While I am certainly a fan of all sorts of extreme music, the latest sonic hellscape collaboration from Primitive Man and Full of Hell titled Suffocating Hallucination, hit me at just the right time. I am also currently reading David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, a non-fiction book discussing the world to come as climate change inevitably unfolds. This book and this record both revel in horrific extremities and when engaging with them I can feel the Apocalypse bearing down upon the world.
Primitive Man and Full of Hell are no strangers to horrific extremism. While the former specializes in slow-motion doom, the latter deals their damage with high velocities. Both drench their respective sounds in swathes of noise
The opener “Trepenation for Future Joys” starts off playing to Primitive Man’s strengths. Lumbering doom collides with cascades of noise like a great weight being shed and falling to the earth. While there’s a guitar riff in there somewhere it competes with the cacophony of noise to be heard. This is a fully immersive doom experience, one worth the harrowing journey.
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The first third of “Rubble Home” plays out like the aftermath of the previous song. The doom riff still crushes but it evokes more of a desolate atmosphere. Then things shift gears, the drums ripping an intense blast beat that levels everything in sight. When the song slows down again it sounds like treads rumbling across blackened earth.
Compared to the epic suffering of the first two tracks “Bludgeon” is the briefest of attacks. At just twenty-six seconds, it reinforces the jaw-dropping grind capabilities witnessed on “Rubble Home” and leaves nothing in its wake. It segues nicely into “Dwindling Will.” This is a purely electronic noise piece and relies more on an ominous atmosphere than the visceral assault of the rest of the album. And while it may prove a respite from the rest of the material, the soundscape still drips with palpable tension.
The monumental “Tunnels to God” closes out the record. It begins by pulling forward the ambiance of the previous song, a slow electronic pulse underlying drones that float like radioactive clouds above. When the band returns, epic doom is the name of the game. Yet a simple guitar melody rides over the top of destruction. There’s a sense of mourning to the proceedings, like watching the collapse of everything from a distance, physically safe from everything but not emotionally. Eventually, though, a deluge of noise overcomes everything so maybe the listener is not physically safe either.
Suffocating Hallucination is one of those records that makes me contemplate the meaning behind such music. I love it, but the things it leads me to consider are truly horrible. Whether it’s the destruction of the world’s ecosystems are some less grand narrative evoked by some death metal band singing about serial murder, why is this music so good? Perhaps as the world slips into an apocalyptic abyss, the answer will reveal itself. If we aren’t repulsed by the horror, then Suffocating Hallucination will surely be the soundtrack to the downfall.