PRIMORDIAL, masters of melancholy and ferocity, return once again with a full-length album. With the fantastic “The Gathering Wilderness” and “To The Nameless Dead” to live up to, they were under quite some pressure this time. There is no sign of that however, as “Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand” is another great release from the Irishmen. The main elements are still the same. A dark, powerful and sorrowful mood is conveyed by an organic sound, riffs that grab the listener without feeling catchy in that sense, great drumming and one of the world’s best vocalists. All in all, there is a mix of elements from Heavy, Black, Folk and even Doom Metal that is hard to describe, but is entirely their own.
The sound has not changed that much from “To The Nameless Dead”. Perhaps the folk-influences are more subtle this time and many songs have longer slow parts. The album also features many subtle, yet extremely effective, changes in intensity and tempo that are the hubs of the songs. Otherwise, PRIMORDIAL give their fans what they ask for. The drumming is always perfectly placed and impresses with its mix between simpler and more advanced patterns that drive the songs forward. They are also very well placed in the mix, where they are clearly heard and retain their heaviness, while still keeping the production old school and raw, which also builds mood. The bass adds to the heaviness and force in the music, while the guitars with their extremely mood-creating riffs and melodies with a clear folk-influence and an epic and melancholy feeling to them. Completing the picture is Alan Averill Nemtheanga’s fascinating vocals. He expresses so much feeling with his voice, no matter if he is growling, declaiming, singing or crying out. His growls are Black Metal inspired and gnaw deep into the listener, while his completely unschooled singing conveys so much bitterness, sadness, anger and twisted triumph that it is impossible not to be swept along.
All songs have their place on “Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand”, be it the ferocious “No Grave Deep Enough”, the thoughtful “Bloodied Yet Unbowed”, “The Mouth Of Judas” with its tremendous riffing in the second half, the aggressive “The Black Hundred” or the folk-tinged masterpiece “Death Of The Gods”. Especially the opener and closer join the best songs that PRIMORDIAL have created. While these may be the best songs on here, all the others hold their ground with ease. What keeps this album from an even higher grade then? While all songs are good, a few more of them should have been absolute smash-hits to reach that. Angry and intense, yet folky parts may be what PRIMORDIAL do best and those are not quite as frequent on this, a little slower album, as on the predecessors.
This may not be an album that works well on the first listen. The production, the aggressiveness and the layers may not be penetrated immediately. This is also a record that demands the attention of the listener. Since much of the melodies are escorted by so much thunderous drumming and riffing, they may not be heard if listened to with focus entirely on something else. For the listener that sits down and lets the music engulf him or her, awaits another fascinating vision of sorrow, anger and bleakness, delivered by Alan Averill and his brothers in arms.
(Online February 6, 2012)