Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins album review

Ireland’s underground veterans Primordial come through a trial by fire with Exile Amongst The Ruins

Primordial Exile amongst the Ruins album cover

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Exile Amongst The Ruins

Primordial Exile amongst the Ruins album cover

1. Nail Their Tongues
2. To Hell Or The Hangman
3. Where Lie The Gods
4. Exile Amongst The Ruins
5. Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed
6. Stolen Years
7. Sunken Lungs
8. Last Call

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By all accounts Exile Amongst The Ruins had a difficult birth. Finding themselves short of opportunities to band together to actually write their ninth album, the Irishmen entered a studio in Dublin unprepared – by their admittedly high standards – intending to rely on their instincts and their decades-spanning history of making music together to try to make another masterpiece. Describing recording sessions for their follow-up to 2014’s critically acclaimed Where Greater Men Have Fallen as “more or less an endurance test filled with conflict and discomfort”, frontman Alan Averill also admitted that the quintet questioned whether their hearts were in it after 27 years and if their fusion of black metal and Celtic folk was still vital and fresh. This trial by fire has resulted in an incendiary opus from the underground legends and it’s one of the most urgent and, at times, surprising offerings Primordial have released in recent times. 

Comprised of eight tracks, there are two songs in particular – To Hell Or The Hangman and Stolen Years – that will definitely cause something of a stir in some circles. The former is a galloping, space rock-tinged stomper that calls to mind the Primordial frontman’s side-project Dread Sovereign, while the latter is an odd but infectious threnody that flirts slightly with post-rock and 80s power ballads and really gets under your skin with repeat plays. Elsewhere, Sunken Lungs particularly impresses thanks to a powerhouse performance from the frontman. Driven by pounding percussion and Thin Lizzy-esque leads during the midway point, it’s one of the catchiest songs Primordial have ever created, while the monstrous title track and the labyrinthine Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed will sate fans’ thirst for the kind of drama-laced bloody and thunder epics that the band have become revered for. An ambitious and arresting opus, Exile Amongst The Ruins firmly states that Alan Averill and co still have plenty to say.