Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Primordial — Redemption at the Puritan's Hand (Metal Blade)

This is another masterpiece from Irish black/pagan stalwarts Primordial. You could argue that Opeth or Enslaved can stand alongside them in terms of consistency, although recent albums by both bands have plenty of detractors. I’ve never read anyone accusing Primordial of dropping a discographical turd. For me, Primordial’s main “problem” is their consistency—I don’t know if they have that one “Hall of Fame” album for the ages. Hence, I listen to each new album a lot then file it away till the next one (I’d hate to part with any of them, though). Maybe Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand will be the one. I have been playing it a lot lately. I’ve tried to get sick of it, but it refuses to get old for me.

When I get a new Primordial release, I worry that all the songs will fall into the same rhythmic rut. The rolling 6/8 feel is Primordial’s thing and I feel they’re a little too comfortable with it. I was happy to hear that they break out of it a couple times on Redemption… on “God’s Old Snake” and “The Puritan’s Hand.” “Lain With the Wolf” also stands out for its unique rhythm, a propulsive, ultra-fast triplet feel that I don’t think I’ve ever heard in a metal song before. It sounds like it was a difficult song to record. The drums are right on the edge, but they always come back to hit hard on the “one” with the help of the locked-in bass line. The song generates huge momentum, and by the time it charges into the final frenetic 90 seconds you’re feeling as exhausted as the band must have been laying it down.

Singer (as opposed to vocalist, note) A.A. Nemtheanga is as articulate and passionate as ever here. He made last year’s Blood Revolt album a genuinely moving experience, and his work on Redemption… proves he can still go for the throat and the heart. “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” is the kind of song you want played at your funeral; a grim hymn to defiance and an instant classic that I’m sure Primordial will be playing live for the rest of their career. You can’t write a line like “Raise a glass, raise hell” without expecting people to respond in kind!

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