Devastating death metal is the order of the night. Concrete slab-throwers Primitive Man have returned to desecrate TO alongside fellow Denver inhabitants Spectral Voice – one of the more dynamic acts to ignite the death metal subterranean in recent history. Lee’s Palace is buzzing with extreme metal adherents eager to abuse their aural capabilities.
Primitive Man & Spectral Voice @ Lee’s Palace, 24 March 2018
with openers Minors and IRN
Dark Descent Records boys Spectral Voice were birthed in 2012 but released their debut full-length Eroded Corridors of Unbeing last year, following a spate of demos, some of which made waves in the dank death metal underground. These Colorado dwellers probably garnered a sizeable portion of their fan base from their other act, the highly lauded tech death outfit Blood Incantation. Not bad being a part of two of the premier underground death metal outfits! The four-piece waste no time ushering typically ’90s-sounding death doom metal. The guitar tone has the same level of antisocial brutality that Evoken have, although the music is less focused on complexity and atmosphere in favour of straight-forward bludgeoning like Disma.
Playing funeral doom in front of intoxicated punters as a support is a brave risk for obvious reasons but Spectral Voice’s face-rearranging rhythms, introspective guitar leads and ancient death meal homage equip the music with an energetic sensibility that transposes itself well into the live realm; the audience’s reaction appears to corroborate this. ‘Thresholds Beyond’ and ‘Terminal Exhalation of Being’ are particular highlights and the Americans’ animated stage presence oversees no deficit of heads banging. The black cherry on the top is that the sound is great and increases the dread factor. This is a stellar performance that communicates the music even better than listening to the record.
Headliners Primitive Man have their work cut out for them in surpassing their support. It’s surprising to see them back live in Toronto so soon following their debut North American trek in November with Bell Witch. It’s encouraging to see them play Lee’s Palace, double the size of the Coalition, where they were last crushing skulls. For a trio, they sure are a noisy collective. For the whole set, frontman ELM has his microphone stand facing to the side of the stage, avoiding frontal contact with the crowd. Their harrowing notes can collectively be termed sludge/doom with plenty of death metal influence. The music is simultaneously chilling, pressurizing and violent. It’s like getting your skin dissolved by corrosive acid, very depressing and hate-strewn music.
A heady helping from last year’s sophomore album Caustic is aired out including ‘My Will’, ‘Victim’ and ‘Tepid’. The music drags its weighted toxic corpse through the venue, leaving a sulphuric scent in the air. The sound remains fantastic for Primitive Man, sounding optimally sludgy without the instruments bleeding into each other. It’s challenging metal to appreciate and could be the reason why some attendees’ patience is whittling away and their banal conversations disrespectfully perforate Primitive Man’s music. There is more variation that meets the eye on display. Guitars are punctuating, stinging or foreboding. The drums alternative between death metal stomps and sinister build ups. Admittedly, the three-piece are not as vigorous as Spectral Voice but the music is still deliciously misanthropic and spiteful on its own merit. Their set ends quite abruptly and without an encore but satisfyingly enough. As a standalone act, they can be considered solid but playing after Spectral Voice is a difficult act to follow. Still a glorious night for two different but equally intriguing strains of malignant metal.