The dictionary defines the word primordial as something that existed at the beginning of time, or is something that is native, fundamental or at the earliest stages of development. This could also describe the music of Ireland’s Primordial. Lead by the visually intimidating and dark persona of A.A. Nemtheanga aka Alan Averill, Primordial’s sound is a combination of early 80’s NWOBHM with Celtic, Folk, and Black Metal influences that crawl from the ooze to create a primal, heavy, and engagingly original doom-laden heavy metal. With eight songs spanning just under an hour in length, the bands latest opus, Where Greater Men Have Fallen contains the bands penchant for writing long epic compositions that are mesmerizing, stunning, and brutal.
The album begins in spectacular fashion with drummer Simon O’Laoghaire’s pounding drums and guitarists ‘s Ciaran MacUiliam and Michael O’Floinn’s crushing riffs of the title track, which features an anthemic powerful chorus filled with Nemtheanga’s trademark vocals filled with fury and emotion. The slow doom dirge of Babel’s Tower is fueled by Nemtheanga’s melancholy vocal melodies filled with rage and passion. The truly great vocalists in metal sing with heartfelt emotion and A.A. is one that conveys his anger and tortured soul in every lyric he sings. Come The Flood is a powerful and dramatic piece with dark haunting Celtic melodies and piercing vocals filled with pain and anguish.
Primordial show their penchant for the darkness on the crushing Black Metal of The Seed of Tyrants. O’Laoghaire’s furious drums drive the songs heaviest moments and then he sets the table for the 70’s Sabbath-esque doom metal of Ghosts of The Charnel House. Nemtheanga’s vocals take a harsher, more sinister Black Metal tone on The Alchemist’s Head. Solitary clean guitars begin the slow build of Born to Night, ascending in urgency for several minutes until O’Laoghaire’s crashing and powerful drums herald A.A.’s dramatic bellowing tortured vocals.
The albums final moment Wield Lightning To Split the Sun is also the recordings most beautifully tragic. Averill is at his most brilliant here, conveying pain and heart-wrenching emotion. There are some metal fans who may not give this album its due based on the bands imagery and connection to Black Metal and Doom, but to those people, I urge you to look past the imagery and delve deeper into each song, because there is more to discover beneath the surface. Primordial is not the sort of band that can be pre-packaged and sold to the masses, they are an acquired taste to be sure, but for those metal fans with an open mind you will discover an album that is pure, honest, and raw. For the legion of Primordial faithful, Where Greater Men Have Fallen picks right up where 2011’s Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand left off and exceeds all expectations.