Soul Pretender by Primitive Race

Release date: November 3, 2017
Label: Metropolis Records

Soul Pretender, the second album by supergroup Primitive Race, features Chuck Mosley and Melvins drummer Dale Crover. Producer, founder member and bassist Chris Kniker, who sang on the band’s first, self-titled, record, has moved over to let the former Faith No More singer loose on ten songs of energy and bombast. I’m one of a select – but, I suspect, not that small – group of FNM fans who see Chuck’s time in Faith No More as a distinct and important period in their history. To me it’s akin to FNM having Di’Anno/Dickinson- or Osbourne/Dio-type eras rather than Chuck’s tenure being just the bit that happened before the band really got going. Besides writing and singing the anthem that is ‘We Care a Lot’ Chuck’s two albums with the band reveal an understated brilliance. 1987’s Introduce Yourself in particular showcases both raw emotion and deranged hedonism on the part of the singer and for that it remains one of my favourite FNM albums. Time with the funk metal band Cement before a back injury in the 1990s preceded a quiet time for Chuck musically, and apart from solo effort VUA and occasional appearances with Faith No More on stage, this is the first we’ve heard for a while.

Previous Primitive Race material – the eponymous first album and an EP – reflected the combined DNA of the various members, sounding like an industrial tribute to the likes of KMFDM, Revolting Cocks, Skinny Puppy and anything put out on the Devotion label. This new album shows an evolution, perhaps partly shaped by new members, moving away from obvious industrial influences and more towards “something more fluid and punk”, in the words of Kniker himself.

Mosley’s trademark drawl makes itself obvious from the very start, with ‘Row House’, a melodic but rocky introduction to the album, featuring a big hook right in the middle. ‘Cry Out’ has a similarly catchy riff that keeps the momentum going. Highlight ‘Cranial Matter’ has a punchy edge that rumbles along like the early Faith No More that Chuck sang on. His unique ability to roll up the words of a song and just bowl them along, creating rhythm and momentum as he goes, still mesmerises me. This rocky, easy-going vein is kept going with the likes of ‘Take It All’ and ‘Bed Six’. There’s some variation mid-album, with the introspective ‘Stepping Stone’ hinting at some of the delicate, raw, emotional material on Introduce Yourself without committing itself fully. Title track ‘Soul Pretender’ doesn’t quite get off the ground for me and the bombast of the first half of the album isn’t recovered, with the chugging ‘Turn It Up’ and closer ‘Dancing On The Sun’ adding a more sombre tone.

Soul Pretender is not an album to be taken too seriously, and the good-time feel of the first half really pulled me in. It’s great to hear Chuck’s vocals again on new material and his work will always have a place in my heart. Whether the album hangs together as a complete whole will be down for the listener to decide. Worth cranking up and partying to.

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