Last week, Denver trio Primitive Man released their killer new EP Insurmountable on Closed Casket Activities, with four songs in nearly 30 minutes that trek through absurdly heavy doom/sludge, ominous ambient music, and an entirely reinvented cover of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Quiet." Now that the EP's been out for a few days, vocalist/guitarist Ethan McCarthy has given us a track-by-track breakdown of the whole thing, as well as some background the hurdles that the band had to overcome to even finish and release the record.

About the latter, he said, "Aside from having Arthur Rizk mix and master the full record that is out now and having Adam Tucker save the day on some things (keep reading), the whole process of recording this record was an absolute nightmare. Bullshit with double bookings, booster shots, deadlines to get one song over to Roadburn for their REDUX thing that year that we almost didn't meet because there were all sorts of issues with the engineer who captured the material. It almost ended up in us not having anything (terrible mixes and masters), and scrapping the material as a whole because of the bad blood between us and the original engineer of whom has credit in the liner notes but isn't worth mentioning by name anywhere else. So you know, I am insane enough to scrap a recording because of issues with an engineer but some other folks thought otherwise. This was a difficult thing and is also very uncharted territory with us as we have wonderful relationships with everyone else we've ever recorded with for all the other 14 releases we've done (Insurmountable is EP #2 but release number 15). Ultimately we pushed through by having the amazing Adam Tucker mix/master one of the tracks with a less than 12 hour turnaround that we originally went into the studio to record as a commissioned piece for Roadburn Festival ('Cage Intimacy'). The rest is just material that we were working on in order to stay busy during peak pandemic that was recorded at the same time."

Read on for the track-by-track...

"This Life"

I fell out with some friends, and lost my father, my dog, cousin, uncle and one of my brothers during the beginning part of the pandemic. On top of everything else. So this song is about how living an authentic life will bring you to your goddamn knees. The regular person's every day fear of the grave, the jail cell, or the gutter. How as a man you just have to swallow that shit. About how it makes you hateful and guarded. But take that idea and add the collective suffering a lot of people were feeling at this time to it. It still sounds like Primitive Man to me but I feel like we tapped into something a bit different with this one. More dynamic? It feels like we stretched out a bit. I don't know. I do know that the spirit behind it carries a ton of weight and i'm not sure if we will/how often we will ever perform this live. This is song is special to me sonically and in its lyrical content.


Another collaborative ambient noise soundscape between me and my friends. Designed as a focusing device-thus the absence of harsh frequencies on this one which is out of the ordinary for us. Imagine staring into a large boiling pot of water with a candle on either side and a mirror behind it repeating the phrase "the total destruction of my enemies through sound and the preservation of my loved ones through vision" as an effort to manifest a complete and total psychic attack.

"Cage Intimacy"

After releasing this song for Roadburn we had (total wizard) Arthur Rizk mix and master the album as a whole including a newly mixed/mastered version of "Cage Intimacy" that most people are familiar with now. I really liked Adam's version however and I might release it someday just for fun. This is about the type of person who's M.O. is to be "too familiar too quick." They love bomb and compliment you, try to force this friendship and it's usually for their own personal gain and not because they truly care about or even KNOW you intimately. They'll suck you dry and if you don't let them, they will paint YOU as the asshole. Saw a lot of this during the "everyone inside" stage of the pandemic and I see a lot of it in the music industry. Pathetic.


Written by Mr William Corgan. We covered it because why not? Also because all three of us LOVE the Smashing Pumpkins. Super fun to push our style onto a song like this. I hope they hear it, but I bet they won't. Billy, are you listening up there to anyone at all?


Pick up a vinyl copy here. Primitive Man are also currently on their 10th anniversary tour with Mortiferum, Jarhead Fertilizer, Body Void, and Elizabeth Colour Wheel. That tour comes to NYC for a show where that entire lineup opens for Swedish doom legends Candlemass at Le Poisson Rouge on June 8.

Primitive Man -- 2022 Tour Dates
w/ Mortiferum, Jarhead Fertilizer, Body Void & Elizabeth Colour Wheel
5/17 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
5/18 Memphis, TN @ Growlers
5/19 Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR
5/20 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
5/21 Orlando, FL @ Will's Pub
5/23 Savannah, GA @ Lodge of Sorrow
5/24 Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
5/25 Raleigh, NC @ The Pour House
5/26 Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Deathfest ≠
5/28 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
5/29 Albany, NY @ Empire Underground
5/30 Winooski, VT Monkey House
6/02 New Haven, CT @ State House
6/03 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
6/04 Portland, ME @ The Space
6/05 Quebec City, QC @ L'Anti
6/06 Montréal, QC @ Les Foufounes Électriques
6/08 New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge w/ Candlemass
6/10 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop *
6/11 Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck*
6/12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Funhouse
6/13 Columbus, OH @ Big Room Bar
6/14 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
6/15 Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
6/16 Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewing Co.
6/17 Chicago, IL @ Reggies
6/18 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
6/19 St Paul, MN @ Turf Club
6/21 Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
6/22 Winnipeg, MB @ Park Threatre
6/24 Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
6/27 Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw
6/28 Bellingham, WA @ Shakedown
6/29 Seattle, WA @ Substation

w/Jarhead Fertilizer, Body Void, Elizabeth Colour Wheel & Spirit Possession
7/05 Portland, OR @ Dante's
7/07 Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
7/08 Los Angeles, CA @ Catch One
7/09 Costa Mesa, CA @ The Wayfarer
7/10 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
7/12 Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar
7/13 Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
7/14 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar

8/19-21 Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

∞ = Primitive Man only
≠=Primitive Man & Mortiferum only
*= no Jarhead Fertilizer

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