This 2004 remaster contains a couple of unreleased tracks and two covers.
1. To Enter Pagan [05:49]
2. The Darkest Flame [04:36]
3. Among the Lazarae [05:52]
4. To the Ends of the Earth [06:04]
5. In Graciousness (Live) [03:46]
6. A Blacker Art (Live) [04:59]
7. Total Destruction (Bathory cover, Live) [03:36]
8. To Walk the Infernal Fields (Darkthrone cover, Live) [06:27]
Total playing time: 41:09
[size=3]Imrama - 1995 (2001 reissue)[/size]
1. Fuil Ársa [04:47]
2. Infernal Summer [06:12]
3. Here I Am King [04:27]
4. The Darkest Fire [05:19]
5. The Fires... [05:25]
7. Let The Sun Set On Life Forever [04:27]
8. To The Ends Of The Earth [05:31]
9. Beneath A Bronze Sky [03:28]
10. Awaiting The Dawn... [05:00]
11. The Calling (Bonus Track) [04:56]
12. Among The Lazarae (Bonus Track) [07:52]
Total playing time: 58:39
PRIMORDIAL are truly one of the most magnificent, original, talented and amazing bands to come from this my beloved emerald isle. As with fellow countrymen WAYLANDER and GEASA they can do no wrong and everything I hear is almost perfect.
This their debut-release "Imrama", it is my personal favourite for its "Black" nature which is more predominant than in all releases following this one. PRIMORDIAL's musical classification would be something like Celtic Pagan Folk Black Metal, a bit of a mouthful. This album is their most Black release yet still managing to fit the others in (well Pagan and Black go hand in hand anyway).
"Infernal Summer" is a great track to demonstrate some great variation to their style as it starts of very Black with an almost DARKTHRONE-edge to it yet the clean vocals add a new dimension and make things much more interesting and dynamic. The range in their work is more clearly highlighted with the track "Beneath A Bronze Sky", which is entirely Folk and has a great sounding bodhrán. The use of acoustics and electrics to accompany the vocal styles is comparable to OPETH only in a much more subtle and less complex way. This adds to the originality of the Black Metal that PRIMORDIAL have composed.
The simple melodies help to create that straightforward Black atmosphere of coolness, but there are enough twists and changes to keep everyone happy, especially those who don't generally like Black Metal (trust me you will like PRIMORDIAL). All instruments are executed well and the vocals are great sounding like LORD BELIAL, only much better, with a hint of MAYHEM and MARDUK in there for good measure.
Personally I feel that this is a release everyone should at least listen to. As with CRUACHAN, WAYLANDER and GEASA PRIMORDIAL must be heard before you decide as they do not conform to the boundaries of any genre. My advice try before you buy, but for me its a definite and worthy addition to my ever expanding CD-collection. (Niall of The Metal Observer)
[size=3]A Journey's End - 1998 (2001 reissue)[/size]
1. Graven Idol [08:06]
2. Dark Song [05:06]
3. Autumn's Ablaze [08:17]
4. Journey's End [08:01]
5. Solitary Mourner [02:56]
6. Bitter Harvest [10:34]
7. On Aistear Deirneach [04:28]
8. And the Sun Set on Life Forever (Bonus Track) [9:17]
Total playing time: 56:24
Something that annoys me in many albums out there is that either the music or the lyrics have little to do with the artwork, or lyrics and music don't match, or when they do the whole concept is far from original and interesting. Fortunately, there are still plenty of albums that don't fall in any of those traps, and _A Journey's End_ is one of those. As the artwork and interesting lyrics suggest, the music is doomy and doesn't really try to be catchy -- in fact, the album took a while to grow on me. _A Journey's End_ doesn't sound too much like anything else, but it could be compared to a somewhat blackened Darren-less Anathema mixed with a lot of Primordial's own work. This is essentially an evolution from their previous album, _Imrama_, showing vast improvement in some areas. There are less blackened vocals, but Averill's clean voice has improved enough to avoid turning this change into a problem; the song structures and atmosphere changed significantly as well. The album is formed by four long doomy tracks (over eight minutes each) and three shorter ones that differ from everything else on _A Journey's End_: the great acoustic "Dark Song", the sombre spoken "Solitary Mourner" and the finishing instrumental "On Aistear Deirneach". It may be Primordial's Irish origins that make them sound different, but this is far from being folk-influenced music, despite the frequent use of acoustics; what it does have is a certain uniqueness in some ways. Definitely not a vulgar album.
