Primitive Man Reveal Why 'Caustic' Is Sonically and Thematically Miserable

Primitive Man Reveal Why 'Caustic' Is Sonically and Thematically Miserable
Photo: Alvino Salcedo
Denver, CO blackened doom/noise trio Primitive Man have been known for their increasingly despondent soundscapes since their 2013 debut, Scorn. Following several splits and 2015 EP, Home Is Where The Hatred Is, they've now managed to take their already overwhelmingly miserable sound to new extremes with their sophomore album, Caustic.
 
As vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy tells Exclaim!, the band's main goals for this release were to create their heaviest and most noisy work yet. "We wanted to try to be heavier than ever, and I knew I wanted to do a lot of the noise stuff and [give] it a prevalent spot on the record because we've always flirted with it," he explains. "I've been doing [noise] forever, but incorporating it so much in Primitive Man wasn't really a thing we were doing.
 
"This is what I like to play and this is what happens when I write music, this is just how stuff sounds. I even have moments when I'm like, 'Is this heavy enough? Is this really heavy?' because the bands that I really like in extreme music are bands that not everyone can get down with because it is so crazy, it's so sonically punishing."
 
Caustic is 12 tracks and over 75 minutes of dense, crushing rhythms, as well as abrasive dissonance and bleak, haunting tones. While it's their most noise-ridden release to date, it is also their  darkest and most suffocating. According to McCarthy, the noise elements are what takes Primitive Man's sound to such an intense and overpowering level of dread.
 
"As the songs started to come together, I felt like, 'Well how can we make this even more heavy and more extreme than we can by just being a doom band?' I just feel like there is nothing harsher than noise; it's heavier than shit, so we kind of wanted to pepper that in there. To me, when you're already trying to write disgusting music, I feel like [noise] just gives you this extra added element of disgusting."
 
The sonically depressive and nihilistic mood of Caustic goes hand-in-hand with its lyrical themes, which deal with socio-political/economic matters. "When we were writing all this stuff, I felt like humanity's time was coming to a close a little bit. So the record is just supposed to show the true horror of being alive."
 
McCarthy says that a lot of the negativity comes from a very personal perspective. "I talk about social inequality, I talk about working a dead-end job that's going to get you nowhere," he says. "What it's like to not be wealthy in America. What it's like to be a mixed person in America.
 
"I'm writing about personal beef I have with individuals. I'm writing about friends dying, I'm also writing about when you feel like there's no point to any of this shit," he continues. "So I guess that I'm just writing about everything that's like too fuckin' real in life. And so the music and the art and everything has to reflect that."
 
Getting these emotions out through Primitive Man is how he's able to cope. "If I didn't have that, I would be a miserable piece of shit. I have to have it, I have to. I really need this music thing to be able to be a positive person in my regular adult life because there's just so much to be upset about.
 
"I touch on all this really deep-seated shit because I have no other way of dealing with it, besides being stoned and that's not really enough," he says. "When you're living in it, you just have to wade through it because I don't have a solution. I'm just talking about how I feel."
 
Caustic is out now on Relapse.