Style: Epic Celtic Black Pagan Doom
Similar bands: Mael Mórdha, Thyrfing, Darkest Era
Release date: 30.03.2018
Label: Metal Blade Records
There are some bands out there that I love, there are fewer bands that I worship, and there is this rare kind of band that I’m in awe of. PRIMORDIAL are definitely one of the latter. That is why my anticipation for “Exile Amongst the Ruins” also filled me with uncertainty about whether I will be able to fully understand the album or not, because you certainly never expect easy listening from PRIMORDIAL.
My uncertainty was increased by the previously released music videos for the songs “Stolen Years” and “To Hell or the Hangman”, because they puzzled me in the first place. The first of them sounds more like an interlude with vocals, and is a very unusual choice to introduce a new album to the Metal world. The Post-Punk rhythms of the second song do rather inspire you to dance, than to make you want to take a solitary walk over Irish meadows. Do not be fooled by these first impressions and give the whole album a try. Even though PRIMORDIAL may have further developed their unique style once again, they are still clearly to be recognised as for who they are.
For example, the opener “Nail Their Tongues” combines many of the band’s trademarks and strengths, such as doomy Heavy Metal parts and an overall Celtic mood. Even their Black Metal past is revived in short passages. But just as you start to feel at home between these quotes from the past, the song ends abruptly and the aforementioned “To Hell or the Hangman” begins. What makes this song so unusual is its Post-Punk and Industrial character, which was not heard from the Irishmen yet, but which will also not return in this form on the rest of the album again. Well, that’s not quite true, because an element that is typical of Post-Punk and Industrial, which runs through most of the album, is the steady repetition of rhythms and melodies. However, this stylistic device is by no means unusual in Doom and Black Metal too, which makes it a part of PRIMORDIAL’s DNA, but it has not been as prevalent on any of the band’s albums as on this one so far. The constant repetitions also make a decisive contribution to the fact, that you sink completely into “Exile Amongst the Ruins” in a trance. By contrast, the next song “Where Lie the Gods”, which exemplifies the observation that this album is sometimes even more gloomy and melancholy than its predecessors, almost seems conciliatory. However, as PRIMORDIAL are the masters of powerful suffering, this melancholy never emotionally tears you down. The poetic lyrics by frontman Alan Averill, on the spiritual and moral bloodletting in world affairs, do absolutely have this effect on a closer look. Throughout the whole album, the Irishmen present rousing mid-tempo anthems with expressive melodies, compact outbursts of rage and balladic phases to rest yourself. The wall of epic sound, which is so typical of the band, is of course once again a central component of the piece of art, that is “Exile Amongst the Ruins”.
PRIMORDIAL never wanted to make it easy for their listeners. Despite a very consistent lineup over the years and a definite recognition value, each album is a challenge and a task at the same time – for both the band and the listener. Those who accept “Exile Amongst the Ruins” as a challenge, will certainly not be disappointed, but will be surprised one time or another.
This album is a demanding piece of art for both the heart and the mind, that revealed itself to me only after I listened to it many times.