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Album Of The Month November 2007
Primordial | ‘To The Nameless Dead’

Isn’t it a sight indeed, for those of us watching over the years, to see Europe’s press finally lapping up a new Primordial album as if it were the best thing since sliced bread.

They’ve been effusive in their praise, giving the band (at last) the kind of just desserts that should have headed their way as far as ten years ago. Primordial have always been critically acclaimed – that well known euphemism for the financially cheated – but now they actually have the chance of widespread popularity. And long may it reign on the strength of this fearsome album.

All the omens were there on The Gathering Wilderness. It was obvious from the live shows in its wake that they had truly risen to a level of song writing and self – awareness that many bands championed today won’t ever have in their bosom. ‘The Coffin Ships’ gave audiences across Europe and America a sense of one with the band and a rallying call. It encapsulated everything Primordial were worth in one song, and the metal world has at last decided it wants more.

‘To The Nameless Dead’ dutifully gives it, in the form of their most mature and possibly most emotional album to date. Better yet, it is a textbook slow burner, and the type of album that disappoints initially only to bloom over many repeat listens. You’ll be surprised by that, in the first instance. You’ll maybe think it sluggish at points, or perhaps a shade overbearing. You’ll also be surprised though by just how great the reward after the songs reveal their depth.

Without wanting to overstate the case, opener ‘Empires Fall’ is the spirit of heavy metal distilled to 100% proof. It has all the guts and all the glory. The fight, the tragedy, the search for self, those quintessentials of the music we love and live all hammered out in one anthem of a track. It seems at first that they’ve blown their load early in electing to open with it. What’s not immediately apparent though is that it isn’t even the album’s best track. No, no, no: and believe me, you will relish this discovery. ‘To The Nameless Dead’s real gem is slightly further in. It is the epic, high minded and exquisitely developed ‘As Rome Burns.’

Harking back to the classic ‘Autumns Ablaze’ school of considered lyric and lengthy structuring, it is superior extreme metal, delivered with authority and passion. Its culmination is as rabble rousing a piece as they’ve ever penned, and comparisons are thin on the ground. It is that good. From the speed and Bruce Dickinson gnash on ‘Traitors Gate’ to the lyric and imagery of ‘Failures Burden’ (keeping the 90’s underground well and truly alive), it is classic, brilliant Primordial. That should be recommendation enough for anyone.

New vocal innovations clearly lifted from Neurosis add a hoary, embittered feel, while lyrics more impassioned than ever convey the sense of purpose missed by a plastic metal industry – the hollow victories, indeed. If ‘Coffin Ships’ was the microcosm of a powerful band unleashing their home truths, then ‘To The Nameless Dead’ should be the album that brings them to mass recognition. Opeth did it with more difficult, less spirited, yet equally authentic music as this. They’re a perfect example that it is possible once the troops fall into line. It would be fitting if Primordial were accorded the same respect. For we all know it is long overdue.

As the only metal band from Ireland that truly made the cut on the world stage, they’re destined to now reap the rewards of conviction. They never wavered: this is the same metal that Misanthropy once stood for, and the same metal that made the life blood of the underground a decade ago. If you dont like what this sounds like, or what it stands for, then get out; in all seriousness, leave the fucking hall. This is the very art of metal, and the fact that it’s Irish will make you doubly proud of it.

4.8 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 18/011/07

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