Where Greater Men Have Fallen
24 November 2014
by Pete Long
It is impossible to discuss Primordial without talking about the music’s emotion as much as the music itself. Pride, grief, rage; these things meld into each other and every note, giving the band a resonance and sincerity that politicians and Christmas adverts alike would kill for. Where Greater Men Have Fallen is very much in the same vein as its predecessors, and for a band of Primordial’s consistency, that can only be a good thing.
Their sound remains the same; a strong debt to Hammerheart-era Bathory, mixed with a subtle yet omnipresent folk influence. It’s immediately recognisable from the opening rumble of the title track, a typically powerful lament for war’s losses and futility. The end result is akin to doom metal on anti-depressants, particularly on ‘Ghosts of the Charnel House’, the heaviest song on the record. It’s even perhaps comparable instead to post-metal with its dark, dense soundscapes that patiently build to explosive peaks. It’s a sign that Primordial have added a greater variety to this album.
Even when the band deliver a straight throwback to their black metal beginnings (as they do with‘The Seed of Tyrants’), Primordial have enough drama and power to cut through any tedium that could’ve come with falling back on one of their more signature styles. Producer Jaime Gomez Arellano has put a bit more oomph behind the band and while that might come at the expense of a little clarity for Simon O’Laoghaire’s cymbals, most fans won’t complain. But what it comes down to is solid songwriting, mucisianship, and Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill’s captivating vocals, a mix of bellow and chant that pulses with emotion. They also have the confidence to keep their best until the end. ‘Born to Night’ has a slow start that makes the main riff all the more ferocious and throughout has the bleakness that characterised The Gathering Wilderness. It closes with the cathartic ‘Wield Lightning to Split the Sun’, a song that should make anyone feel the size of a mountain.
Arguably, Primordial should be one of the most treasured bands in metal today. One reason is their ability to express the alienation that lies close to the heart of metal, the anger that stands at the best of the genre. Another is their ability to churn out great albums, and Where Greater Men Have Fallen is just about as good an example of this as it gets.
Sounds Like: The funeral for an entire army set to Bathory.
Standout Tracks: Wield Lightening to Split the Sun, The Seed of Tyrants, Where Greater Men Have Fallen