This band of damn dirty apes is made up of Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp, Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher and members of Atlanta’s The Despised, Otophobia and Javelina. Last year, a smaller version of Primate self-released a smaller version of Draw Back A Stump, an EP limited to a run of 1000 CDs. Since then, Relapse picked up Stump, and the band picked up a rhythm guitarist. The seven songs that comprised that earlier EP are all here, now with additional guitar tracks, plus three new songs to draw Stump up to (almost) a full-length, and the whole twenty-minute thing is remixed and remastered. So it’s a new version of a year-old deal, but one you probably missed anyway, and even if you didn’t miss it then, two of the new tracks are two of the best and angriest on hand, so it might be worth trying again.
Generally speaking, Primate falls closer to the first half of their hardcore/grind formula than to the latter, though there is certainly enough grinding to warrant the descriptor and to appease fans of Sharp’s regular gig. Stump is a raucous racket, on either side of the line, upping the aggression factor most in the chaos-theory-espousing title track, the slightly ridiculous Pledge Of Allegiance-trashing “Silence Of Violence,” and the blistering 47-second “Get The Fuck Off My Lawn.” (The latter of those is one of the bonus tracks that better this second coming of Stump – the other is the trudging “March Of The Curmudgeon.”) The production is stout – more metal than punk – and the performances are perfectly professional. Sharp sounds better in his Brutal Truth approach than in this full-bellowed yell, but Kelliher’s riffs balance the one-dimensional vocals. Those guitars are meaty and punchy, and the whole of Stump is thick and bruising, the production often as responsible for the impact as any of the songs or riffs. I haven’t heard the earlier version, the rawer version sans new guitars, so I can’t compare and contrast the two, but when I enjoyed the disc, I frequently found myself more impressed with Stump‘s sound than with its actual tunes.
Still, though it sounds good and its grinding highlights push towards Sharp’s better work in Brutal Truth, the remainder of Stump falls into a hardcore punk middle ground, qualitatively neither here nor there, by no means bad but nothing triumphant. Tracks like the rawk-tinged “Drinking And Driving” are fun in the moment, for sure – as is “Hellbound” and “Wasted Youth” – but none of them are anything more than straightforward hardcore punk tunes rocked by metalheads. Of the lot of those, “Pride” rips more than most, riding simple but effective riffs, though it dies a bit too soon, just as it drops into a deceptively short bass-led break right at the end.
Ultimately, Primate feels like a fun aside for its band members, and that’s probably it in a proverbial nutshell. It’s a well-done nod to its influences in every respect, and in the end, it is what it is: a side project. Nothing here is in any danger of eclipsing either Mastodon or Brutal Truth, as nothing here even remotely equals either (or really attempts to) – it’s just a good time for the band, a chance to pay tribute and have fun. The fact that it’s fun enough for the rest of us to share in at least a part of the band’s good time is as worthy of note as it is true, but even that is not enough to make Draw Back A Stump anything greater than some pleasantly pummeling monkeying around.