India’s death metal scene may not be as booming as its tech sector, but the quality is not in doubt. Like Moral Collapse and Dead Exaltation, the quartet that make up Bengaluru’s Prime Rage are masters of their instruments and willing experimenters. Yet things are not quite what they seem underneath the heavy riffs and disjointed rhythms. Are they playing tech death, prog metal or brutal death metal (BDM)?
The technical death metal scene might be approaching the point of saturation, but nobody told Prime Rage. You’ll find no shredding Gameboy solos or fretless bass noodling here. Nor do they add in the emotionless growls at the end when each of their virtuoso musicians have had the chance to show off their instruments. The eerie background noise of ‘Wail of Mystics’ imagines the pain of agonising souls trapped in purgatory. It’s less than two minutes in length and no more than an intro for ‘The Art of Decaying’, but it gives you an idea of the band’s unorthodox approach. When they gear up, they go hard but reckless. Sludgy drop-tuned grooves give way to slithery tremolo riffs, yet the hand of Chuck Schuldiner is never far away from the playing technique.
The bass strings are low and loose on this EP, like Luc Lemay of Gorguts putting his amp through impossible frequencies. Morbid rhythms and alternating tempos are the preference over break-neck speed, although the possibility the vocals might embrace the disturbing pig squeal range keep it anchored in BDM. ‘Discectomy of a Man-Made God’ is a case in point. The wretched mood hanging over the off-kilter grooves will agitate you, but in an intriguing way like the latest Sanguisugabogg album. Listen to the effortless modulations in the title track – this is how you write tech death and keep the listener engaged. Those imaginative pocket grooves from the drummer are reminiscent of Jasper Barendregt of Dodecahedron and Dialogia.
Defining that unique something that sets Prime Rage apart from their contemporaries is no easy task. It’ll remind you of the time you first heard Prong’s take on thrash metal with their 1990 major label debut. You know it’s thrash and that they belong in the same scene as Forbidden and Sacred Reich, but they sound unlike the others. The same goes for Prime Rage. Yes, you can hear Morbid Angel, Pestilence, and early Cynic, but they have something indefinable to their sound that defies categorisation. It’s subtle and weird at the same time. But what is it?
Closing track, ‘Incendiary Hallucinosis’, continues with the questions but offers no answers. This is the main appeal of Prime Rage. Impressive vocal roars and dry drum snares mix with chugging riffs and inhumane mouth noises. You begin to frown. That slimy guitar tone makes the band far more interesting than your standard BDM artist.
Clearly, Prime Rage are on the cusp of something new with Desecrated Faith. They have yet to define their sound or understand it with all their might, but their brand of death metal is already in an advanced stage of evolution. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they produce a full-length record, but for now we have a captivating EP.
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: The Art of Decaying, Desecrated Faith
Suggested Further Listening: Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (2017), Gorguts – Obscura (1998), Sanguisugabogg – Tortured Whole (2021)