Cooking Vinyl

Primitive Weapons

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From Brooklyn, New York, Primitive Weapons embodies that moment where hardcore opens its fists and embraces the grandeur of rock – where feral rage joins with melody and texture to transform into something even more enthralling. Fugazi did this in the late ’80s; in New York City it crystallized into a scene of its own in the early ’90s when veterans of the CBGB matinees began starting new bands – Helmet, Quicksand, Into Another – with the explicit intention of exploring a wider range of sound and feeling. Perhaps more than any other band, Sweden’s Refused came to represent this shift, bringing in elements from all over the musical map while retaining white-knuckle intensity. Primitive Weapons guitarist Arthur Shepherd was right there on that wave, starting in the ’90s with his Long Island-based hardcore band Mind Over Matter and advancing to World’s Fastest Car (with Quicksand’s Walter Schreifels), Errortype:11, and Instruction (with Quicksand’s Tom Capone). Rooted in hardcore, these latter bands made music that was simply epic, beyond the limits of a genre.

Primitive Weapons carries forth the tradition of this original post-hardcore spirit but does so in a thoroughly forward-charging way, bearing no shred of retro-glorification. Primitive Weapons is a modern-day beast, a hybrid of soaring wings and gnashing teeth. Sophomore album The Future of Death is an eight-song thrill ride, full of tribal thunder, hard grooves, dire screams, luminous guitars, and massive, mournful choruses that haunt for days.

The Future of Death was recorded and mixed by Dean Baltulonis (Madball, Modern Life Is War) at The Wild Arctic, and mastered by Dave Gardner (Black Lips, Rocket from the Crypt) at Magneto Mastering. The cover and layout were created by Zev Deans, who also directed the video for the album’s first single, “The Electric Drama,” as well as videos for Chelsea Wolfe, Ghost, and Portal.

Primitive Weapons was founded in Brooklyn in 2009 when Shepherd teamed up with drummer Chris Enriquez (ex-On the Might of Princes), bassist Eric Odness (ex-Chariots), and rookie vocalist David Castillo. The new band released a debut single, produced by Alex Newport (The Mars Volta, The Melvins), then signed with Prosthetic Records to release debut full-length The Shadow Gallery in 2011. A Pitchfork review compared The Shadow Gallery to Isis and Kylesa, while Alternative Press gave it these words: “Take Deadguy’s burly mid-tempo chaos, dice up the spaces between with tribal, Liars-esque drumbeats, creepy melodic passages, and a cacophony of swirling riffs…”

With Primitive Weapons launched, Shepherd and Castillo joined forces to open a small bar in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn: Saint Vitus Bar. Within a year, Saint Vitus was hailed as Brooklyn’s coolest new music venue and a destination for every metal and hardcore band that matters. In its first few years the tiny room hosted live performances by Nirvana, Descendents, Refused, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Earth, and so many more. As Saint Vitus’ popularity skyrocketed, Enriquez and Odness both opened Brooklyn bars of their own as well. Between the success of these bars and members’ other bands – Castillo founded metal machine White Widows Pact, Shepherd joined members of Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike in UnWed, and Odness toured the world with megastars The Wanted – Primitive Weapons faded from view.

Enter Party Smasher Inc CEO Ben Weinman, also known as the brains and guitar behind The Dillinger Escape Plan. Weinman brought Primitive Weapons out on a short tour with Dillinger in 2015 and, feeling deeply aligned with the band’s vision, signed on to release monstrous second album The Future of Death through his newly-formed, multi-faceted company, Party Smasher Inc. With kindred spirit Weinman on board, things have quickly come back into focus. Primitive Weapons enters 2016, re-centered, recharged and ready to roll with The Future of Death, an album equally rabid and majestic, owning that space where aggression, melody, and texture join to create something new and timelessly powerful.