by: Pedro Azevedo (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 1/9/1998)
[size=3]The Burning Season [EP] - 1999[/size]
1. The Calling [04:57]
2. Among the Lazarae [07:54]
3. The Burning Season [08:47]
4. ...and the Sun Set on Life Forever [09:19]
Total playing time: 30:50
While _A Journey's End_ [CoC #33] was one of 1998's finest and most surprising releases for me, 1999 comes to an end without the release of a new full-length from Primordial, which is a shame. But with the band now signed to Hammerheart after the end of Misanthropy Records, _The Burning Season_ is an MCD intended to fill the gap between _A Journey's End_ and the next Primordial full-length. It contains two new songs and two re-recordings. "The Calling", which is basically an excellent long kind of intro, and "The Burning Season" are the novelties. The title track, which is therefore the main highlight as far as new material is concerned, is what might be called expectable (in a good way) after _A Journey's End_: not very different, but still excellent. The progressive blackening of Alan's voice towards the end of the song is especially remarkable. "Among the Lazarae" is a seven year old song from their _Dark Romanticism_ demo tape, but this re-recording turned out to be a highly enjoyable track for me as well. (Not knowing the original, I cannot compare the two versions.) Very slow and doomy start, followed by a spoken section, and then out of nowhere comes a blackened fast part with matching vocal delivery and great, subtle guitar melody. It then becomes slower again and eventually ends with another spoken part. Finally, closing track "Let the Sun Set on Life Forever" (quite an evocative song title as well) is a re-recording from their debut _Imrama_ [CoC #8]. Another slow and doomy start leading to a highly effective blackened attack which then slows down again, but despite the similar description the song is quite different from "Among the Lazarae". Personally, I find this new version of "Let the Sun Set on Life Forever" superior to the original one from _Imrama_, and it's not simply a direct re-recording just to get a different production on the same song. Primordial have again achieved a superb blend of dark emotion, atmosphere and music with this half-hour long MCD, which wasn't easy considering it includes two re-recordings. I can hardly wait for their next full-length.
by: Pedro Azevedo (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 15/1/2000)
[size=3]Spirit The Earth Aflame - 2000[/size]
1. Spirit the Earth Aflame [02:25]
2. Gods to the Godless [07:49]
3. The Soul Must Sleep [06:39]
4. The Burning Season [08:44]
5. Glorious Dawn [07:24]
6. The Cruel Sea [04:05]
7. Children of the Harvest [08:31]
8. To Enter Pagan (Bonus Live Track) [05:43]
Total playing time: 51:18
Following such a superb record as _A Journey's End_ [CoC #33] and an MCD like _The Burning Season_ [CoC #45], I expected nothing but sheer brilliance from _Spirit the Earth Aflame_. And after the title-track intro, "Gods to the Godless" provides you with an immediate taste of the impressive feeling, atmosphere and strength Primordial can imbue their music with. It is very epic and sombre, with an instrumental side similar to _A Journey's End_ (as is generally the case throughout) and offers the first indications that Nemtheanga's clean vocals still are not replacing his harsh vox, which in fact abound throughout _StEA_. The record reveals itself more epic and overall less doomy than _A Journey's End_ (though it still certainly has quite a doomy atmosphere), with dark, hateful passages arising more often than on its predecessor -- especially impressive during "Gods to the Godless". The third track "The Soul Must Sleep" is also very good indeed, doomier and very emotional, and is then followed by the title track from the _Spirit the Earth Aflame_ MCD -- another very good song that fits perfectly within the album, though a bit of a waste for those who own the MCD. Another mid-paced track, "Glorious Dawn", then follows, carrying vitriolic black vox throughout and a very effective fast passage. The highly evocative and war-like instrumental "The Cruel Sea" then precedes the album's final track, "Children of the Harvest", which is a less than brilliant closer but still acceptable. Overall, _StEA_ did not disappoint me despite my huge expectations, although it was not every bit as amazing as I though it could be -- maybe I expected too much from the band, but only time will tell. In any case, _StEA_ is very satisfactory: emotional, intelligent and quietly majestic.
