Metal Blade are still busy re-releasing the back catalogue of Ireland’s finest and given their recent ascension into semi-stardom with their last two releases “The Gathering Wilderness” and even more so “To The Nameless Dead”, it is just logical that they continue to bring their earlier gemstones back into the spotlight.
“A Journey’s End” was PRIMORDIAL’s second album back in 1998 (at the same time their debut for Misanthropy Records) and it clearly shows the evolution of the Irishmen’s sound from the far more Black Metal influenced debut “Imrama” (especially in the production and guitar sound), this is the first (big) step towards their later sound, with the vocals still often rough, yet with Nemtheanga’s clear voice taking on a far more prominent role already, not quite as superb as it would be later on, but already packed with this raw emotion that makes PRIMORDIAL so special.
“Infernal Summer” kicks off the album in a thunderous way, emotive and powerful and with this indomitable Gaelic spirit weaving through the song and also the first appearance of the clear vocals, which then completely take over the reins on following “The Calling”, which features some intense acoustic guitars and overall “intensity” is probably a very good word to describe the song, the album, well, basically the band. The title track is one of my all-time faves in PRIMORDIAL’s catalogue, doomy and intense (see, there it is again), with this sense of utter despair swinging in the elegiac guitars and passionate, somewhat haunting delivery of Nemtheanga. That the Irish have not broken with their past, is proved by “The Purging Fire (Gods To The Godless)”, which shows a far stronger Black Metal influence both in vocals and guitar, yet is still cut from the same intense musical cloth.
Just like the other re-releases, “A Journey’s End” also features a bonus CD, this time coming from the “Burning Season” EP, which continues on down the same path as the album, as well as some live tracks that have a somewhat less outstanding value, mostly due to the often questionable sound quality.
Overall a worthy re-issue of a great album by a brilliant, original and highly influential band that more than deserves to be brought closer to a rapidly growing following. Now where’s that new album, lads?
(Online August 26, 2010)