Review Roundup: Primate/Wadge/Combat Astronomy

Draw Back A Stump EP
Primative Recordings

Primate is the new ‘supergroup’ (a dreaded term if there ever was one) featuring Brutal Truth’s Kevin Sharp and Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher, among others. They seem to be pitching themselves here as a grind band, but I sense they’re having too much of a good time here to be balls-out grind. There’s a real punk ‘n’ roll vibe going on here too, and the result is a cracking EP that will leave you thirsting for more.

Draw Back A Stump’ comprises seven tracks in total, including a cover of Black Flag’s ‘Drinking and Driving’. The standouts for me though are undoubtedly ‘Hellbound’, with its gang-vocal chorus and Kelliher’s soloing all over it, and closer ‘Reform?’, which provides the EP with a solid blast of surging raw power. Not as vicious as their main projects (or in Kelliher’s case, certainly not as epic), Primate avoid the pitfalls of most supergroups and succeed just by playing to their strengths. Here’s hoping for more of the same.

Grindcore Lu’au
Grindcore Karaoke

This is the first release from Agoraphobic Nosebleed mainman J. Randall’s label, Grindcore Karaoke, and it’s something right out of the box. Canada’s Wadge mix drum-machine grind with surf rock (as if you didn’t guess from the title). That doesn’t mean they’re breaking out into Beach Boys covers, but indeed the Hawaiian flavour is prevalent in this record. Just perusing through some of the titles confirms this – ‘That Little Grass Shack’, ‘Pineapple Sickness’, ‘Demon Dogs of Waikiki’ being just a few of the gems on offer.

Indeed, this surf rock/grind combination first becomes truly apparent on ‘Extremity Jet-Planed/Eyes of Crust/Obstinate Erection’ – a three part track which culminates with the first sound of a surf rock riff. It’s a joy to behold and you might want to break out a pina colada as you jive to it. However, the lo-fi production and lack of overall quality starts to weigh it down and at fourty minutes, it is a little bit of a stretch. Still, Randall is giving it away for free, and it is worth checking out.

Combat Astronomy
Flak Planet

Finally in this round-up, something really out of left-field. This is Combat Astronomy’s sixth release, and it really defies classification. It’s not really metal – though it does have that sort of appeal, given its heaviness.  There’s a heaping helping of jazz spicing things up here and it’s a real mish-mash of elements. I don’t listen to much jazz, if any at all, so I’ll sum up as best I can.

For the most part, it is pretty damn good. It’s not unlike Meshuggah in places, given the somewhat technical aspect of their music. Opener ‘The Stone Tape’ is the best example. It’s a little more restrained that some of the later tracks and the instruments all synchronise well with one another. After that, they let loose with the saxophone and the album unfortunately suffers as a result, in particular on ‘Zona’, which has piano plinky-plonking all over it as well and doesn’t seem cohesive. ‘Flak Planet’ does regain its balance later on with the four-part ‘Inverted Universe’ tracks that close the album, which bring together all these elements to provide a satisfying conclusion.

This is a solid album that is certainly challenging – if you don’t like jazz, you may well hate this. But do give it a listen if you’re of an experimental disposition – you may well be surprised.

Peter Clegg

Combat Astronomy on Bandcamp
Zond Records – home of Combat Astronomy


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