Modern Primitive sounds like the name of a strange, forgotten art movement, and this strange but well-crafted album seems like the closest thing to a musical version of that weird art that never existed.
The entire album works on a balance between brutality and sophistication, heaviness and melody. We get our first hint of that in the first track, “The Collector”, which starts with an acoustic guitar melody before getting heavier, while the vocals go from weird whispers to death growls. Just like “Neuromancer”, it begins with an acoustic intro that sounds a little like a Greek folk song, before becoming heavier, with a rather heavy and catchy main riff.
This mixture of styles continues with the more symphonic “The Hierophant”, with its growled verses and choir choruses. Another very symphonic track is the pretty catchy “Desert Throne”, and most of all, “Coming Storm”, where both the orchestra and the guitars are relentlessly fast. This is one of the most energetic tracks on the album. It ends on an unexpected clean vocal verse, but it still works in its own way.
“Self Eater” is one of the heaviest tracks, but its vocal performance is one of the most interesting on the album, alternating between growls, spoken word and choirs that may sound either operatic or like something you could hear on a very old folk song. In an ancient Greek ritual, maybe?
I say that because the album uses a lot of mythological references, some taken literally like in “The Collector”, about collecting different parts of Osiris’s dead body, or used a sort of metaphor for the sad state of mankind. In “A Dreadful Muse”, the muse is our inclination towards violence and evil, and the Hierophant could be the same impulse by a different name. The title track, with its dark symphonic death metal sound and haunting choir, is asking if we can repeat the errors of our past or creating something new. The even heavier “Psychohistory” asks the same question. All of this creates an interesting theme for this album, about whether humanity can survive the mess it has created, and how it relates to our beliefs and our ability to create art. Maybe this is what the modern primitive movement is about?
This was a very creative, and rather well-made album. It has managed to craft its own interesting story, and its own pretty original sound. I wouldn’t say it was the most creative or best album I’ve ever heard, it can get a little repetitive at times and aside for maybe “Neuromancer”, “Collector”, “Psychohistory”, “Modern Primitive” and “Self Eater”, most tracks didn’t make me go “Wow!” on first listen. But it’s definitely an album you grow to enjoy, because of its fascinating mix of death metal, symphonies and folk songs, mythology and comment on the human condition. It’s filled with intelligent lyrics that will fuel your imagination, and it’s a very good piece of music.
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