Primal Rival Release Blistering New Single ‘Faceless’ – (N Irish Grunge)

Primal Rival live up to their name on new single ‘Faceless’, a visceral release that is all crashing drums, foundation shaking bass and speaker shredding overdriven guitar. All given voice to by Kevin Donnelly’s disaffected, emotionally-wrought vocals that come straight out of the Pacific Northwest via Northern Ireland and Glasgow. Their poppy but riff-heavy grunge’n’roll provides enough thump for the whiplashed rockers and enough earworm melodies for those who prefer to stay out of the pit  and sing in the back. Returning after a recent line up change ‘Faceless’ marks Primal Rival’s return with considerable aplomb.

Forced into our homes for the duration of the pandemic, this difficult period of time did give time for the gestation and exploration of a range of new musical ideas. This was true of Kevin Donnelly, having absconded his home in Northern Ireland to Glasgow provided the impetus to forge a new sound and a clean slate to start afresh. Moving away from his previous role as a bass player, Kevin began started writing and recording ideas for a solo project, tentatively sharing these on Soundcloud they were met with an overwhelming response. Bolstered by this response it led to the recording of the ‘Sundaze’ EP, with Kevin recording and playing everything bar drums on the tracks. This autonomy and DIY approach is at the centre of Primal Rival, never having to ask anyone’s permission or wait for the tap on the shoulder to release music. It allows Kevin, joined by new lineup that includes Ross Smith on drums and Cameron Smith on bass, to work and release music on their time.

Faceless’ was written in one sitting, almost as if an unseen hand guided Kevin’s to the chords and lyrics that make up the song. Tracks that are ‘given’ like this often give a subconscious insight into a writer’s state of mind. Written during a particularly complicated and bleak period the track speaks of a feeling of listlessness, spiralling without direction while dealing with themes of mental health and addiction. Kevin offers up that he hopes by tackling taking these difficult and dark feelings in the track that other might relate and find solace in the lyrics. The track explodes out of the speakers as cymbals wince and drum heads are pushed to their limit by Ross. Utilising the classic Pixies loud/quiet/loud approach gives space for Kevin’s vocals in the verses, that have a distinct Jerry Cantrell flavour to them, especially when the added harmonies join. A barrage of toms alongside a jet plane phaser take us into the chorus, stomping on the overdrive pedal and hearing Kevin exorcise personal demons proves a cathartic experience, while Cameron lays down some intricate bass lines to help drive the part forward.

To help bring the track to life bass and drums were recorded at Carlton Studios in Glasgow, while in keeping with the bands DIY approach, Kevin recorded his vocals and guitar in his home. Allowing him to delve into the vocals and deliver the performance heard on the track. Ross also handled mixing and mastering duties on the track, helping ensure that the energy and intent wasn’t lost in the final stages.

Following a number of line up changes the band have now crystallised into the sleek and mean three piece on ‘Faceless’. Delivering a sound that simultaneously drips in 90’s plaid but remains fresh and contemporary. The fierce DIY spirit that drives the band forward is a testament to the belief the band have in their work. ‘Faceless’ extends a hand and invites you to come along for the ride with Primal Rival, be sure to buckle up.

You can catch them live at their single launch show at Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow Feb 16th