Some bands have a hard time doing things wrong. While most artists will alternate great albums with mediocre to dire ones on occasion, there are a few bands who manage to keep a certain momentum. Ireland’s Primordial is such a band, and Where Greater Man Have Fallen is another great album in a truly impressive and ever-expanding catalogue.
Primordial, from Skerries, Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, has never released a bad album, instead constantly improving upon their own sound, releasing ever stronger albums in the process. Debut album Imrama (1995) saw the band tackle black metal in their own way, and it’s definitely the rawest album and most evil album they’ve released. From A Journey’s End onwards, however, the band has been incorporating more and more classic metal into their sound, without losing their gritty edge. More hypnotizing with every new record, Primordial has grown into a hybrid of early, no-nonsense heavy metal and Viking era Bathory, with an ever increasing amount of folk influences fused into their sound. The band has also grown into a headliner act, not in the least due to Alan Nemtheanga’s captivating and intense stage precense.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen is the eight album from the band, and it’s another hour of top-notch pagan/folk. The guys clearly understood the importance of having a great opening track, because the title song is one of the most fist-in-the-air, classic metal anthems you will have heard all year. In eight minutes, Primordial beguiles and mesmerises, and as an opening track it’s so strong, it becomes near impossible to live up to the expectations for the rest of the album. Luckily, the remainder of Where Greater Men Have Fallen is very strong, but one cannot help but think that the band has fired off it’s strongest song right at the start.
With Babel’s Tower, the band returns to a more spellbinding mid-tempo churn that makes this band so great in the first place. Averill sounds like his own, tormented self on this eight minute song, which features some of the most heartrending guitar solos the band has ever put out. It’s pure Primordial; intense, melancholic and mesmerising. Come the Flood continues with a more folky guitar intro, before diving into a haunting mid-tempo song. The following The Seed of Tyrants sees the band return to their heavier roots, with blast beats and more raw vocals. It’s a nice surprise to see the band pound out stuff like this once again, and it definitely breaks the mold a bit.
Another such surprise is The Alchemist’s Head, a little further on, which sounds wonderfully distorted and would not have been out of place on either Imrama or A Journey’s End, when the band was closer to their black metal roots than they are these days. The last definite highlight is the very folky Wield Lightning to Split the Sun, which starts out with some heavy percussion and acoustic guitars before it becomes a stately metal song which can easily be counted amongst Primordial‘s grandest sounding songs. A marvellous closing track to a very strong album.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen might or might not be Primordial‘s best album, depending on where you stand (personally, I still regard 2007’s To the Nameless Dead as the band’s absolute high water mark). It features a few of the best tracks these guys have ever put out, and the albums captivates effortlessly for an hour, and I have a feeling that it’s a record that will grow on you as time progresses. Nevertheless, it easily ranks up there with Primordial‘s best work, and I’m amazed at how they keep pulling off releasing albums this good time and time again. I cannot recommend this one enough.
Release date: out now
Label: Metal Blade
- Where Greater Men Have Fallen (8:06)
- 02. Babel’s Tower (8:14)
- 03. Come the Flood (7:17)
- 04. The Seed of Tyrants (5:31)
- 05. Ghosts of the Charnel House (7:30)
- 06. The Alchemist’s Head (6:08)
- 07. Born to Night (8:53)
- 08. Wield Lightning to Split the Sun (6:59)
- Alan Averill “Nemtheanga” – vocals (1991–present)
- Ciáran MacUiliam – guitars (1987–present)
- Micheál Ó Floinn – guitars (2001–present)
- Pól MacAmhlaigh – bass (1987–present)
- Simon Ó Laoghaire – drums (1997–present)