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Normally when I review unsigned bands, I give them one automatic Perplex skull right off the bat. I've been around garage bands long enough to know when a band is trying to be the best they can with the tools they have. Often those instruments came from pawn shops; rebuilt from a busted guitar; a skin that has been screwed to the drum for too long or even repaired with duct tape; a microphone bought at RadioShack. I appreciate the fact that, when these bands finally get up the money to go into a recording studio, they get an Earl Schieb recording with default mixing and precious little studio time that evaporates all too quickly. No ups and no extras.
Been there, done that, got nothing to show for it.
But now I'm reviewing PRIMEVAL and their disc SCORN OF INCUBUS. The guy down at my local metal shop tells me that the music was recorded in 1997. It wasn't until 1998 that it got burned on disk. For reasons still unknown, it wasn't until 2000 that Lead Guitarist Victor Fernandez was able to go around to the various indie record stores and ask that they sell his disk on consignment.
So a skull for determination, right? But determination don't carry the music and lots of so-called musicians have been determined to put out crap.
But I've heard this disk and I ain't giving them that automatic extra skull. They don't deserve it and I'll tell you why:
They are just too damn good!
I had all my forgiving gears all locked into place when I put this into the player. But the sound is crystal and beautiful. The snares sound more like tom-toms with a ratta-tat machine gun rhythm, but the drums are for real and not some crappy drum machine twiddling at high speed in the background. Blame Drummer Rudy Delgado for his brilliant and creative drumwork. You ain't gonna find THAT in no Casio!
Victor Fernandez and John Quiroz perform on guitar and weave a pattern of Metal music that is somewhere between Old School EXODUS and Goth in the tradition of CHRISTIAN DEATH.
Juan Fernandez backs up Rudy by supplying heart thumping bass to the whole set and, even without keyboards (featured on two of the songs courtesy of John Ellis) play in a manner that is Metal, Goth, and Techno, without coming apart in an unbalanced mess. Or worse, dividing each some up into its individual parts of Goth here, Metal over there, Techno when we can squeeze it in.
I'm telling ya, these guys are master musicians!
Part of the reason they come through so well is due to Texas Music Studios where the album was recorded and mixed by PRIMEVAL and Mike Q. McDevit.
This album grabbed me from the start. I have never in my life heard a local, made on the cheap band sound so good. PRIMEVAL can't even afford a jewel case for their CD. It comes in the bottom of the barrel Budget Musicians package offered by local CD burning companies, which consists of a plastic sleeve reminiscent of sandwich bags. The CD slipcover is heavy grade copying paper with black print on both sides. Amigos, we are talking CHEAP!
But the music! The music just kicks my ass and I'm not hyping!
Driving in my car, sitting through tracks like "Lord Of Illusions" with John Ellis opening organ music, setting the tone for the whole album, on through "Consumed", "The Puritan", and the title track, I was just stunned! I drove right past my destination, not wanting to stop until the disk was done.
Vocals are supplied by John Benavidas who also wrote or co-wrote most of the songs. His cookie monster voice is incomprehensible, yet fluid enough to accent the music. His vocals are not the lyrical counterpoint to the instruments, but another instrument added to the whole. As such, he does it way better than many of the other CANNIBAL CORPSE / MARDUK wannabees.
Let me put in an aside right here, because the following info is courtesy of an organization called THE TEXAS DEATH SYNDICATE and from everything I've heard so far, this is as cool an organization as a Death Metal band could have. Thanks to Texas Death Metal Syndicate, PRIMEVAL now has a small but fixed voice on the internet and a place for visitors to go and buy their music. TDMS has found a way to help or back many Metal bands across the state, and with a place as big and populated as Texas, that's no mean feat!
The title song "Scorn Of Incubus" was written by Omar Fernandez. Omar was a drummer for the Techno-Thrash Metal band RELAYER with his brother Victor (and later the drummer for PRIMEVAL) and a recording of one of their songs from 1980-1985 is included as a bonus track. Coming home from a SLAYER concert in 1995, Victor, Omar, and Mario were involved in a car accident that left Omar and Mario dead and Victor in a coma. Victor has since recovered and reformed the band, dedicating this album to his brothers.
I am in awe of just how good this disk is. Because of that, I am not giving this band an extra skull automatically. This band is too good to be ignored, and yet, I would not want to overhype them (I hate hype! GRRR! I hate it!) STILL, somebody clearly needs to put out the call because this band, who has been scraping by for who knows how long, stands shoulder to shoulder with the best in their field. So if you are the kind who just loves finding hard hitting Metal in its pure and raw state (before the Music Industry analysts decide what should and should not go on the album, according to demographics), then get PRIMEVAL: SCORN OF INCUBUS and enjoy the kick. And that's no hype.
4 Hard earned, hard won Perplex Skulls.
This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.