. One of the most compelling things about Gorguts and Negativa is that, while their riffs are ostensibly nonsensical, they are immediately memorable. If you heard someone playing one of these riffs in Guitar Center devoid of context, you would be irritated and confused. Yet, as part of these songs, they're almost hummable.

Negativa also manages to be heavy in a bizarre, lurching way. Their riffs are occasionally bouncy, but still off-kilter. I know this band was working on a full-length, but unfortunately Big Steeve passed away a few months back.

RIP, Big Steeve.

Karl Sanders Interview


I recently interviewed Karl Sanders about the new Nile album "At the Gates of Sethu" for Alarm Press. Here's the full transcription of the interview. Enjoy.This new record is awesome. By the way.The new what record? The new Nile record? [laughs] Just wanted to clarify which record we're talking about. I'm sure there's a lot of new records out there.There's plenty of new records out there. Not sure if any of them are good, but this Nile record is fantastic. Since you were just practicing, that's actually one of the questions I was going to start off with. On this new album, the lead playing seems to have been really taken up a notch, so I was going to ask what you actually do to practice.Usually my routine starts pretty early in the day. I get up and start working with the metronome. Basic scales and arpeggios. I start off really slow with the metronome, then I gradually work my way up in tempo. After a few hours of that insanity, it's onto new ideas. I'll work on new ideas for different melodic things or different techniques or maybe something I'm learning. I have a pile of instructional DVDs. Anything from Mike Stern to Paul Gilbert to Rusty Cooley to Jeff Loomis to Jeff Beck...I've been quite fond of that one lately.Then, I might work on some new riff ideas for some songs. By that time, I'm pretty well warmed up and my hands can follow along with whatever my brain might come up with.So basically playing guitar is a full-time job for you.Yeah, especially in the last couple years. I had taken quite a bit of abuse on the internet based upon a stupid-ass video that...I should have taken more seriously. We were so completely exhausted on the Ozzfest tour that we just did not have the energy to dredge up the ability to give a fuck. That video, which I got slammed for quite a bit, just really...It was really, really psychologically crushing. I'm going to take all of this ill will that people are throwing at me and turn it into a motivational iron will to improve. So that's what I've been doing the last few years. Just fucking working my ass off to push forward. What are you working on right now?I'm doing four finger patterns in diatonic natural minor. In each position, the four finger pattern changes so it takes a lot of fucking concentration. I'm working on that, trying to be able to move between the four different shapes. It's quite a challenge.Do you do any improvisational work in practicing?Sometimes after I'm finished with working on scales, I might just play whatever. Just jamming some blues with my kid and whatnot. That's fun. He's into...get this...Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Eric Clapton. My seventeen year old kid...that's what he's into. Go figure!Hey man, that works out fine. Those are some hot licks there. Obviously to progress you have to continue to challenge yourself. Do you challenge yourself with other people's ideas or with your own? Which do you find to be more beneficial?I think other people's ideas are a jumping-off point. I might learn a Rusty Cooley lick, but the next challenge is to make it your own. To take it somewhere new melodically or to take the pattern and invert some way personalize it. That's really where I try to steer to. Even if I learn something, I try to make it my own and take it someplace that's a little personal.In terms of actually composing these Nile songs, where do these riffs come from? Are you humming melodies to yourself? Are they coming out of licks that you practice?On this record, like I usually do, I write the lyrics first.When it came to writing the riffs, I did it just a little bit differently. Every day, after I'd gotten warmed up with a bunch of technique and stuff, I'd sit with the guitar and the lyrics sheet and just start riffing. Sometimes I'd just leave the recorder on. I've got my cabinet in the next room with the mic on it that goes straight to a digital record. I'd just record every [...]

Weekend Nachos Interview


I recently interviewed Weekend Nachos, and the results are posted over at Invisible Oranges.

Take a look.

There is no future without the past...


The death of Mediafire has pretty much killed the primitive past. Sorry guys. E-mail me if there's something in particular that you want and I'll see if I can get you what you're looking for.

