Primordial

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Imrama

Primordial - Imrama ©1995 Cacophonous
1. Fuil Arsa
2. Infernal Summer
3. Here I Am King
4. The Darkest Flame
5. The Fires...
6. Mealltach
7. Let The Sun Set On Life Forever
8. To The Ends Of The Earth
9. Beneath A Bronze Sky
10. Awaiting The Dawn...

The debut album for Ireland's Primordial is a mixed bag of material, long on promise and potential but somewhat short on actual delivery. These naturistic warriors are taking their first baby steps on Imrama and you can just picture the band as little toddlers in feety-jammies, brandishing Fisher Price axes, lances, swords and knives. But hey, we all have to start somewhere.

Taking cues from doom metal and black metal, Imrama sets in place all the elements that the band would develop over time. The vocals range from raspy, Immortal-ish troll sounds to My Dying Bride styled mournful wails and moans. In between are occasional spoken word pieces that seem to be coming from the mouth of a valium crazed storyteller. The music of Primordial has elements of the two aforementioned genres with occasional traditional folksy music in spots. The attempts at their trademark epic, sweeping, grandiose style are well in place, but not quite developed as one would hope. The biggest drawback to Imrama is that the music often fails to really involve the listener. It's an easy album to tune out unless one is actively trying to listen. There are some very interesting moments in the album's opener and "Beneath a Bronze Sky", as both utilizes acoustic guitar backdrops and a tinge of folk. Many of the other songs rumble onwards with little grace or excitement, sticking to drawn out riffs and dissonant note selection.

Imrama isn't a terrible album, but compared to the band's later efforts, it's an easy one to forget about. The good moments make the CD worth finding before your time on this mortal coil winds down but if you are looking for your first Primordial album, directly proceed to a much more recent release. Imrama is all hints and promises, but no ring on your finger.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2002

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The Burning Season EP

Primordial - The Burning Season EP ©1999 Hammerheart
1. The Calling
2. Among The Lazarae
3. The Burning Season
4. And The Sun Set On Life Forever

The Burning Season was released in 1999 as a way for Primordial to introduce their fans to their new label, Hammerheart, plus show off some new tunes of the band's ever evolving musical style. Despite the fact that three of the four songs appear on 2000's Spirit the Earth Aflame, The Burning Season is an extremely impressive EP that is sure to blow the socks off any listener with a good set of ears. Unlike the band's earlier material, which was full of great ideas but sometimes lacked a bit in both production and even execution, this EP finds the band in fine form. The production is fantastic, allowing for an enormous amount of clarity in the instruments. This, of course, is very imporant considering how Primordial implements acoustic guitar, inventive percussion and a variety of vocal styles. But what stands out the most for Primordial is their ability to actually create an atmosphere that suggests all things grand and large. Most metal bands attempt to jimmy together an over-the-top, bigger than life facade but fail miserably. Grandiose music is a tricky artform and Primordial is a rare example of a band who can pull it off without sounding silly in the process.

Despite a bit of redundancy of songs, The Burning Season is still a necessity for anyone who wants to experience Primordial. The band has a way of instantly encouraging one to run out and find every single of their releases immediately. If you start here, you're going to immediately be hunting down copies of Spirit the Earth Aflame.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2002

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Spirit The Earth Aflame

Primordial - Spirit The Earth Aflame ©2000 Hammerheart
1. Spirit The Earth Aflame
2. Gods To The Godless
3. The Soul Must Weep
4. The Burning Season
5. Glorious Dawn
6. The Cruel Sea
7. Children Of The Harvest
8. To Enter Pagan
9. The Calling
10. Among The Lazarae
11. And The Sun Set On Life Forever

Ireland is not exactly known as a hotbed for extreme metal of any form, but a little band called Primordial has done a bit to put their country on the metal map. Having been around for well over a decade and taken in influence from the early Norwegian black metal scene, Primordial has come up with a unique and stirring sound that transcends the mediocre worldwide scene around them. The band, up to 2000, had released two full lengths, a split EP with Katatonia, and an EP, all of which featured the band's somewhat embryonic forms. However, Spirit the Earth Aflame finds the band nestling into their own spectacularly epic and sweeping sound.

Spirit the Earth Aflame's roots can certainly be found in listening to Bathory's Twilight of the Gods. Although the two CDs are miles apart in many degrees, the grand, massively sprawling atmosphere and overall ambience of the music is shared. The album is nearly seventy-five minutes long, almost existing as a singular piece of work, but spread more thoroughly than those peanut butter sandwiches your mom made for you in grammar school. As with many bands influenced by early black metal, Primordial has hints of that extreme, violent style, only tempered with their grandiose musical vision. There are also dabblings and small reminders that yes, this band does come from the part of the world that produces Celtic music and the river dancing chumps, so occasional Irish folky elements do pop up from time to time. The majority of the time, though, the band sticks to drawn-out arrangements, interplay between acoustic and heavy guitar, and intermixing of a variety of vocal approaches. Fortunately, the rasping is kept to a discrete minimum and the low intoned speak-singing doesn't come across as goofy or suffocatingly melodramatic. Some might find kinship between Primordial and Bal-Sagoth, but Primordial definitely comes across with considerably less kitsch value. Most importantly, the songwriting, while expansive and long-winded, never loses track of forward song progression and keeps things interesting throughout the duration of the recording. And considering how long this album is, that's one impressive feat.

This CD is recommended towards those fans who wish to hear an expanded, fleshed out black metal inspired piece of work that lacks cheesiness. Spirit the Earth Aflame is an above average, highly enjoyable and expressive piece of work. There are very few metal bands who can capture such a powerful vibe throughout an entire album and Primordial reigns amongst those few.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2002

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Storm Before Calm

Primordial - Storm Before Calm ©2002 Hammerheart
1. The Heretics Age
2. Fallen To Ruin
3. Cast To The Pyre
4. Suns First Rays
5. What Sleeps Within
6. Sons Of The Morrigan
7. Hosting Of The Sidhe

Galloping out of the gates from the first second of the CD, Primordial wastes no time in setting the tone for their latest release, Storm Before Calm. For those familiar with the band, the new CD isn't chock full of new surprises, but Primordial is the sort of band that can get away with working within the confines of their sound, as it's a good sound overall. The music for Storm Before Calm is a stripped down, more mood-driven entity than before, which means the band works on repeating guitar riffs and creating atmosphere more than showing off their ability to dance a fretboard. Using both stretching guitar strumming and dissonance, the band succeeds very much in their mission. The band's secret weopon is drummer S. O'Laoghaire, whose creative patterns and approach give the music a very necessary push. The vocals range from a black metal rasp to tortured, pained sounding clean singing.

Storm Before Calm isn't the type of record that bursts forth with its theme. Instead, the record seems to work more subliminally. The atmosphere of the music is by far the most important aspect and it's one of the rare metal bands today that captures it well. Storm Before Calm is indeed the promised nasty weather and is a worthy purchase for fans of hybrids of doom and black metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2002

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