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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Primordial

To The Nameless Dead

Review by Mike Korn

It's pretty hard to shoehorn Ireland's Primordial into any kind of musical box. Their sound is unique and has influences from a lot of different quarters. But two descriptions will always hit the mark: epic and emotional. Sincerity and heartfelt passion are bursting from the grooves of this disc. You just can't fake feelings this deep. Primordial is a band that concerns itself with the human condition...where we have come from and the dark future that we seem to be embracing. Frontman Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) puts heart and soul into his vocals, as he tackles questions like what happens to the soul of nations that no longer exist and what is it that makes up a nation in the first place. These are profound themes and Averill's conclusion of where we're heading is not an optimistic one. Therefore, the music of Primordial is vast and melancholy, with a lot of the feeling of the band's Irish home in it. The songs are long but not overly complex. Their simplicity is part of their strength, as they combine aspects of doom metal, folk and black metal into a unique sound that is Primordial. It will probably take several listens before all the hidden depths of "To The Nameless Dead" reveal themselves. Take my word for it, you don't hear music with this much passion in it these days. This is a record that will make you think and that will haunt your mind.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Empire Falls
A sad acoustic guitar melody sounds like a cold wind whipping across a desolate plain. Then the guitars come crashing in, taking the same basic melody and amplifying it into a powerful, military-sounding march. The Gaelic feeling is extremely strong here and the guitars form a dense wall of sound. This isn't the kind of metal to break your neck or blow your head off, but it creates a different sort of power.That power is accentuated by some of Averill's most potent lyrics: "Every empire falls/And the Earth to ashes turn/The lands of my birth/Shall be my tomb."
Gallows' Hymn
If anything, this tune is even more lugubrious and melancholy than "Empire Falls"...as is entirely appropriate. It's a slowly unfolding lament for a heathen man seemingly going to his death. Averill's vocals are mournfully somber as the song's sad melody unveils itself. And yet the heavy wall of guitar and the powerful double bass drum beat still keep the metal in this tragic epic.
As Rome Burns
The most epic cut on an album full of long songs, this is more uptempo than the two tracks that proceeded it. Driven by tribal drumming and a throbbing bass line, the song goes through several peaks and valleys, including a lengthy restrained section where gradually increasing vocals repeat this refrain: "Sing,sing, sing to the slaves/Sing to the slaves that Rome burns." There's no doubt that we are the slaves and the Rome that is burning is our Western civilization. It's amazing how the simple vocal patterns and strong riffs embed themselves in your consciousness. The track continues to build until reaching a massive crushing climax. Stirring stuff, indeed
Failure's Burden
By now, the record's pattern of songwriting is established and this cut fits it perfectly: the dense wall of guitars, the sad mid-tempo riffs and the sorrowful vocals of Alan Averill. This track has some faster tempos to quicken the pulse and Averill unleashes some growling but the overall feel is still one of lamentation. In this case, an old man bitterly reflects on the lessons of his life: "Every man is evil/Every man is a liar/And every word he speaks/Kindling for the fire."
Heathen Tribes
A quick acoustic guitar melody kicks this off, soon joined by a martial drumbeat and then some well-timed bursts of electric guitar fury. That pretty much sets the stage for this one...the constant switch between folky acoustic and pounding metal. The tempo is upbeat and this is probably the most positive and uplifting of the album's songs.
The Rising Tide
This is just a brief ambient piece of moody electronics that leads directly into the next tune.
Traitor's Gate
Primordial's black metal roots come into play here. This is by far the album's fastest song, scorching out of the gate with furious double bass and a very "black metal" sound. It merges that into some very majestic and powerful riffs that are more typical of the rest of the album. This one is a welcome injection of speed and pace into the generally measured tone of the album.
No Nation On This Earth
This is one of the hugest sounding songs I have ever heard! It's impossible to accurately describe the tank-like dignity of this massive song, with its very Irish sounding main riff and thunderous bottom end. It is a more than fitting end to a great album. I've never really heard anything quite like it. Lyrically, it's an announcement of doomsday, of how humanity is betraying the sacrifices made by those in the past, yet the music has an almost cheerful feeling in its heaviness. Averill's vocals are at their most acidic and death metallish on the verses, while his voice on the chorus reaches to the heavens. This album is worth checking out just for this epic alone!
 
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