Primitive Race ‘Soul Pretender’ Review: supergroup gets stylistic facelift on sophomore album.
When Primitive Race formed in 2013, it was an industrial supergroup of revolving members cultivated by band mastermind Chris Knikr. Things have changed on their latest release Soul Pretender, (out November 3rd on Metropolis Records). The group have undergone a sonic makeover more in common with heavy alternative rock (with a healthy dose of post-punk texture added in for good measure).
This release also focuses on only one vocalist, that being former Faith No Moreand Bad Brains frontman Chuck Mosely. The group also have a powerhouse back beat thanks to Melvins drummer Dale Crover.
Kickoff track Row House is full of angular wall-of-sound guitar providing counterpoint to Mosely’s gravelly, subdued vocals. This will likely surprise those whose knowledge of Mosely begins and ends with Faith No More songs like We Care A Lot. He offers a more varied sonic palette here that adds dimension to slow burn tracks like Cry Out and Stepping Stone. His instrument has deepened into a dusky croon, less focused on bluster and more on atmosphere.
Guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite continues to prove he’s one of the most underrated (and versatile) guitarists working today, mixing it up between bludgeoning power chords and more delicate textures, befitting his work with artists as varied as The Mission U.K., Revco, Tricky and Gary Numan.
As a result of the band’s iconoclastic pedigree the album is appropriately eclectic–Take it All has a dash of Faith No More bluster (complete with piano), while Bed Six tips its hat to Killing Joke. The album’s title track is another standout, a shadowy, ominous charmer that never sacrifices mood for melody.
In the end, Primitive Race provides an excellent backdrop for Mosely to stretch his artistic muscles–for a singer who was initially only asked to contribute a couple of tracks, his sonic imprint is sizable and helps to underscore his increased output in the past few years. His talents are particularly notable on Nothing to Behold, the album’s catchiest and most anthemic track that would be radio ready if modern music wasn’t a slave to pop music.
Soul Pretendermarks a promising new chapter for Primitive Race, and Mosely and Crover’s contributions are a key in their musical revolution. While the lineup could change completely for their follow-up, one hopes this iteration continues to see what other heights they could reach.
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