about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_primaryslave_anothermarkisdrawn001006.jpg
Now then, here's a name I never thought I'd ever see again, Primary Slave; at least not with a brand new album. I'm sure many of you reading this will be entirely unaware just exactly who they are so a brief word about their origins for the uninitiated. When guitarist Paul Allender parted company with Cradle of Filth after their debut release, 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh', he formed a band called, from memory, Lilith around 1998. Amongst the musicians he recruited to join him in this new venture was one Mark Giltrow on guitar and vocals, known from the marginal metal scene as frontman of underground stalwarts Cenobyte. Changing their name to Primary Slave, and making waves in the underground scene themselves, they were on the verge of signing a contract when Allender was asked to rejoin Cradle, an offer which he, of course, accepted. Continuing with Primary Slave, Mark drafted in his fellow axeman from Cenobyte, Lee Dunham, to fill the gap left by Allender. A deal with Visible Noise shortly followed which spawned the band's debut album, 'Data Plague'. Receiving ubiquitous glowing reviews from the press, including high praise and commendation from the likes of Kerrang and Terrorizer (as well as substantial full-page features in said mags), it appeared as if the foundations had been laid for Primary Slave to be the next big thing to emerge from the UK metal scene, particularly with Kerrang's assertion that - "It's been a while since Britain produced a genuine metal band of world class quality". For whatever reason, the widespread success that seemed a certainty eluded the lads and Primary Slave disappeared off the radar for some years. Roll on to 2006 and the sad news emerged that Mark had tragically died in a motorcycle accident at the age of just 31. However, during the last two years of his life, he'd been working on a follow up to 'Data Plague' with the band's drummer, Graham Lyons (aka G), and through sheer persistence, obstinacy and an utter refusal to quit in the face of a whole gamut of technical hurdles (including a failed hard drive that almost resulted in the entire album being lost), the songs were completed as a true labour of love to honour Mark's own commitment to his art and innovative musicianship. And here it is, the affectionately and aptly titled 'Another Mark is Drawn'.

I have to be entirely honest and state that upon receiving this disc and spinning it for the first time, my expectations were quite low given the circumstances and obstacle-ridden journey that was undertaken to arrive at a finished product. What little did I know for, upon my first listen, those low expectations were blown out of the fucking water...bigtime. I didn't expect little in terms of songwriting and musicianship as I was an admirer of the 'Data Plague' album upon its release and remember Mark from Cenobyte's early days so am entirely aware of his capabilities as both a musician and composer of forward thinking music. No, what I didn't expect was such a great sounding record. Horace Martin, producer of 'Data Plague', has done a remarkable job here along with Neale Dunham in rescuing and transforming Mark's final music into what, for me, actually sounds better than Primary Slave's debut. Don't get me wrong, it's not an ultra-polished production as there's a discernible rawness over some passages in certain songs, but that rawness actually adds a lot of character to the music, but with a genuine resonance and weight to each of the tracks. The drums, in particular, sound incredible. The mix is also quite astounding. So what of the actual music and songs? Well, apart from the great sound, the pièce de résistance of 'Another Mark is Drawn' is the generally high quality, innovative compositions and their execution. I won't attempt to classify this as it's largely unclassifiable. That's not to say we're talking anything wildly experimental or avant-garde, rather a series of modern metal tunes loaded with catchy hooks and melodiously emotional depth but with enough compositional inventiveness that eschews any standard, generic classification. And it's certainly a few notches above 'Data Plague' in terms of songwriting. Mark's vocals are also quite wonderful, a man who was in possession of a rather unique voice that's full of expressive ambivalence, always able to turn on the aggression or restraint at all the right moments and fully capable of vocalising his emotions through the lyrics he sings in a way that few singers can within the metal genre. 'Defiled' and 'Eye Feel Free' are perfect examples of this and his quasi-rap delivery over parts of opening track 'Powdered' brings to mind Machine Head's Rob Flynn on 'Desire to Fire', only far more sincere and succinct in execution (Flynn should never have "rapped"). The samples that adorn some songs cement Primary Slave's self-proclaimed "futuristic metal" label while also adding another layer of originality to the distorted and clean guitars (of which Lee and Neale Dunham contribute alongside Mark's playing). The programming is perhaps at its best on 'C.R.E.A.M.' (an acronym for "Corrupt Religious Elite Amoral Motherfuckers" for those who are curious). A word about the packaging too. The album's available to download from the Primary Slave website for a mere quid but for those who still favour hard over digital media then you're in for a treat as 'Another Mark is Drawn' comes packaged in a glossy digipak with an accompanying booklet containing lyrics, eulogies to Mark, and some nice photography on each page involving the same female model to illustrate each song's themes.

Whether you are new to Mark's music or are already aware of the man's work, I wholeheartedly recommend all metal fans check out this release, particularly if you strive to discover innovative music that transcends metal's stagnant subgenres but without resorting to over-experimentation in doing so. 'Another Mark is Drawn' really is quite astonishing on many different levels and a fitting farewell to a musician who would indubitably have found more widespread success in the scene at some point in his life had he not died so tragically at such a young age. RIP Mark and may your music live forever.
One Eyed Toad Records
Review by Mark Holmes
1) Powdered
2) Defiled
3) Eye Feel Free
4) Dead Ocean
5) The Game
6) C.R.E.A.M.
7) Cums a Round
8) Up Sailing
9) The Answer
10) The Time it Takes to Die
"...a series of modern metal tunes loaded with catchy hooks and melodiously emotional depth but with enough compositional inventiveness that eschews any standard, generic classification."