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The Primevals – Heavy War (Beast Records)

Howlin’ Whippet walks a dark road, filled with the corpses of the weak and the tears of the righteous. Keeping him company is the new album by the Glasgow institution.

I first encountered The Primevals way back in 1983. Singer Michael Rooney had a record stall in a market in the then undeveloped Merchant City. I’d seen him around, at gigs, in the streets and often wondered who this uber-cool stick insect was.

Starting a nervous conversation with him, (I would have been 19,) he immediately came across as a friendly and extremely switched-on encyclopaedia of underground rock. He sold me a copy of his band’s debut 7” single Where Are you and I was hooked.

Over the years, they briefly toyed with the mainstream, but always seemed happier ploughing their own demented furrow of scuzzy, fuzzy, bluesy garage rock.

After a lengthy absence, The Primevals re-emerged in 2010 with Disinhibitor, a scorching return to form.

New album Heavy War continues the trend.

Imagine a parallel universe where the X Factor judges were David Johansen, Sky Saxon and  Arthur Lee; President of the USA is Dee Dee Ramone and Primark only sold leather strides and Cuban heel boots and you’d be somewhere close to Primeval-world.

Opening salvo Way Beyond Tore Up sets the tone for what follows; snarling guitars, winding slide and Rooney’s carnivorous howl served with a side dish of drug-induced psychosis.

The trademark Primevals sound of bourbon-soaked blues is sidelined in favour of a more straight-ahead garage rock, courtesy of returning guitar-slinger Tom Rafferty. High Risk Time fairly steams along with suicidal intent and all the better for it.

Predilection For The Blues opens with a Bo Diddley swing before the ghost of Gun Club mainman Jeffrey Lee Pierce is summoned by Rooney’s murderous croon. Slide guitar from Rafferty echoes Rooney’s preacher man declaiming.

Don’t Be Afraid To Cry is a swampy, sleazy blues with a slinky, serpentine bass line from John Honeyman that recalls the souks of Morocco as closely as the streets of riot- torn 60’s Detroit.

The Lure Of Desire is heralded by gorgeous Hammond organ from Martin Rodgers and recalls the wilder moments of The Seeds and The Standells.  Rooney’s lyrics are part braggadocio, part desperation and lend the song a real tension.

The title track is a five and a bit minute freak out with crazed Pharaoh Sanders-style sax squalls and feedbacking, distorted guitars leading the melody. It’s a trip into a lysergic nightmare that The Doors would be proud to call their own.

The Primevals, declaring Heavy War on insipid music worldwide.

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