Shoes - Black Vinyl Shoes (1977)


(image) My friends in Merlin Wall seem to have gotten quite a few ideas from this Shoes album. Which also happens to boast one of the worst covers of all time. This is distant-sounding power pop with the hooks and melodic sensibility that discerning consumers demand from their catchy rock music.

Cianide - A Descent Into Hell (1994)


I've been readinga few "best of" lists from 2011, and the only record that I've listened to with any consistency from 2011 is Cianide's Gods of Death. As such, I present you with one of Cianide's early achievements. This band has been basically putting out the same album since the early 1990s. This albums is a logical extrapolation of Hellhammer's Apocalyptic Raids as well as "Procreation of the Wicked." This is fully primitive, and fully cohesive. Support this band.

Beautiful Mother - Vanilla (2011)


(image) My nice friend and roommate Andy has collaborated with my other friend Dan on a collection of songs about sexual shame and dysfunction. Andy also plays bass in Like Rats and guitar in Weekend Nachos. Dan plays drums in Like Rats. This is highly recommended for fans of Steve Albini, Skin Graft Records, and nullos.

Steve Taylor - I Want to be a Clone (1982)


Here is a bizarre, Christian new wave record that is cooler than almost every black metal record I've heard. Abort all fools.

Jimmy Jones - Watch Out for da Big Girl (1996)


(image) Watch out for da big girl. Watch out for da big girl. Watch out for da big girl. Watch out for da big girl. Watch out for da big girl. Wath ouy foe ad gig birl.

Hossam Ramzy - Best of Hossam Ramzy


Biggest seller on this thing is the version of "Khusara Khusara," popularly known to white people as the song sampled in "Big Pimpin'." This was part of a healthy stash left in our apartment by previous tenants. Get high off of my supply.

Cianide Interview


I interviewed legendary Chicago death metal outfit Cianide over at Invisible Oranges, so take a look ya turkey: Cianide interview

"We're just neanderthals. I'm cutting my lawn with a Venom shirt on, just sweating. Total neanderthal shit, man."

Their new record is also amazing, so consider enjoying that.

Arab on Radar - Queen Hygiene II (1997)


(image) As a man afflicted with sexual dysfunction in the form of debilitating delayed ejaculation, Arab on Radar comforts me. I'm not the only one. I'm not the only one who is broken.

Huey "Piano" Smith - Having a Good Time (1959)


(image) This chunk of proto-rock/proto-R&B has the same song over and over, but at least it's a good song. It also has the same descending piano lick over and over, but at least it's a good lick.

"Don't You Just Know It" was on these Wolfman Jack compilation tapes my dad gave me as a youth, and I was obsessed with it. I had impeccable taste, even as a child. Somehow that all went wrong around the onset of puberty when I got really into ska.

Anyway, this shit is unbearably catchy, and you can probably make some friends with these call & response choruses.

