Primordial

support Slægt
author AP date 24/09/16 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Few metal concerts this year have been so eagerly awaited as Primordial’s first indoor show in Denmark since the band’s inception in 1993. Yet it is not the enigmatic nature of the Dublin, Ireland-born metallers that has ‘most everyone in thrall — but the consistency with which they have been churning out astounding works of art, most recently 2014’s "Where Greater Men Have Fallen”. Understandably then, tonight’s concert has been reporting few tickets left well in advance, and as I arrive half an hour early, VEGA’s small hall is already bustling with anxious fans and curious concert goers, giving the local opening act ideal circumstances in which to ply their trade.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Slægt

The mood is built with a long intro of haunting church organ before the local extreme metal hopefuls, or ‘black heavy metallers’ as the quartet likes to call itself, emerge from backstage and proceed to kick the evening off with a brand new track. A daring move — yet as I suspected in my review of the group’s latest outing, an EP titled “Beautiful and Damned”, the new material promises to be but an elaboration on everything that made that record such an enthralling listen. Thunderous blastbeats and tremolo mingle seamlessly with harmonies and blazing guitar solos, whilst the following piece, supposedly also fresh out of the oven, even exposes a strong influence of speed metal on the sophomore album to come. Musically, Slægt seems to have uncovered a goldmine; a creative fusion that sticks with you after the first listen not unlike what Tribulation did on their latest album ”The Children of the Night”.

Slægt’s performance, too, shares certain aspects with the aforementioned Swedish band; though nowhere near as theatrical, especially lead guitarist Anders M. Jørgensen must have taken notes from the impassioned, almost sensual demeanour for which Tribulation is renowned. Here though, the smooth, swaying movements hark back to hair metal rather than goth, which of course is in keeping with the quartet’s musical style as well. Quite right, Slægt is an intriguing proposition in the sense that the balls-to-the-wall energy of the four musicians cuts a striking contrast to the gloomy tone of a song like “Move in Chaos” — it is not what you are used to seeing in the blacker corners of extreme metal. But is these dichotomies in both music and showmanship that make Slægt such a fantastic live band, and judging by their efforts tonight, they are only getting better.

Primordial

Despite the fact that Primordial obviously commands a significant following in Denmark, tonight marks the first-ever indoor show the Irish pagan metallers have graced this country with (they did make an inaugural appearance at Copenhell two years ago). So you can imagine how heavy the anticipation hangs, and why the nigh maximum capacity audience should be demanding something extraordinary. That yearning spouts from the massive singalong that erupts during the chorus of the opening track, “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” and is duly noted by the quintet’s formidable front figure, Alan Averill ‘Nemtheanga’, who as the only member is wearing corpse paint, and clad in ghastly, lacerated robes. The thunderous response to his roaring ”Are you with me?” are an unquestionable testimony to this band’s emerging extreme metal stardom. It is easy to hear why: picks like “Gods to the Godless” and “No Grave Deep Enough” are frankly phenomenal pieces of music — enormous in their ambition; chilling in their grandeur.

With such a fearsome arsenal of records (we are given samples of each, sans the band’s 1995 début “Imrama”), Primordial could almost be permitted to turn their backs to us in arrogance and let the songs shoulder all the weight. The Irish folk-inspired cascades of sombre majesty that constitute Primordial's music are more than capable of that. But as it happens, Averill goes to substantial lengths at ensuring the music is given a deserving visual aesthetic, namely his demonically imposing persona. Whilst the remaining four musicians — guitarists Ciáran MacUiliam & Micheál O’Floinn, bassist Pól MacAmlaigh and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire — play with an assuredness akin to Meshuggah’s instrumentalists, Averill hovers over the front of the audience like some ghoul, not so much singing or growling as preaching the likes of “Lain with the Wolf” and “As Rome Burns” to us. His presence is powerful, all-consuming, and worthy of a status as one of the finest frontmen in metal today.

Once the latter of those two songs is completed, Averill sets it in stone that his band means to mark the occasion with a truly special performance: ”We’re not even HALF-way yet!” he roars, even though the clock shows more than 60 minutes have passed. What better way to repay the patience of your most devout fans, than to tailor a setlist exclusively for them; to put together a concert that no other stop of the tour has witnessed? Granted, the staggering length of tonight’s proceedings, weekend though it is, does filter out the non-diehards as “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” takes us past 75 minutes, but unquestionably, those that remain need the show to go on even as the magnificent “Empire Falls” concludes the proceedings. The calls for an encore do not go unheard though, and the band returns for one last, triumphant rendition of “Sons of the Morrigan” from their 2002 opus “Storm Before Calm” to send us into the night in euphoria.

Setlist:

  • 01. Where Greater Men Have Fallen
  • 02. Gods to the Godless
  • 03. No Grave Deep Enough
  • 04. Autumn’s Ablaze
  • 05. Lain with the Wolf
  • 06. Babel’s Tower
  • 07. As Rome Burns
  • 08. Traitors Gate
  • 09. The Mouth of Judas
  • 10. Bloodied Yet Unbowed
  • 11. The Coffin Ships
  • 12. Heathen Tribes
  • 13. Empire Falls

— Encore —

  • 14. Sons of the Morrigan

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