PRIMORDIAL
Folk Metal / Black Metal • Ireland

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Primordial is an Irish band founded in the late 1980's. They play a unique style of heavy metal, which can best be described as a blend of black and folk metal with strong influences from their Irish roots. Their music and lyrics deal with cultural heritage, struggle, melancholy and anger.

Primordial started out as a black metal band with some folk influences with their 1993 demo 'Dark Romanticism' and 1995 debut album 'Imrama'. With the 1998 album 'A Journey's End', Primordial underwent a strong stylistic change and delivered an album that was more original, personal and darker than anything they had done before. The different musical influences become more intertwined than ever before.

The trademark Primordial style become most apparent on the EP 'The Burning Season' and 'Spirit the Earth Aflame', their third full length album. This line was continued in the somewhat harsher album 'Storm Before Calm' from 2002.

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Dark RomanticismDark Romanticism
Import
Karmageddon Media 2006
Audio CD$14.99 (used)
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Metal Blade 2005
Audio CD$6.12
$4.58 (used)
To the Nameless DeadTo the Nameless Dead
Metal Blade 2007
Audio CD$6.47
$6.47 (used)
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Metal Blade 2011
Audio CD$8.19
$2.47 (used)
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Metal Blade 2009
Audio CD$9.61
$10.85 (used)
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Metal Blade 2011
Audio CD$8.84
$6.95 (used)
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Metal Blade 2010
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$1.99 (used)
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PRIMORDIAL Discography

PRIMORDIAL albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.01 | 3 ratings
Imrama
Black Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
A Journey's End
Folk Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 4.74 | 3 ratings
Spirit the Earth Aflame
Folk Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 4.01 | 3 ratings
Storm Before Calm
Black Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 7 ratings
The Gathering Wilderness
Folk Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 4.08 | 13 ratings
To the Nameless Dead
Folk Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 3.90 | 8 ratings
Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
Folk Metal 2011

PRIMORDIAL EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
The Burning Season
Black Metal 1999

PRIMORDIAL live albums

PRIMORDIAL demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

PRIMORDIAL boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Dark Romanticism
Black Metal 2004

PRIMORDIAL singles (0)

PRIMORDIAL movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
All Empires Fall
Black Metal 2010

PRIMORDIAL Reviews

PRIMORDIAL To the Nameless Dead

Album · 2007 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
If, as the album title suggests, Primordial's take on blackened folk metal is addressed "To the Nameless Dead", then those dead are being shouted at. It's a loud, explosive release that hammers at the senses like a battering ram. The lyrics, as delivered by A.A. Nemtheanga, aren't typical black metal fare and show a greatly increased thematic and emotional range, establishing Primordial's music as a matter to take seriously, and the powerful emotions driving the performances on here are unambiguous and inescapable. At 54 minutes the album cuts out early enough to avoid outstaying its welcome whilst at the same time delivering a substantial, satisfying experience.

PRIMORDIAL Imrama

Album · 1995 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Wilytank
Primordial are one of those common knowledge blackened folk metal acts that prove that you don't need cheesy keyboards or flutes and fiddles to make interesting folk metal; just a little acoustic guitar to go along with their epic sounding metal music. However, no one ever brings up their debut 'Imrama' in any discussions of the band. Granted, this is one one of their weaker albums, but there are a good amount of quality elements to keep me coming back to it.

This album actually leans more toward black metal than folk but the influences that hint at their later inversion of that order are definitely here. There's the opener "Fuil Arsa" which has folkish acoustic guitar played alongside the metal music and non-English lyrics. Beyond that song, the rest of this album is mostly black metal; but Primordial does have their trademark Primordial tone going already, i.e. lots of triplet riffs and lyrics dealing with paganism, society, and dark romanticism. Those three themes are enough to cycle back and forth from through the album's ten song cycle, and there's some very memorable licks like the aggressive sounding "Here I Am King" and "The Fires", the more somber "The Darkest Flame" and "Let the Sun Set on Life Forever", and the flat-out epic opener and closer pieces "Fuil Arsa" and "Awaiting the Dawn".

