Primal: Deathzone

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Primal: Deathzone
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Black Metal
The End of Time Records, Quid Est Veritas Productions
December 11th, 2011
Release length: 43:49
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Signed to Quid Est Veritas Productions, Primal is a Polish Black Metal group that only recently formed, taking shape in 2008. Another one-man endeavor, Deathzone marks the debut full-length album, following two demo recordings, as well as a split with Deep Desolation and label mates Iugulatus. This outting is described on the Metal Archives as an “inhuman, antireligious, modern black metal project.” With such an introduction present to bolster anticipation, does Deathzone live up to the expectations, or does this recording fall short of meeting them?

While subject to the one-man band stereotype, the audio doesn’t exactly fall prey to it. Deathzone has a nice production quality to it that comes off very professional and crisp. The guitars have a slightly deeper distortion to them, but it works to establish a darker, oppressive tone without branching into the Depressive style. This sounds great with the subtle bass guitar performance that can have its presence felt in the mix, though it can be a bit hard to pick out of the mix. The drums don’t really sound too human, perhaps coming from a drum machine. The cymbals are the telling tale of that, sometimes cut off before they completely ring out, but that could be the distance they are from the forefront of the mix playing games with your perception. The bass kicks have a thunderous click to them that tears through everything, while the tighter snares are at the same levels as the cymbals. The vocals come through well too, not really being too enthusiastic, but the harsher, even gurgeling at times performance works well to give the dismal sound a more vile output, complimented well with the strong echo they carry.

But, while the music itself sounds good as far as production goes, it doesn’t always sound that way as far as the quality goes. One of the biggest issues you’ll pick up on immediately with Deathzone is the timing being a bit off, or just as if there’s a whole other song in the background. “Angel’s Hatred” kicks off with some decent keyboards, establishing a haunting introduction that appears again during the instrumental “The Prophecy.” This goes on for a very brief while before the actual music kicks right in with some really haunting chords that immediately pull your attention to them, and not the drum performance that in no way works with the rhythm the riffs are establishing due to having a much faster beat than what the guitar and bass are performing. This constantly occurs and is really distracting, especially in the emptier passages where the guitars allow the drums to come through more due to gaps of silence on their end. However, when the drums are cut out, and the far more haunting riffs hit around the four minute mark, you can see the truly unsetteling potential that Primal has, eventually taking shape in a much stronger offering with better timing and execution with one exception closer to the end.

Similar issues appear throughout the album, and it’s something you’ll have to take with a grain of salt. While it can be greatly infuriating, it doesn’t necessarily kill the song whenever it hits. If you can deal with the timing problems, you’ll find some decent material present, “Angel’s Hatred” included. “Deathzone” is a rather creepy track that doesn’t find the instruments going off-time with one another that badly. The drumming isn’t the most amazing, but it works to fill the music behind the creepy guitar riffs, and the slower passages help to push the atmosphere along, especially in many of the leads. There are times where the guitars seem to have an abrupt or hard time shifting from one sound to another though, such as around the five minute mark when the distortion seems to be stuck, causing a fault in the chords, then switching back to normal. There’s also “Book of Revelation,” another slower to mid-paced offering with not-too-impressive drumming once more, but the shifting is often quite better. Sometimes it may not seem evident enough, and the music will pick up almost at random earlier on for a very brief amount of time, though it seems to only happen once. On top of that, you have a guitar solo half way through that simply isn’t impressive, which isn’t much of a shock since none of the others before, or even after, really stand out.

Deathzone isn’t that bad an album, but in no way is it really all that good. Primal has plenty of good concepts working for it, as well as a strong darker, creepier atmosphere. However, for every positive element of the album, there’s far more complications that greatly outnumber them. There are many off-beat sections, unimpressive guitar solos, areas that sound like uncorrected errors in the performance, and other complications really do make it hard to sit down and be that impressed. While you could argue these issues were meant to be part of the album, sometimes it truly feels as if it’s either just laziness when it came to correcting a problem, or even a lack of knowledge or rhythm working against really strong Black Metal riffs. One spin through Deathzone will show some potential from Primal, but hopefully future efforts will find him collaborating with studio members or building a full band since it seems those individuals are necessary to make this a much more fluid act. Nowhere delivering on the promises illustrated earlier in the review, this album ends up a better collector’s piece, or even secret weapon to ward off music theory students, than it does a recording you can come back to after the initial few spins, if even after the first.

01. Angel’s Hatred – 6:24
02. Wrath of the God – 6:27
03. Deathzone – 6:47
04. [untitled] – 0:39
05. Book of Revelation – 7:08
06. The Prophecy – 1:20
07. Liars – 5:56
08. Son of the Morning – 9:08
Overall Score: 3/10
Primal (band)
Primal
Physical review copy of this release provided by The End of Time Records.