Primordial – “Exile Amongst The Ruins”

Primordial – “Exile Amongst The Ruins” (Metal Blade Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Ireland’s dark sons return! Reaching their peak with 2014’s critically acclaimed “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”, Primordial became an internationally recognised headliner name well beyond their humble beginnings in Skerries, County Dublin. Reflective of its rich countryside surroundings, the material on “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” was lush and epic, tracked with plenty of time and with comfort. For this 9th album, the contrast couldn’t be greater. Recorded at Dublin’s Camelot Studios, located adjacent to their rehearsal room, “Exile Amongst The Ruins” has a more old school feel fraught with creative tension, and while the initial sessions went to plan, stress and discomfort soon became a big part of finishing this album according to the band. Equally, the subject matter of collapsing political federations, loss and preparing for the death of loved ones only adds to the grimness and melancholy of both the material and poignant lyrics. That said, all this has the ingredients in the making of a classic Primordial album, and sure enough, in the very capable hands of these 5 Irish lads, they’ve landed another winner. From the ultra deep title track ‘Exile Amongst The Ruins’ with its dark clanging melodies and powerfully themed riff to the 8+ minute ‘Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed’ with its colossal shoegaze like guitars provide an irresistible soundscape steeped in emotion amplified at each note by Alan Averill’s moving vocals in between crashes of massive drums, the pace reaches frantic almost tribal trance dimensions, and you know you’re listening to a Primordial record! Beginning ambiently enough with the guitars in the background and mandolin like melodies, ‘Stolen Years’ which is about losing friends soon adds measured power to bring the emotions to the brim as Averill’s soulfully melancholic vocals tell of setting out on a night, only for it to be your last. In complete contrast is the 7+ minute ‘Sunken Lives’, a frantic piece with plenty of intense instrumental drum work from Simon O’Laoghaire, more Celtic / shoegaze melodies, along with chopping tempo changes reflecting the theme of tempestuous seas and the lives lost to them that builds and explodes with such intensity that you actually feel you’re one of those poor drowning souls! Ending with an absolute epic in the 10+ minute ‘Last Call’ the sheer power from the guitars of Ciáran MacUiliam and Micheál Ó Floinn is physically breathtaking, along with Pól MacAmhlaigh’s roughly hewn bass plucking its way to the fore as O’Laoghaire lavishes the listener with drum rolls alpenty while Averill adds more contrast through his baritone almost spoken word! Utterly devastating on the senses and soul, Primordial show that whether in the expanse of an Irish farmhouse or a Dublin shoe box, they can still bring their blinding intensity and deepest of sorrowful souls in yet another spectacular release.

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