by: Pedro Azevedo (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 12/8/2000)
[size=3]Storm Before Calm - 2002[/size]
1. The Heretics Age [06:17]
2. Fallen To Ruin [09:29]
3. Cast to the Pyre [07:06]
4. What Sleeps Within [04:57]
5. Suns First Rays [03:12]
6. Sons Of The Morrigan [08:09]
7. Hosting Of The Sidhe [07:06]
8. The Burning Season (Bonus Track) [08:47]
Total playing time: 55:07
In my experience, metal bands frequently tend to soften up with each successive album. Of course there are many more who start out brutal and just keep searching for more aggression with every new album, but what I have seldom found is a band who have grown considerably harsher after debuting in more tranquil fields. Fair enough, Primordial's debut album _Imrama_ [CoC #8] was quite black, so they don't entirely fit this pattern; but if one only considers their other three albums, then they become a bit of an exceptional case in the metal world. _A Journey's End_ [CoC #33] was much doomier, more sombre and introspective than _Imrama_. With _Spirit the Earth Aflame_ their music became more warlike, while still retaining most of the characteristics of its predecessors. The opening track on _Storm Before Calm_, however, is easily the fastest and harshest song Primordial have written since _Imrama_, and the album as a whole is again heavier than its predecessor. But much as this fast-paced album opener may be excellent in its own right, it also serves to greatly enhance the impact of the mid-paced track that follows: by contrast, "Fallen to Ruin" comes across as an even more powerful warlike dirge than it would have been capable of on its own. "Cast to the Pyre" comes next, again slower and more morose than the previous track. Primordial have no qualms about the length of their compositions or arranging them in any way they see fit, and although this particular track is lengthy and to a certain extent repetitive, it still works very well. But as soon as it finishes, "What Sleeps Within" makes its demonic appearance and the speed and harshness levels go up again, only to fade into the album's instrumental track. This precedes the record's last couple of songs (bear in mind the average length is about six to seven minutes), which consist of a mid-paced song with typical Primordial guitar work, and a drawn-out atmospheric piece. Overall, besides several sped up passages, there is also significantly less clean singing, replaced by various kinds of rasped vocals throughout the album. The Primordial touch is definitely still there though, be it in the highly distinctive bits of guitar work, drumming or vocals. Ireland's finest aim to sound more majestic on _Storm Before Calm_, again with a warlike feel to their music, and succeed at that, coming across as believable, authentic and inspired. Third winner in a row for Primordial, and an excellent record indeed.
by: Pedro Azevedo (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 1/9/2002)
[size=3]The Gathering Wilderness - 2005[/size]
1. The Golden Spiral [08:03]
2. The Gathering Wilderness [09:13]
3. The Song of the Tomb [07:57]
4. End of All Times (Martyrs Fire) [07:43]
5. The Coffin Ships [09:58]
6. Tragedy's Birth [08:32]
7. Cities Carved in Stone [08:07]
Total playing time: 59:33
Ireland's Primordial have had a brilliant, but somewhat unusual career so far. Ever since their second album, _A Journey's End_, they have been getting progressively angrier and more aggressive with _Spirit the Earth Aflame_ and especially _Storm Before Calm_ -- while most bands tend to travel the opposite route. With _The Gathering Wilderness_, Primordial have done something different: they have opted for a less polished, harsher sound (courtesy of Billy Anderson, of Neurosis fame); but they have also toned down the aggression on most of the album and brought back much of the tragic feel of old -- what was becoming a minority in their albums has grown back into a majority, only now it lives inside a rather different soundscape.
On _The Gathering Wilderness_, Primordial revisit old themes and remain unsurprisingly attached to the Celtic and Pagan elements that have always carried their black metal to a different level. In truth, there are no great changes in their music; they only balanced things a bit differently, and worked within a new sonic environment -- a more natural sounding one that suits them very well indeed. The kind of brilliance that created songs such as "The Soul Must Sleep" a few years ago is still all here, as seen on a number of passages throughout the album, and most remarkably on the incredibly powerful and tense "The Coffin Ships". Alan Nemtheanga's vocals are as intense as ever -- or even more so, to the extent that some will find he oversings a couple of passages, but his performance is excellent and the feeling it carries is quite incredible. Although his potent blackened snarls have by no means been abandoned, there is more clean singing than on the last album, and more variety as well. The guitars and drums are every bit as unique, distinctive and excellent as one has come to expect from Primordial, and it all comes together as admirably as ever. The songwriting works on the contrast of morose passages and outbursts of anger, and maintains a pleasantly free roaming approach without becoming a meandering mess.
