Forget about the music; Black Helium’s album art on Primitive Fuck is enough to send you into a bad acid flashback. The songs follow a similar path, treading the line between psychedelic and good-old Sabbathy doom. Seriously, if Black Sabbath had known how long lasting an impact their first three albums were going to have, they would have started their own record label and retired right then.
Any band looking to harness the Sabbath groove has to face one existential question. “What do we bring to the table?” Some bring almost nothing, but Black Helium are not one of those groups. Sure, their guitar tone might as well have Tony Iommi’s signature written across it in huge red letters, but the total lack of anything sinister in Primitive Fuck’s aesthetic helps things greatly. This is a bright, blissed out album, not a dirge. Try listening to “Love The Drugs” without wanting to don a silk cape and dance around a bonfire on psilocybin.
The big twist comes in with “Curtains At The Mausoleum.” This is the point when Black Helium descend into the Sixties rabbit hole. The 9-minute track floats you along with droning melodies and the ebb and flow, almost like those great California psychedelicists The Doors. I can’t remember the last time a song so simple held my attention for so long. Not one to miss out on, for sure. Being compared to The Doors in this genre is practically like being canonized.
There’s also a sense of tongue-in-cheek fun throughout Primitive Fuck, on the aforementioned “Love The Drugs” and “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight”. Black Helium are clearly self-aware, which is perfect. Nothing worse then a pretentious stoner band (and they do exist). Then again, Black Helium did give this album the title Primitive Fuck, so any sense of seriousness was a lost cause from the start. Probably for the best.
If there’s one piece of constructive criticism to consider, it would be adding in some more fast-paced songs. What Black Helium have is great, but a really punchy up-tempo songs á la Melvins or Kyuss would give Primitive Fuck the exact push it needs. Or go the other route, with some more 8-plus minute space sounds. Either way is good, and we can rest assured Black Helium will probably nail it. This is an incredibly encouraging thing to hear from a band just starting out in this crazy, crazy scene.