(Metal Blade, 2014)
I remember buying Primordial’s first full-length “Imrama” in 1995, during which times “Celtic” Metal bands such as Cruachan (and later Waylander as well) still seemed fresh and exotic, especially for those underground-people who hadn’t necessarily ever heard of Skyclad. Later, when these sensations of uniqueness changed, and “Pagan Metal” became a huge and trendy phenomenon with Folk-influenced bands popping like mushrooms in every country, Primordial had already ventured on a bit different sceneries. Albums such as “The Gathering Wilderness” and “To The Nameless Dead” brought the band to bigger sales and arenas, and many an influential Metal musician started naming Primordial as their favourite band.
Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill has featured in many noteworthy bands such as Desaster, Marduk, Rotting Christ, and handling all the vocals in bands like Blood Revolt. After he fronted the all-star band Twilight Of The Gods, I had a feeling the new Primordial-material might be a bit epic-Bathory-influenced as well, which is partly true, but then again Primordial has always been epic in these kinds of ways.
We got a preview of the new album in form of the title-track “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”, which gave hope of a truly majestic and epic album, musically and lyrically. Once again, we shall not be disappointed.
Averill’s lyrics have dealt with topics such as paganism, culture, and the struggles of the people (collectively or nationally) in a very intelligent, diverse, deep and poetically magnificent way. However, during the last years, I’ve personally gotten the feeling that he has gone from being “patriotically” on the side of the people to criticizing the herd-mentality of those living willingly under mental oppressors boots. Without knowing the man personally, this is only my own impression, but the atmosphere in the lyrics of the new album are perhaps a bit more “nihilistic” than before. Still, the brilliant writing style of Averill leaves the reader (listener) to make up his own mind, (in my opinion) on topics such as is a man falling in defence of his country a hero, or just another victim of the politicians, dying in vain. In the end, the lyrics are very multi-dimensional, so I will not be the one to analyse them further.
The music on this album is again very epic, majestic, massive, soaring high and diving deep. These are mostly songs to raise or burn flags to. These are hymns to make the whole audience sing with the choruses.
Averill’s vocals are extremely atmospheric and dramatic in voice and performance. A truly uplifting experience, as always. Among the clear singing, there are also parts of a bit more blackened but quite calm speech-like screaming in one song, which reminds of the bands origins. The guitar- and bass-riffs follow the same “Pagan yet mature” logic we have witnessed on the earlier albums, with each part quite simple in nature, but extremely gripping and memorable.
The sounds are good, suiting the atmospheres the songs are after splendidly. Produced by Jaime Gomez (responsible for the sounds of bands such as Cathedral, Angel Witch and Grave Miasma), the overall mixing highlights the most important aspects of the agitating guitars and grandiose drumming, while the vocals are audible in the way they deserve to be, for the listener to get everything out of the lyrics, without stealing attention from the background music.
Among the eight songs there are only a couple which might be labeled as a bit “characterless” compared to the overall effect of the rest of the songs, but this is naturally a question of taste.
With this album Primordial surely stand once more on the highest heaths of artistic talent and fame, while gaining new fans and reminding those who might have forgotten how real feelings are made. A highly recommended album for every fan of the older albums, as well as to every music-lover, whether with an interest into sociological, historical or political issues, or just wanting to raise a fist up high and enjoy monumental Metal-music!
9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki