Heavy War - Primevals (Twenty Stone Blatt)
By the time you reach the chorus off opening song "Way Beyond Tore Up" you'll cross the line or stay on the other side. Primevals are Scotland's coolest band. They play irrepressible garage-blues rock and roll. There's no halfway point for them and neither should there be for you.
Well into their second life now (30 years and counting) and Primevals are at the top of their game. Younger bands take note. This is how the game's played. Primevals bounce from greasy blues ("Predilection for the Blues") to barreling rock with swirling keyboard twist ("The Lure of Desire") to brooding introspectiveness with psychedelic guitar trimmings ("Don't Be Afraid To Cry") in the space of a few songs.
The twin guitars of Tom Rafferty (back in the ranks) and Martyn Rodger lie at the heart of "Heavy War." Ironically considering the title, it's what they don't play that gives this record its character. They rub against each other, produce sparks, but never overdo it. They know when to pull back (the snarling "Hit the Peaks" is a good case in point) and Michael Rooney's occasionally Iggy-esque vocal occupy the middle ground, cajoling or commanding as the song dictates.
"High Risk Times" might sum up Primevals the best with its duelling guitars and tightly-wound rhythm. There's a triply edge to the outro as the band takes the song down the back road to Hell, burning excess baggage along the way.
This is Pretty Things R & B with a Detroit edge. Think The Hypnotics or the MC5, the latter without the same flash, throw in some Cramps and swampy blues. "Keep Coming Back" is the odd one out, a whimsical rock ballad with dissonant feedback built on an acoustic bedrock.
"Heavy War" is more of a grower than "Disinhibitor", the album that came before. Its charms only become apparent the more you listen. The grooves are lengthier, more drawn out. Closer "In a Violent Way" nails that - and more - over its five minutes, all sinewy guitars, "Fun House" alto sax and churning groove. Rooney repeatedly intones: "In a violent way…heavy war" as the song reaches its feedback conclusion. Which only leaves the question: Whose side are you on?