Redemption at the Puritan's Hand

Written by: EW on 09/08/2011 19:31:58

Never have I been more convinced of an album's full 10/10 status than I was with Primordial's 2007 epic "To The Nameless Dead", a release which I described as "one of the greatest" and "future classic", with not a hint exaggeration not then and not now. To say I had greatly anticipated that masterpiece's follow-up would be stating the obvious to the extreme, but with so much riding on it I have not hurried my review, instead giving it three months of countless listens as I did with their previous opus to make the most informed judgment on album no. 7 from one of metal’s greatest current acts.

The adjectives I have previously used with Ireland's Primordial - "epic", "emotive", "vastness", "grandeur", "passionate" - all naturally remain by the bucketload as the song constructions found within "Redemption…" could arguably be described as more relentless than "To The…"; the battles being fought 4 years ago are still in continuance yet the feeling is more pessimistic this time around. As frontman (or I prefer to say, my idol) Alan Averill chants in the likes of "Bloodied Yet Unbowed" he do so as a preacher standing at the pulpit, issuing sermons of strength, distrust and conviction to the seething mass of metalheads beneath him, blood coursing through his veins with all the rage and strength of spirit that remains undiminished in those with the heart to fight true to the end, at whatever cost. "No Grave Deep Enough" is the rallying call at the start of the album as "Empire Falls" was before, resounding, fast and uplifting, while "Lain With The Wolf" and "The Mouth Of Judas" both reside at the slower end of the spectrum in their dress of personality and humane warmth, fuelling the need for variance in song to garner these kind of plaudits all others fail to get near.

What is quickly clear on a Primordial album (among countless other compliments) is their brilliant, unique and organic production style. Why so few other bands outside certain regions of black and doom metal eschew the conveyor belt, lifeless and downright unnatural modern production trend is a curiosity, as what we have here is simply better. It sounds like a real band. No more need be said on this issue…

While few obvious hints of Primordial's more blackened past remain those that do are not shy to appear in "God's Old Snake" and "The Black Hundred", Averill's vocals taking on a howling anger matching the bleak riffing of guitarists Ciaran MacUiliam and Michael O'Floinn as the strain of releasing music with such depth begins to take it's toll on the vigour of the band's output. With "The Black Hundred" and "The Puritan's Hand" there are moments (yes, only moments) where the intensity does sag, revealing flakes of imperfection that were simply non-existent on previous records, but truth be told they don't last long. With all eight songs topping 6 minutes in length there seems countless time for each to tell their own story and impeach upon the listener their own meaning behind the band's thoughtful lyrics and dynamically rhythmic angles. I believe Averill's assertions that their music is crafted in the old-fashioned way: one band, in a room, jamming until the songs take form, however long the process. It really shows.

"Redemption at the Puritan's Hand" has taken more listens to grasp than previous experiences with the band but do not let that become a barrier to enjoyment. What we have here is an art form and it should be enjoyed by all. I may continue to rate "To The Nameless Dead" as the superior but this, this is still stunningly good. When does Primordial's coronation take place exactly?


Download: No Grave Deep Enough, Bloodied Yet Unbowed, Death Of The Gods
For The Fans Of: Bathory, Mael Mordha, Doomsword, Wolves in the Throne Room
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 23.04.2011
Metal Blade Records

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