Primordial

Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Written by: EW on 08/01/2015 23:27:06

If I were to ask you to name a band that is genuinely groundbreaking, recognisable, passionate, organic and crucially, still releasing their best music today, I honestly believe that, within metal at least, you would struggle to fill the fingers of one hand. Not just resident in that list, but sitting at the top, are Ireland’s Primordial, a band that are by now so heavily lauded by critics and fans alike it is a testament to most heavy metal 'fans' lack of underground intrigue that they are not selling by the hundreds of thousands and playing large venues. On such standards are passionate music fans identified.

Simply put, the blood runs deep in this band. At eight tracks in fifty-nine minutes, eighth album "Where Greater Men Have Fallen" does not reveal all it’s secrets on the first, second or even third listen. When in full flow the output of Alan Averill and his battered battalion is powerful yet sensitive; when rolling along in sombre reflection one can almost hear the blood-soaked trauma spread whether through the strength of lyric, or riffs that flow with the grace and beauty of the green Irish countryside. There is simply no let up in the Primordial ethos, a probable explanation for why they are too deep for too many.

For the acquainted, this does feel like the successor to 2011’s "Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand", both in how the band manage to somehow sound more heart-wrenching with every record and in the added layer of optimistic despondency which permeates. Of course, the cynical heart is disguised among varying moods of track; the title track which opens is classic Primordial fare, Maiden-esque in it’s unadulterated glory, slowly building to a great explosion and hook-laden chorus that has already proven it’s live worth and will continue to do so for many years to come. But move into "Babel’s Tower" and the outlook is very different: the doom pace and frosty black metal guitar sound display a deflection of scope surpassing even previous Primordial standards, as the song transitions from verse to chorus with such flowing, consummate ease.

There is incredible warmth to the album. How is that Primordial can repeatedly sound deeper and more meaningful than virtually every other act out there? A refusal to conform to modern production standards, the kind to suck out the human aspect, and a tightness of performance redolent of song-writing the old-school way - countless rehearsal room hours spent in a, jamming, discussing. Not conducted via email with occasional meet-ups to bodge disparate sections written by physically separated band members into an unholy mess.

If you aren’t convinced, try listening to "Born to Night", another track to birth gradually into a superb crescendo of power from the archetype washed out Primordial guitar sound. Rousing. "Come the Flood" is projected most epically, progressing at a comfortable pace and housing arguably the strongest vocal performance. "The Seed of Tyrants”, the fastest and heaviest track which washes into the mix symphonic pleasures of the guitar that remind of Drudkh, thumps along to an early (sub-six minute) conclusion like an impatient addict given free rein; "The Alchemist’s Head" as probably the weakest track incongruously leads from a fidgeting opening riff into a tempered verse, less effective than every other section found, but still winds up with the heaviest moments of the LP. "Wield Lightning to Split the Sun", a derisive critique of man-made Gods over nature’s own, hears dual vocal tracks emphasise Averill in the mix - hardly needed given the power of his delivery - is judgemental, ruminating and a fitting closer.

All five members make essential and noteworthy contributions without resort to flash instrumentation, generating a whole far greater than the sum of it’s parts. Four consecutive albums rating at least at 9s - how many bands can say that?

Download: Where Greater Men Have Fallen, Babel’s Tower, Born to Night, Wield Lightning to Split the Sun
For The Fans Of: Moonsorrow, Bathory, Mael Mórdha, Sólstafir
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.11.2014
Metal Blade Records

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