The Shadow Gallery
12 March 2012
by Tomas Doyle
You know when people say, “I was into that band back before everyone thought they were brilliant.” Well, now is your chance to be that guy, so don’t let yourself down. The Shadow Gallery by Primitive Weapons is one of the best heavy records you will hear in 2012.
It is a beast, a behemoth, a deliciously put together and quite brilliantly played collection of songs, every single one of which will happily blast your head off, shit down your neck and then send nasty photos of it doing stuff to your corpse to your nearest and dearest.
From the almost tribal drums that open ‘Good Hunting’ through to the mechanised rumble of closer ‘Black Funds’ there is a wonderfully atavistic, primal quality to The Shadow Gallery which makes it an intensely compelling listen.
Sandwiched in the middle of these powerful bookends we are treated to innumerable highlights including (but far from limited to) the monumental swing of ‘Quitters Anthem’ – all disconcerting vocal refrain and gnarly, balls-out riffs – and ‘Big Chief’, a song that, frankly, you could imagine filling very, very big rooms to explosive effect. The knotty atmospherics build into discordant peaks which occasionally find melodious climaxes but are equally unafraid to slap you in face with a big wall of dense, hypnotic noise.
A special mention should be made of the production, which serves up a brilliantly dynamic mix throughout – from decayed bass sounds and shimmering guitar to vocals which sometimes provide broad, almost hallucinogenic, brush-strokes of rage but often crystallise into piercing centrepieces of both the sung and screamed variety.
Much as it is cliché to say that a CD will “reward repeat listens”, it is hard to think of a record which personifies this quality as readily as The Shadow Gallery. It really is brilliantly constructed as well as being played with a depth and precision which its occasionally manic tone belies.
One of Primitive Weapons big strengths is that much as they may find a great deal of favour with those who identify themselves as fans of music at the heavier end of the spectrum. Tracks like the aforementioned ‘Quitters Anthem’ feel like they could be enjoyed by open-minded fans of music that is generally possessed of a less dark disposition.
It is the band’s capacity for finding twisted melody and eccentric, bizarre hooks (like the curious guitars in ‘Oath’) which sets this apart as one of the standout records of the year so far and will surely see it feature high in the 2012 Top 10s of those who are fortunate enough to hear it.
Everything about The Shadow Gallery is brilliantly conceived, brilliantly cathartic, brilliantly raging and just brilliantly brilliant. Don’t let yourself down. Be that guy.
Sounds like: Dillinger Escape Plan, Wolves Like Us, Brooklyn NYC
Standout tracks: Quitters Anthem, Oath, Or Do Ideas Have You