Primordial: Where Greater Men Have Fallen

Irish firebrands prove a matter of life and death

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Over the 19 years since they released their Imrama debut, Primordial will have become accustomed to frothing plaudits that focus upon the undeniably epic and bombastic nature of their music.

Rawness and hostility have been trademarks too, of course, but perhaps due to their Irish nationality and clichéd perceptions of what that truly means for creative types from across the water, one key factor that underpins everything that Primordial do is often overlooked. This band are at one with the soil beneath their feet: not gazing wistfully into the night sky like their supposed Norse brethren, but cursing the gravity that glues them to the earth – mortal, fragile, soon to be dust. And while Where Greater Men Have Fallen certainly conforms to Primordial’s notoriously bombastic urges, never before has their intensely human, fleshly and, dare we say it, sentimental essence been so noisily and stridently proclaimed as it is here. The opening title track tells the whole tale perfectly well on its own. Eight minutes of thrillingly dramatic, wide-screen extremity, delivered at a stately throb and as wild and bereft of artifice as fans of this band will be expecting. And yet within the self-evident hugeness and glacial elegance of the sound itself there is something very moving and intimate at work. Primordial have always touched upon notions of death, of course, but there is a sadness inherent in these songs that speaks volumes about how the passing of time impacts on musicians who may once have preferred to hide behind ambiguous stories and arcane imagery. Even within the frenzied, white noise blasting of Come The Flood, Alan Averill and his comrades are audibly in thrall to the steady but slowing pulse of their own blood, not to mention rooted to the spot by the jarring horror of mankind’s smallness and transience. That they are able to convey such potent emotions through such a life-affirming and exhilarating cacophony, replete with melodies of refined beauty, tells us all we need to know about precisely why this band are so loved and valued by the underground masses. This time round, Primordial have aimed straight for the heart.

Via Metal Blade

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.