New Band Of The Week: Primal Rite

Primal Rite
Primal Rite

Sounds Like: Much like Power Trip, a tour of all the things that ever made you fall in love with fast, brutally heavy music. 

For Fans Of: Integrity, Power Trip, Cro-Mags

Listen To: Antivenom

Buy Dirge Of Escapism from Amazon

For many years now, the metal scene has been talked up as a place where we can move freely whatever our political, religious or sexual persuasion and where racial boundaries don’t exist, but it’s taken a while to reach a point where any level of real multiculturalism in the metal scene is truly evident. In 2018, there are more signs than ever that boundaries are coming down, and that people are being given the space to be themselves.

“I used to go to shows and act a certain way because I felt that that was what was expected of me,” says Lucy Xavier, vocalist of savage Bay Area hardcore crew Primal Rite. “I thought that because this music is aggressive, I had to be this aggressive badass. But when I came to terms with who I was – I’ve only been living as a female for a few years – I was able to look at the scene and feel more accepted and more part of it. Because I accepted myself. I don’t think you can really be happy until you do that. Our scene is about reality, and you need to find that in yourself and that’s when you’ll become accepted.”

Lucy is one of a growing number of openly LGBT figures with voices that are becoming more prominent in our world. When asked whether she predicts a time when her presence is the ‘norm’, she’s typically philosophical and thoughtful about it.

“I see these struggles as the struggle of the time,” she shrugs. “Is race and racism still a problem? Absolutely. It’s gotten better – when I think of the struggles my grandparents’ generation had, fighting for a voice for different minority groups, it’s not the same now – but it never quite goes away. I look at my situation, and people’s attitudes to the transgender community now, as that; I’m doing what the civil rights movement had to do 50 years ago. These are the situations that need to be dealt with today. And it’s great that I can have a voice here, when you consider the [transgender-centred US legislation] bathroom bill, and the still-prevailing attitude to my community, I’m happy to be able to voice that.”

Despite all this, Lucy is loathe to be portrayed as a leader in any progressive moment. She says she’s just doing her bit.

“I’m just trying to tell things from my perspective: that of a queer, Asian hardcore fan, about the world as I see it. And hopefully give people a different voice and open up a new dialogue.”

As far as intentions for forming a band go, Lucy has a compelling one. It helps that Primal Rite’s debut album, Dirge Of Escapism, a stunning marriage of bowel-loosening heavy riffs and unstoppable pace, is the perfect soundtrack to her thoughts and concerns from a view that hasn’t always been articulated in metal.

“I always felt that a lot of the bands I loved were so super-honest and so real,” she continues, “that sometimes the words they speak could be too obtuse to truly understand. Like, they were so angry you could only feel that true anger, but not direct it. I want to give something that was… maybe… a little more thoughtful.”

It’s great to find a band that are trying to change the perceptions of the scene they find themselves in, and Primal Rite are set to do that and then some. Most casual observers would consider Dirge Of Escapism to be fuelled by crossover thrash, but drummer Jeremy tells us they don’t see themselves part of that scene at all.

“If anything, this record was far more inspired by early death metal,” he insists. “There is also a heap of Obituary in there, but we’ve also mixed that sludge-heavy metallic sound with the pace of punk. We’re much more than a crossover band.”

While they may disagree on a few key ingredients, one thing the band members agree on is the fact that they have a strong affinity with the modern hardcore scene. When the hardcore utopia arrives, will Primal Rite be on the forefront of the revolution? Code Orange’s Grammy nomination gives everyone hope, right?

“We just want to make music that we love, and express ourselves in the way that we see fit,” explains Lucy. “If it becomes bigger… well, those people are going to have to come to us, because we’re not going to come to them.”

Those people might be heading their way a lot sooner than they think...

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.