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Surf’s Up: Primitive Knot’s “Touch Me Not”

primitive knot

At the end of Primitive Knot’s first song on their newest record Touch Me Not — out via Solar Asceticists Productions — a collusion of noise and feedback blends with the mystical crashing of ocean waves. It’s a fitting introduction to the album, because Primitive Knot is black surf-metal, and they create songs that swim and float within dreams. Unlike most of the blackened post-metal out there, this solo project incorporates a strong sense of individualism in its music, a trait that was also critical to the first and second waves of black metal.

Touch Me Not is a refreshing mixture of post-punk and 1970s psych-rock. There’s Killing Joke stuff in there, and also grim Darkthrone layers. The album cover is blue like the ocean, and when you listen in you can really feel the riptide. Picture a skeleton surfing a long wave. The fusion of lo-fi dungeon riffing comes away recycled and real, the prevalence of art rock divides each outburst into echoes and vibrations. There’s an openness to the darkness.

The ocean, like the ancient woods that Mayhem and Enslaved rose from, is a fitting angle for black metal today. I’m not sure Primitive Knot had water in mind, but their music feels very aquatic. Which is to say, fresh. And black metal to me, seems completely fixed these days. The trendy fusion of progressive and post metal layers to the form isn’t the best fit. It’s a bore, mostly. Black metal’s direct confrontation gets lost in the sulking abyss. Punk rock, and its offspring post punk, is a more fitting injection.

Primitive Knot is not progressive metal. And thank god. It’s punk rock-black metal, black surf-metal. A sound propulsive and inspiring: small enough for bedroom dreams, and large enough for ocean expansion. Pick this up and hit the beach.

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