If Primer 55's debut, Introduction to Mayhem, proved to be something of a glorified demo (it was later picked up by Island-Def Jam, re-mixed, re-mastered, and re-released with a handful of bonus tracks), the band's sophomore release, The New Release shows the quartet taking a giant quantum leap forward. Differences between the two works are like night and day. Boasting a terrific production courtesy of hot up-and-coming New York producer Eddie Wohl, New Release is bursting with well-executed hard rock ditties that easily crush anything on the band's debut. In a clichéd rock & roll sense, and for all intensive purposes, this is a brand new band -- and one that has certainly found it niche. A wash of guitars, augmented by ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier's guesting behind the drum kit, give way to Jason's razor-blade gargling-like voice that wouldn't be out of place in any number of New York hardcore bands. Seamlessly, blending the classic hard rock sound of "This Life" with hints of the more commercial attack of "Texas" with the C.O.C/Helmet riffage of "Tricycle" (which features layers of sounds, including, of all things, bongos), it's clear that the band has no intention of being pigeon-held as just another run-of-the-mill blood and guts hard rock band. "Pills" showcases Primer's rhythmic approach, jumping from a hardcore type arrangement into a straight chorus that rewards the listener with each repeated listen. "Lou Evil" proves to be one of the album's more interesting novelty pieces. Sandwiched between horns and an arrangement that recalls some of Clutch's finer moments, Primer 55 shows that they're not afraid to experiment with different sounds and textures. Overall, a refreshing follow-up to an average debut, and hopefully one that garners the band a glut of new fans.
AllMusic Review by John Franck