There are a few reasons why 'Imrama' is one of Primordial's weaker albums though. A lot of these pieces are good but not great, and the only two I'd put in a Primordial dream live set list are the opening and closing pieces. The musicianship feels sloppy in places' the example that comes first to my mind is in "Here I Am King" in the first blastbeating section where the riffs and drumming don't seem to match up right. Singer A.A. Nemtheanga combines all his styles like he usually does: harsh, spoken, and clean. However, 'Imrama' features some of his weakest clean vocals ever. The dude barely has any range here, which makes him sound pretty boring when compared to his work in Primordial's other albums. Fortunately, he'd improve in time for the sophomore album 'A Journey's End' three years later.

'Imrama' was their debut album and Primordial are one of those bands whose debut album is only a dry run of the excellent material to come. These pieces are weaker than Primordial's later work, but the majority of them are still good for what they are with the side effect of making their later albums seem even better in comparison. So, go ahead and give 'Imrama' a go if just to see what Primordial was like before 'Spirit the Earth Aflame' or 'To The Nameless Dead'.

PRIMORDIAL Redemption at the Puritan's Hand

Album · 2011 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Phonebook Eater
7/10

“Redemption At The Puritans Hand” is a really good follow up to “To the Nameless Dead”, without repeating the formula too insistently.

After four years, Primordial return with a new album to the joy of the fans. This release was highly anticipated, after following their masterpiece “To The Nameless Dead”. We get something that is highly similar in concept to the previous album, perhaps toned down just a bit.

If you expect something different from the previous album, you’ll be disappointed; musically, the two albums share the same style and sound, as it was simply a second part to “To The Nameless Dead”. Thus, we have an archaic sounding production, with harsh guitars, vocals, and drums. Together, they create a dark, bleak, but at times hopeful sounding atmosphere. Whether this album is darker and more effective, it’s highly debatable. However, I can’t deny that this album has quite some moments that are distinct and unique from the other albums.

“Redemption At The Puritans Hand” is a solid release overall, consistent, and very much coherent lyrically speaking, however, I can’t help not enjoying it all the way through. Some parts of the songs, aren’t necessarily bad, or boring, the album as a whole I guess was too long, or at least it felt like it was going on forever. One of the reasons might be that the band always stretches out their songs, without adding another part to them, but of course this band is not progressive, and I never expected them to do so.

I found myself really liking some songs on this one, like the first two songs that open the album, “No Grave Deep Enough” and “Lain With The Wolf”, both having an amazingly dark and bleak atmosphere, even in the harsher moments. “The Mouth Of Judas” was kind of catchy for this record, it has a brilliant melody and a great atmosphere, and “Death Of The Gods”, the final track, is a perfect ending for such an album. Other good songs would be “The Black Hundred”, in all it’s diversity, and “Blooded Yet Unbowed” once again having a good melody and haunting atmosphere.

A solid effort, no one can deny it: one of those albums you feel like something is wrong, but you just don’t see it, because in the end you have almost no complaints. Possibly the only thing is that it is feels, like I mentioned, way too long, and much more than just an hour. Nevertheless an album that is certainly worth the wait for Primordial fans.

PRIMORDIAL To the Nameless Dead

Album · 2007 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Phonebook Eater
8/10

“To The Nameless Dead”’s violent finesse makes it one of the key albums of Folk Metal.

Primordial, after the release of the acclaimed “The Gathering Wilderness”, took a step forward with their following release, “To The Nameless Dead”, thus far the best album that band has put out. Easily definable as a landmark album for Folk Metal, and puts Primordial among the highest names of such genre, along with Moonsorrow, Agalloch, Finntroll, Eluveite, Wuthering Heights, Nokturnal Mortum, and many others.