Patrick Stump Interview


I interviewed Patrick Stump not too long ago when he played at Schuba's in Chicago, and I present here the un-truncated transcription. If you're interested in the mind of a pop song genius or two guys nerding out about Michael Jackson, keep reading. Also, his EP Truant Wave, is, as expected, weird, super-catchy, and vaguely reminiscent of Prince, so track that down.||||||||Bottled water? Pillaging the earth of its resources? Actually, I’m super against the bottled water. But, on this tour, logistically it was kind of rough. I was going to get the water bottles that have the filter in them. I figured I’d take water off the rider, because, even if it’s coming out of the pipe brown, if it’s going through a filter, it’s going to be fine. I couldn’t find it in time. Consumer ethics on tour are tricky. It’s rough, man! Eating at McDonald’s and… Well, I still don’t break that rule. I won’t eat at McDonald’s on tour. I will occasionally in other countries out of morbid curiosity. I just want to see what happens there. What does happen there? Everything is regionalized. Everything is regionalized. If you go into Canada, you can get poutine. You go to Japan, and you can get wasabi for the nuggets. They have lobster in Maine. Sometimes it’s cool to try it. Well, I haven’t done the lobster, since Maine is in America and that breaks my rule, but… [laughs] You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. So let’s get into this a little. One of the things that I’m very curious about is that, since you’re doing this by yourself and there’s a lot going on in the songs…is this all a fully-formed product in your head that you then pick out or do you create something then layer it? It’s hard to describe, because it kind of is a fully-formed thing in my head. It’s just a matter of what sounds am I going to use to achieve that. Somebody like Michelangelo, you know, somebody huge….was saying that he starts with a rock…well, “started,” he’s been dead for awhile now…Anyway, he would see his finished product in there, and it was his job to get it out. It’s kind of like that, in that I know what I want to get, and I know what I want it to sound like. Actually, you can go overboard trying to get it, too, since you’re by yourself, and there’s nobody there to stop you, and you can layer on as many things as you want. There is a lot of experimentation, but I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want it to sound like. I imagine a lot of details like that come out in “jamming,” but you can’t really just “jam” if you’re doing it by yourself. That’s interesting because I don’t really “jam” that well. Sometimes I have creative dreams where I’ll get flashes of it, and then I just have to figure out how to do that. That happens to me a lot. A lot of these songs are things that I heard it in my head pretty much as it is, and then I have to go back and reverse engineer it to get it that way. Similarly, something like Prince, where that dude is just a maniac… And I know for sure that he just does kind of screw around sometimes and he is just experimenting with things. I think in some other interview you referenced Timbaland. Yeah, yeah! His drums are huge to me! So, something like that is just layers upon layers. So, you have a pretty good idea of the rhythm you’re looking for? Yeah! I’ll know the general groove. Lyrics come last in that context. They might be written beforehand, but they get applied to the song last. On my version of Thriller, it has the home demo of “[...]

Gorguts - Obscura (1998)


(image) One of my first trips to Chicago's Metal Haven (RIP) was part of a lunch date with my mother. I had recently gotten into "technical death metal" and I was obsessed with Cryptopsy. I hadn't heard Gorguts, but I was aware that they were another totally crazy French-Canadian death metal band. A promo copy of Obscura was in the used section, and I bought it (along with a dumb Marduk CD I think). I put it on in the car ride home, and my mom immediately asked me to turn it off.

This record is absolutely insane. So heavy. So weird. Consistently one of my favorite albums ever since that fateful day what must have been eight years ago.

Party Boyz - The Bass, The Booty & The Cash (1992)


I've been posting a lot of serious metal records recently, so maybe you guys forgot that I like Miami bass. While Miami produced many impeccable singles such as "Tootsee Roll," "Face Down, Ass Up," and "Whoomp! (There It Is)," the full-length albums from these artists were surprisingly good as well. We've got a sort of Motorhead effect, where consistency and steadiness rule the day. Clearly, there is a Miami bass framework, and, if you just plug in clever and vulgar lyrics, you can create LP after LP of songs that I want to listen to.

The highlight of this record is obviously "give me hed til I'm ded." I too am the one who wants head until I'm dead.

