Primordial – 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'

SOMEWHERE in the mists, amidst the mythology; where time stands frozen; and, where music faces the darkness in defiance, PRIMORDIAL have been growing their dark tales with a passion and persistence that has reached a peak on their latest release, ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’.

The success of  ‘To The Nameless Dead’ and 2011’s ‘Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand’ means that ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ was always going to have to elevate the sound of the band to a higher plain of existential extreme pagan metal. And, that is exactly what they have done.

From the eight minute plus title track to the epic closer ‘Wield Lightning To Split The Sun’ this is a presentation of eight minutes of unadulterated Primordial at their best, as Gomez’s production combines an intensity of sound and a perfect balance for each track to breathe.

‘Babel’s Tower’ is the perfect example of this, as Alan Averill (a.k.a. Nemtheanga) wails in anguish, while Ciaran MacUiliam and Michael O’Floinn weave heavy riffs around the slow, heavy rhythms of Paul MacAmlaigh  (bass) and Simon O’Laoghaire (drums). At about the five and half minute mark there is almost a pause in the incessant riffing before Averill roars over a solo that emerges in a flurry of power and melancholy to bring the eight minutes to a coda as the riffs slow down from their earlier incessant pace.

This is not an album packed with catchy bursts (the shortest track – The Seed of Tyrants – clocks in at five and half minutes). It is instead Primordial at their mesmerising best.

Nor, is it an album filled with cheeriness. Where ‘Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand’ dealt with many aspects of human existence, notably death and humanity’s struggles ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ challenges perceptions of morality and faith

Averill offers this explanation which spans both albums: “We are animals, beasts and making peace with that beast might be your life’s work but more often than not he is never tamed. Once a wolf always a wolf.

“We all seek redemption in one way or another, from lies or from truth. Those of us who are godless or faithle­ss often envy the man of faith for his life seems to have an extra purpose, despite the fact that logic, pragmatism, science and realism should crush any sign of faith, we still persist in lying to ourselves.

“Perhaps the alternative is too much to bear.

“So the themes of religion, mortality and death occur over and over again, along with continuing themes of alienation, martyrdom, sacrifice, violence and retribution. Occasionally, very occasionally, a chink of light breaks through.”

The stated aim of the band was to bring a more live sound and an aural landscape with more breadth and generally heavier. The band and Gomez have achieved it on their eighth album and, according to Alan Averill: “We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history!”

There is a constancy to each of the tracks in their feel, although ‘Ghosts of the Charnel House’ has an echo of Gojira about it this is a minor quibble, and it could be argued Primordial were doing Gojira sounds before Gojira were doing Gojira…

The stand-out songs are the title track and ‘Born to Night’. The latter opens with ominous Celtic riffs and intricacies from both guitarists and MacAmlaigh’s bass before exploding into a tune that echoes Lizzy at their most Celtic with added muscle and purpose. Like closer ‘Wield….’ this is a true epic.

What Primordial have managed to do is put together an album that builds on its predecessors and elevates them to the top of the extreme pagan metal tree, from where they can look down on the pretenders and know they have turned in a tour de force release.

Review: Jonathan Traynor

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