Album Review: Asphalt Graves’ The New Primitive
When scene guru Jason Netherton (Misery Index, ex-Dying Fetus, and author of scene tome Extremity Retained) attaches himself to a death/grind project, people notice. The remainder of Asphalt Graves – including drummer Shannon Lucas and guitarists Adam Faris and Brent Purgason – gather various interesting pedigrees, ranging from GWAR to The Black Dahlia Murder, but all did stints in Richmond, VA death dealers War Torn. It’s not clear that any of the above information has any bearing on the way Asphalt Graves’ debut The New Primitive sounds, but hey, the record’s not even 25 minutes long, and we already said “death/grind” and “Jason Netherton,” so we’re not really sure why you’re still reading.
The New Primitive is expectedly violent, whether you’re focused on percussion (fast and punchy), guitar riffing (sick tones locked into rabid fret hatred) or vocals (Netherton’s hoarse roar conveys pent-up disgust and always earns its place in the mix). That said, given the record’s brevity and personnel, it’s easy to assume a single blazing tempo through every second. Not so. Yes, speed is an integral part of Asphalt Graves’ attack, but the death grooves that insinuate themselves in these songs add power and possibly enjoyment potential. Sure, this is a familiar-sounding record (Disrupt and Nasum covers, anyone?), and it’s not clear that there’s anything going on here that you couldn’t get from the absurd number of bands making this kind of music available today, but The New Primitive is competently engaging for its full runtime, and sometimes that’s all you need. This is an album that values grit over flash, tunneling viciously straight through your gray matter rather than firing off into other dimensions of heavy. Clean leads? Solos? Tonal variation? Nope, nope and nope. It’s one of those piss-off-the-neighbors record rather than any kind of intricate study of the boundaries of the style.
There is zero difference in quality between the shorter tracks and the longer. This is a curious album that perhaps targets lovers of death metal who struggle to pay attention to longer songs (especially in this age of death metal as an avenue of innerspace revelation), though AG may alternately be targeting grind freaks with a willingness to stretch out a little and enjoy the blastbeaten moment. Verdict: It’s worth a few spins, but it’s unlikely to replace anything in your current (or future) rotation.