Like “the Gathering Wilderness”, “To The Nameless Dead finds it’s folkish elements not really in acoustic moments, which is a very common stereotype for Folk Metal, but in the rhythms, the dark, evoking melodies, the Ancient Roman flavored lyrics, the overall visceral and at times bleak atmosphere. However, this last album is more open to explicit Folklore, especially one song in particular, “Heathen Tribes”. The harshness of the guitars have not settled down, but have even more increased in intensity, the vocals by frontman Nemtheanga have got even more powerful and intense, yet always unique, the drums more fat but still great to hear. The atmosphere, like mentioned, is more effective and urgent than the previous albums: the solemnity of these galloping tracks is of an elegance (from the metal point of view, clearly)that rarely I hear in an album, is perfectly combined with a most visceral, crude, and rebellious atmosphere: this mix of almost opposing types of sound gives this album of a sort of violent finesse.

The reason of such a focused and clear atmosphere is also because of the lyrical content, which for the most part consists of Ancient Roman history, Roman Paganism, invasions. There is a more human approach on this one compared to the somewhat feral “The Gathering Wilderness”. However, nature is still of a great presence in this album, lyrically, but it isn’t hard to feel it in the air as well.

The album is the most solid Primordial has ever released, eight mostly long songs starting with“Empire Falls”, the opening track, no doubt one of the very best tracks of the band, with it’s amazing riff, strong vocals, great flow and amazing heaviness, while the surprising “Heathen Tribes” is a almost completely acoustic song that reminds much of Irish Folk music because of it’s andante rhythm. “As Rome Burns”’s nine minutes are another standout point, especially the second half of the song, where you find Primordial that have never been so intense. The Black Metal influences are most noticeable in the finale “No Nation Of This Earth”, which also has a mood and riffs that remind of such dark music.

There is really not one song I can talk badly about, a terrific album that rightfully deserves a place in the great metal efforts of the new millennium. An instant classic.

PRIMORDIAL The Gathering Wilderness

Album · 2005 · Folk Metal
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Phonebook Eater
7/10

“The Gathering Wilderness” sounds like a dark evocation of nature itself.

Primordial have been a huge success among the metal community, and praised as one of the best metal bands out there, as well as one of the best Folk Metal bands ever. One of the reasons for this success is “The Gathering Wilderness”, the band’s fifth studio album and the first that receives a lot of attention.

This Irish band has a pretty unique sound, and at the same time, it doesn’t sound like anything new: pure metal, with archaic sounding production and plenty of clean guitar atmospheres that go along with crunchy and heavy riffs, and harsh, yet extremely dramatic vocals, which sometimes are also shrieking. Many of these songs have unusual rhythms for metal, reminding a bit of traditional Irish music, a clear influence for this band. Folk Metal thus is the easiest label for this kind of music, but, looking also at the lyrics, there is a lot of references to paganism, nature, Gods, and Irish history, this way going also towards a Pagan Black Metal direction. These song structures are pretty stretched, going to the nine minute mark at the maximum. It’s a pretty long, but extremely solid release, featuring only seven tracks, that have many elements in common and remind one another, without it being a negative trait, as a matter of fact, it’s a characteristic that makes this album even more solid.

“The Gathering Wilderness” is a good mix of harshness and mellowness, but what makes this sound special is the way the musicians executed it and the overall sound if it: it has an evocative, yet savage production, like I said, thus it truly sounds like an evocation of nature itself, and I’m sure that is exactly what Nemtheanga and his fellow mates were aiming at, due also to their love for archaisms.

“The Golden Spiral”, the eight minute opener, gives you exactly what you’ll get for the remaining fifty minutes, but the title track adds even more spice to the course, as one of the greatest songs of the band, where the lyrics and the vocals are a standout. Hard not to be terrified when Nemtheanga sings “my Faith is not welcome here”. The remaining songs are really good as well, especially the extremely dramatic “The Coffin Ships”, and the final track “Cities Carved In Stone” which gives an epic conclusion to this album.

“The Gathering Wilderness” that will be for some a classic, and it a way, it is a standout for recent Celtic Metal. It’s intense drama and melancholy will eventually lead to the band’s masterpiece, “To The Nameless Dead”, which actually owes so much to “The Gathering Wilderness”.

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