Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
25 April 2011
by Tom Dare
Part of Primordial’s enduring appeal is their distinctiveness within a genre where sounding like everyone else is all too often worn like a badge of honour. Obviously another part is that they have released scorchingly brilliant records, both in recent times and stretching back into their long career. Four years on from the peat-encrusted diamond that was To The Nameless Dead, the long wait for a follow up is now at an end, with Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand emerging from the mists of Eire.
Another crucial component of what makes Primordial special is one key difference between themselves and most of their peers- particularly the Scandinavian ones. Black metal is an inherently esoteric, elitist beast that not only does not bother trying to make you like it, but goes out of its way to put you off. It exists to be the other, to be the offensive and oppositional – but undeniably powerful – offspring of its heritage. Those bands to have broken with that and played remotely accessible music have been largely divisive, many seen as compromising or – even worse – trying to be commercial.
Primordial’s genius is to be pure and undiluted, to be true to themselves rather than a close-minded set of “rules”, and to do so in a manner that offers far more to the everyman than most aloof, objectionable black metal. And on Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand, they keep that very human aspect of their music firmly out in front once more.
That said, at times this is a far bleaker and more savage affair than they have released in more recent times, and crucially the gloom feels very immediate. While lyrically still replete with events of the past, at no point does this feel distant or removed. Perhaps the manner in which most of the world seems to have gone from bad to shit to worse since they last released a record is part of it, but the feel of the guitar work – and of course AA Nemtheanga’s remarkable voice – is one of suffering in the present, not the distant mists of history. Whether delivering the famous melodic wail or the shriek that is more prominent here than for some time, the mournings of ages seem to flow forth from your speakers and draw on the troubles of our times like no other singer can.
Listen to ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ by Primordial:
While this perhaps does not form itself into the immediate landmark songs of the now-classic To The Nameless Dead did (don’t expect another ‘Empire Falls‘ or ‘Heathen Tribes‘, because it isn’t that kind of record), the effect of both the individual tracks and the album as a whole is soul-destroying in its power. It may take a little time and be a little different in its merits than recent albums, but the end result of Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand is the sound of Primordial triumphing again. Their place right at the pinnacle of Irish metal seems to remain firm.
Sounds like: old Enslaved, Winterfylleth, Bathory
Top tracks: Bloodied Yet Unbowed, The Mouth Of Judas, Death Of The Gods
Primordial – Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand tracklisting:
No Grave Deep Enough
Lain With The Wolf
Bloodied Yet Unbowed
God’s Old Snake
The Mouth Of Judas
The Black Hundred
The Puritan’s Hand
Death Of The Gods