In my view, this is Primordial at their most confident and mature to date. While it is impossible for me to pick an absolute favourite album of theirs, I think this is their strongest, most consistent collection of songs -- matched by sound and packaging in a way that had never been repeated after _A Journey's End_. It may take longer to grow on you than some of their previous albums, but it's well worth it. Whether or not you will find _The Gathering Wilderness_ Primordial's crowning achievement, it remains an excellent record that presents some novelties without departing from their successful route. _The Gathering Wilderness_ is an outstanding album full of character and intensity, not to be missed; definitely one of the best albums to be released in 2005.
by: Pedro Azevedo (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 10/3/2005)
[size=3]To The Nameless Dead - 2007 (Limited Edition)[/size]
CD1 - To The Nameless Dead
1. Empire Falls [08:02]
2. Gallows Hymn [05:55]
3. As Rome Burns [09:15]
4. Failures Burden [06:37]
5. Heathen Tribes [08:18]
6. The Rising Tide [01:33]
7. Traitors Gate [06:49]
8. No Nation On This Earth [08:13]
Total playing time: 54:42
CD 2 - Live at Rock Hard Open Air 2006
1. The Golden Spiral
2. The Gathering Wilderness
3. Sons Of The Morrigan
4. The Coffin Ships
5. Song Of The Tomb
6. Gods To The Godless
Total playing time: 44:04
There is something devastatingly beautiful and tragic about Primordial's music, and it has been present since their very first album. It was probably _Imrama_'s "Fuil Ársa" that captured the interest of many, with the acoustic guitars intermixed in the black pagan metal shredding. With a steady increase in the quality of their output, an almost stubborn perseverance to sticking to the music and concepts they find inspiring, and never giving in to their apparent success and use it to cash in with something less elaborate yet more palatable to the consuming masses, Primordial also earned the respect of both fans and press. _The Gathering Wilderness_ was a brilliant album whichever way you dissect it, and has rightfully garnered almost unanimous praise and ended up being the 2006 album of the year in many lists, not least of all in CoC.
There is always a slight worry as to where a band can go after they reach a new peak. _To the Nameless Dead_ starts off more or less where the last album ended and expands further on those aesthetics. Whereas _The Gathering Wilderness_ was perhaps drenched in despair and darkness, _To the Nameless Dead_, despite the bleak title, offers more hope than its predecessor. Kierkegaard defines the opposite of despair as faith, and mayhap one can say that Nemtheanga's lyrics emphasise a feeling of hope and faith towards life and people this time around.
The album retains the harshness of their previous effort, but the aggression is upped a notch or two, and this is non the more evident than in "Traitor's Gate", which harkens back to their early steps, being surprisingly grim and violent. Double bass drumming, intricate black metal guitars and suitably harsh vocals, filtered through Primordial's sense of melody and tragic emotion, all add up to more than the sum of its parts. Almost the same feeling emanates elsewhere, in personal favourite "Gallows Hymn". A slow, almost militaristic prolonged start gives way to one of the most devastatingly (there is that notion again) haunting guitar melodies.
The rest of the tracks are more akin to the traditional Primordial sound, doomy with a hint of Irish folk, all around eight minutes long with plenty of acoustic guitars that often act as tapestries beneath the electric ones. Opener "Empire Falls" is somewhat atypical in that it contains several moments of more traditional metal riffing. "As Rome Burns" collects all the elements that make Primordial such a unique band and throws them to the listener bit by bit, with Nemtheanga's vocals showing another improvement in range and emotion. The track builds upon several guitar themes and then half way through deconstructs into its basic elements, only to crush down again with all the momentum it has build. Elsewhere, "Heathen Tribes" expands even more on the band's ability to construct melodies on the acoustic guitars and blend them with electric guitar riffs. Nemtheanga also uses a lot more of his clear vocals here.
Special mention should be given to the quality of the packaging, especially the limited edition first cut of the album, which comes in a gorgeous digibook format with a thick booklet that contains plenty of extra photos and artwork, together with lyric notes by Nemtheanga for every song. There is also an a bonus CD of their performance at the 2007 Rock Hard Festival, which contains six tracks and is well worth the listen. The extra touches in the art direction are not only evident, but give the sense of a band that cares about the complete package of their release and should be appreciated by the audience.
Truly one of the best albums of the year and at least as good as _The Gathering Wilderness_, Primordial have once more outdone themselves. Excellent musicianship, heartfelt and emotional concepts delivered with passion and honesty. Themes of yearning, loss, hope and struggle. Music that stirs the soul. You cannot want for anything more.
by: Kostas Sarampalis (Chronicles of Chaos)
(article submitted 2/12/2007)