It is now just over 16 years since I first heard Primordial; when they played the Metal Hammer ‘Black Christmas’ gig supporting Cradle Of Filth. After their set the band members were out amongst the crowd selling copies of their excellent debut album “Imrama” and even though I had lost touch with the band a little recently, I was looking forward to hearing their latest offering.
Primordial’s seventh album is the follow up to 2008’s “To The Nameless Dead”, an album that took the band to new heights. With this success came extra touring and festival commitments, which lead to some well documented problems within the band and the departure of drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, before the band reformed last Autumn to start work on “Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand”.
The album opens with ‘No Grave Deep Enough’ and ‘Lain With The Wolf’ which both feature intros with a Celtic flavour before the rhythm section of Simon O’Laoghaire (drums) and Paul MacAimaigh (bass) combine with guitarists Ciaran MacUiliam and Michael O’Floinn on the incredible melodies that appear throughout the album.
On the third track ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ vocalist Alan ‘Nemtheanga’ Averill seems to be telling the stories of the difficulties that Primordial had endured in recent times. ‘God’s Old Snake’ is one of two shorter songs on the album at a mere six and a half minutes has a different feel and breaks up the album well, with a more traditional black metal sound.
‘The Mouth Of Judas’ is the slowest song on the album and has a morose and mournful tone; ‘The Black Hundred’ picks up the pace again with another 6-minute track, and the ‘The Puritan’s Hand’ again combines the melodies apparent in earlier tunes with some reflective lyrics. The album closes with ‘Death Of The Gods’ which weighing in at over nine minutes, is the longest track on the album and by the time the album has slowly faded out I am already anticipating the next album, and reacquainting myself with older releases.
With just 8 tracks in the 64 minute running time, this is an album you have to invest a fair amount of time in, but every track is a superbly crafted tale by a band that have put their past troubles behind them and realized that each of them is needed for Primordial to work at the highest level. This album vindicates that decision.
While “Puritan…” may be described by the band as a “death” album in the way the album confronts the way we deal with mortality, it may also be the start of a new beginning for the band. Primordial can use past experience to go on from here and take on the success that this album will no doubt bring them. Primordial seem to grow with every release and this album one of the strongest of the year.