"Introduction To Mayhem" (Island/Def Jam; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Introduction To Mayhem," Primer 55's major label debut, is not radically different from their self-produced CD from 1998. However, better production, guest musicians, and a handful of new songs makes "Introduction To Mayhem" a more satisfying release.

Primer 55 could be loosely grouped into the burgeoning rap-metal scene; however, the term rap-metal would be doing Primer 55 an injustice - hip-hop and hardcore is more like it. The hip-hop aspects of "Introduction To Mayhem" are delivery related and do not deal with the lyrical topics typically found on hip-hop CDs. Musically, the hardcore leanings far outweigh the metal flavors. Fear not, there is enough metallic fire on "Introduction To Mayhem" to make fans of the new school of rap-metal take notice that there's a new player in town.

Improved production plays a big part in the consistency of "Introduction To Mayhem." Clean and solid production is immediately obvious on "Stain," "Violence," and "The Big F*** You" and makes the tracks more enjoyable. Songs like "Loose," "Tripinthehead," and "Supa Freak Love" I already liked and I'm equally impressed the new go-around, too.

The newly recorded songs have dropped a bit of the pretentiousness that I complained about previously. New tracks like "Introduction To Mayhem" and "Set It Off" are purer in energy and achieve an exciting element missing on their last release. Even "Pigs," "Dose," and "Hate" sound more urgent than anything they've done before. Hell, " Introduction To Mayhem" is a lot better than I've heard from Limp Bizkit, Reveille, or Korn lately!

Lyrically, Primer 55 are not on the outside looking in; Primer 55 are smack dab in the middle of an urban battlefield. Primer 55 are not strangers to inner-city dangers, yet somehow emerge with their sense of resolve intact.

New (and better, I might add) songs, re-recording, and spruced up production has bolstered the overall package and as a consequence has earned an additional half-chainsaw for a full three chainsaws. Nice improvement from these battle-tested men from Memphis, Tennessee (not Lexington, Kentucky as I'd previously thought).

"Introduction To Mayhem" was produced, recorded, and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Shootyz Groove) and Tom Salta (Junior Vasquez) with a co-production credit going to Bobby Burns.

Primer 55 is J-Sin on vocals, Bobby Burns on guitars and backing vocals, Jr. on bass, and Josh McLane on drums. Guest artists include DJ Chris Kilmore of Incubus, M.C.U.D. Underdog of (hed)pe, and Mark Harrington.

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"Primer 55" (Propellant Transmissions)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Primer 55 is a band from Lexington, Kentucky that has managed to impress many people early in their career. The band is due to have a major label release from Island/Def Jam sometime in 2000.

Primer 55 is yet another band in the growing rap-metal genre. Personally, I am a little tired of the burgeoning litany of post-Korn bands pretending to cut new gems from this energetic, yet overused style. However, one thing that Primer 55 can do better than most bands I've heard in this genre is the appropriate use of true hip-hop vocals amid the blasting guitars and beats. It almost makes the band stand out amongst the whole flock of Korn wannabes.

The first track, "Loose," is a decent track; this track also appears on a compilation album for the WCW along with artists such as Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Insane Clown Posse, and Megadeth - that's pretty good company. However, Primer 55 is at their best when they allow the songs to breathe. "Tripinthehead" is a great example of the band's ability to combine pile-driving riffs with modern touches of today's metal. "Supa Freak Love" is also a rockin' blast of energy. "Drive It," "Bullshit," and "Release" are powerhouse tracks where the music is vigorous and act like a counterattack to the lack of emotional release in today's music. Overall, there are times when the music seems a bit pretentious.

Unfortunately, a few tracks are derivative of the rap-metal scene. "Slip Away" trudges along and doesn't hit the mark. "Violence" is one-dimensional and lacks resonance. "G's" tries too hard to imitate the urban gangsta mentality.

The vocals are screamed too often for my taste, but J-Sin's vocal quality does share a lot in common with the style of Max Cavalera (Soulfly). Bobby's guitars are competent with dashes of metallic shards to spruce up the songs. Jr. and Fido provide a solid rhythm section.

I could easily plunk this record in the "trendy" bin; the effort is solid, yet suffers from sounding like many of the other post-Korn bands out there. Primer 55 will need to continue to develop some originality to legitimize its place in the musical spectrum. However, it's obvious that the sincerity of the band's emotions demonstrate that the band have enough life experiences to draw from to allow their work to develop.

"Primer 55" was produced, recorded, and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Shootyz Groove) and Tom Salta (Junior Vasquez).

Primer 55 is J-Sin on vocals, Bobby Burns on guitar and background vocals, Jr. on bass, and Josh "Fido" McClain on drums.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 18 Dec 2016 12:46:21 -0500 .