Review Summary: Hard wired Primal Scream.
After taking another sharp turn at the end of the century, Primal Scream released XTRMNTR
, an album proved to be another stand out in the band's career. They once again raised the standards really high and as a result the follow-up was eagerly sought after by fans and newcomers alike.
While Evil Heat
isn't a weak record, again marking slight changes in sound, it feels a bit rushed, trying to reach different directions with mixed results at times. Of course, there are some infectious tracks, but when XTRMNTR
was tightly knit and right to the point, Evil Heat
sounds rather disjointed. This time, the aggressive industrial tinged sound is pushed into the background, Primal Scream bringing some of the acid house influences back into the mix, along with a few other tricks. These two together along with some garage rock outings, offer a dark, delusional affair that's typical for the band.
From the beginning, the listener is thrown in the middle of the Primal Scream universe through "Deep Hit Of Morning Sun", which might be one of the band's most twisted tracks yet. Featuring distorted synths, delayed guitars and haunting vocals, "Deep Hit Of Morning Sun" slowly crawls, like a hungover drug addict. Even more, the hypnotic, Krautrock inspired "Autobahn 66" and the evil, mechanical blues of "The Lord Is My Shotgun" add to the fuzzy, sometimes uneasy atmosphere that surrounds Evil Heat
. Also, Robert Plant guests on it adding some harmonica leads that translate very well into the context of this odd, futuristic Americana jam. "Autobahn 66"'s dreamy feel heavily contrasts the latter's feedback drenched finale, but they show how the band can work on different fields with ease.
Unfortunately, the record doesn't end up as a masterpiece, mainly because lead singer Bobbie Gillespie ruins some songs by adding inappropriate lyrics that feel dumb or childish at best. From "Rise"'s non-sense "Sweet sixteen dehumanized, deaths head factory suicide" to the cheap goth thrills: "Skinny girl, dressed in black, leather boots, nazi hat" on the aggressive "Miss Lucifer", Gillespie's paranoid, dystopian views on politics and kitschy shock rants really feel lacking throughout the whole record. He rarely has something memorable to say, but unlike on XTRMNTR
where he kept his vocal contributions to shorter statements, his vocals are more prominent on Evil Heat
. This is such a shame since the rest of the band's performance (again featuring semi-permanent member Kevin Shields) is top notch. They add some great, diverse hooks, from the retro dance "Detroit" to noisy garage rock outings such as "Skull X" or "City". They also manage to give tracks a different touch, often switching from a guitar oriented sound to a predominant mechanized, electronic feel. Even the "Some Velvet Morning" cover bears a cool instrumental, but the duet between Gillespie and Kate Moss feels a bit flat. The eerie, whispered vocals give the track a nice twist, however, with no change whatsoever in vocal delivery, everything gets rather dull until the end.
In the end, Evil Heat
, even though it's essentially a crossover between their two best records yet (Screamadelica
) with various new tweaks, it doesn't have the same impact as those had, simply because it wears thin in comparison. On the first few listens, it sounds interesting and really catchy at times, but it runs out of steam faster than it should. Nevertheless, Evil Heat
is an important addition to Primal Scream's expansive discography as it further shows the band is capable to create something new all the time, keeping their chameleonic characteristic intact.