After two demos, “Imrama” was the birth of the phenomenon that is PRIMORDIAL, discovered by then groundbreaking British label Cacophonous Records. And while the strong pagan spirit already had been prevalent from the beginning of “Fuil Ársa”, the music was considerably different from the epic grandeur of a “To The Nameless Dead”, far more rooted in Black Metal. But no matter which era you’d be looking at, PRIMORDIAL are yet another prime example for the musical uniqueness of Ireland, which breathes this defiant spirit and power, no matter which musical direction it may be, other representatives being the likes of CRUACHAN, GEASA, MAEL MÓRDHA or WAYLANDER, very different from each other, yet part of one.
What had set PRIMORDIAL apart from all the other bands that had been exploring the pagan side of Black Metal back then, was Alan Nemtheanga’s vocals, which can sound venomous at one moment and then clear and powerful the next, which in connection with the more Black Metallic fury of “Infernal Summer” form a symbiosis that lend the songs another dimension that many other bands can only dream of. These vocals, acoustic guitars and incredible, intense melodies are used to build up this inimitable atmosphere that is one of the Irishmen biggest assets and over the years were further enhanced, while the Black Metal elements were toned down more and more. And these harsher passages might be a bit of a problem for some of the newer fans of the band, as they add an element of ugliness to the often beautiful soundscapes erected.
It is hard for me to point out single songs, because they all work together as a piece of art that is hard to dissect, but unfolds more of a united feel, the intensity of a “The Darkest Flame” that has a strong Doomy feeling to it or the pure Folk of “Beneath A Bronze Sky” (with acoustic guitars, bodhrán and flute) being two of the exceptions, but that should not distract you from the rest that is to be found on this album, because everything is there for a reason and nothing seems random, from the slight dissonances in the harmonies over rebellious outbreaks of Black Metal to the emotional depth that few others can rival, constantly challenging the listener with new twists and turns, yet keeping them hooked with the brilliant melodies that are woven into the tapestry of sound and spirit that is PRIMORDIAL.
The re-release of “Imrama” via Metal Blade comes with four demo versions as bonus and a full bonus DVD (which I do not have as part of my promo) and if you don’t own the original already (as I do), this is a must-have, as this is a milestone in Black Metal, by a band that defies the expectations and rules of a genre and transcend the boundaries commonly associated with it and forge their own way. Even if you do not like Black Metal, give this a try, because this is SO much more than that and goes way beyond.
(Online August 10, 2009)