Tom Warrior Interview


When Triptykon came through Chicago a few months ago, I got to interview my musical hero Tom G Warrior. I also gave him a Like Rats 7", so hopefully he thought that was cool. The interview ran on the Alarm Press blog, but I'm posting the full thing right here right now. Enjoy.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------You’ve taken control of everything at this point. Having read your books, you’ve experienced some shady practices in the music industry. For the new Triptykon LP and this new EP, have you successfully navigated the treacherous waters of the music industry?I would say yeah. We had the advantage of having a huge framework in place because of Celtic Frost’s last album. When we reformed Celtic Frost, we decided to keep control over everything. We formed a record company, Prowling Death Records, we formed our own music publishing company, and we put a framework in place of a manager and a combination of other things. When I left Celtic Frost, all of these people decided to come with me. I’m very happy about that, actually, and I was able to build Triptykon on the basis of that.We retain control of everything. We have partnered with Century Media, which is a fantastic partnership. But, at the end of the day, we call all the shots, we own all the rights, every single sentence that is being released in the advertising goes over my desk, and so on. It’s a much better proposition than it used to be in the 80s when record companies just did whatever they wanted to do with everything we created.The Shatter EP and the Eparistera Daimones LP are part of the same body of creative work. Can you comment on what you’re trying to accomplish with this, be it an emotional agenda, a political agenda, or any or all of the above?Probably all of the above, but, on this first album, it’s predominantly emotional. Of course, the sessions from the first album reflect some of the turmoil that existed when I left Celtic Frost. There’s no way around it. There’s some social commentary in songs such as “Goetia,” but, by and large, it’s my own feelings about leaving Celtic Frost, leaving my own band, leaving the summary of my life behind in a forced manner.I think the next album will be slightly more balanced. Nobody’s forced to read the lyrics, nobody’s forced to read the liner notes. We provide very detailed information but by no means are you required to read all that. Music is music at the end of the day, and, with music, you should create your own images in your head. I think it’s perfectly possible to listen to Triptykon without dealing with the lyrics or the liner notes. The music is intense and dark enough.When I was a teenage fan, I didn’t speak English so well, so I just listened and the music created its own images in my head, and that’s the way it should be. It’s probably better that way.The EP is simply the remaining tracks from the sessions. It’s not us releasing garbage or anything like that. We did very detailed pre-production before heading into the studio and we weeded out the songs that we felt were not suitable. Everything we recorded in the studio was designed to be released, but the album had such long playing time that we decided to do an additional EP later on. The song “Shatter” is, to me, actually one of the most important Triptykon songs written so far. It’s a very personal song, and, for me, musically very interesting. It’s really a standalone product, it’s not just u[...]

Varathron - His Majesty at the Swamp (1993)


(image) For a brief period in the early 1990s, Greek metal bands zeroed in on the "epic but not cheesy" market. This album is the best of the bunch as far as I'm concerned.

Tempos rarely rise above a mid-paced stomp, giving this album the feel of Celtic Frost's "Procreation of the Wicked" or one of Iron Maiden's longer epics, and this album is full of harmonic minor single-string riffs. Also, do you guys remember when Dave Mustaine freaked out about sharing a bill with Rotting Christ and also had beef with Dissection? Hilarious.


Zero Kama - The Secret Eye of L.A.Y.L.A.H. (1984)


(image) While Zero Kama's back story is tailor-made for angsty pseudo-goth teens (instruments made out of human bones!), this record is totally unsettling regardless of any attached narrative. Steady rhythms touch the innate capacity for ritualistic behavior while aimless melodies induce crawling skin and altered perceptions of reality. If you want to doubt your own humanity for an hour, this recording is for you.

Hall & Oates - Voices (1980)


(image) A recent comment on this blog called me a cross between SR Prozak & an effeminate hipster, which is really cool to me. Also, according to people who I know, "hipsters" are really into Hall & Oates these days. If this is true, this is the greatest thing that hipsters have ever done, because Hall & Oates are the epitome of genius.

This is Hall & Oates's best record, and this is their most "rock" record. Some of this kind of sounds like Buzzcocks and I also hear quite a bit of the power pop of the 70s creeping into these songs. Either way, choruses are super catchy, but the verses and pre-choruses of these songs often offer the most interesting twists, regularly catching me off guard with wildly unexpected melodic phrasing. Check out the aggressively successful hit single "Kiss on my List" for a perfect example. That pre-chorus, man. That pre-chorus makes me want to become a better person.

In a cool "connect the dots" moment, one can see how the chords at the beginning of "Hard to be in Love with You" became "Out of Touch" a few years later. You've gotta lotta nerve, Daryl Hall. (got-ta lot-ta)