Seas of black took over the freshly renovated Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, with ‘epic’ being the best word to describe the night at hand. With an epic pub; keeping in mind that its history dates back to the 1830’s, and an epic bill of Godzilla proportions.
For those early birds who get the worm and devour it of its goodness, the perks of arriving at a concert earlier rather than later reaped its rewards in the form of a meet and great with the mighty Primordial.
Signing tour posters at the merch stand and having conversations with fans, coming across most humble. Excited to be in Australia for the first time, when asked when we will be seeing a new record, long-time guitarist Ciáran MacUiliam laughs responding, “That’s a good question,” hinting “In March, as we like to have a four-year gap between albums.” This formula seems to work wonders as the most recent Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014) is nothing short of a masterpiece.
First on the bill were local act Bane of Isildur who shared their brand of Triumphant War Metal with the masses. Having supported the heavy artillery of Amon Amarth, Alestorm, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Rotting Christ, Enslaved and Destroyer 666 it is no wonder why this group of talented musicians has gained opening slot of the night.
The short set focuses mainly on Black Wings (2010) opening with The War of Gods and Men which is followed by the opening track of the aforementioned LP, Chosen Path. The guitar duo lead by vocalist Aaron Worboys and Matthew Bell strike down guitar wizardry in the form of ringing solos and bone crunching riffs. The pummelling bass of Ray McGill grooves to the blistering beats of session drummer, George Delinicolis. An absolute behemoth behind the kit, having worked with the likes of Bastardizer, Fenrir, and Exekute, the presence of such a talent fits like a glove.
Title track off the EP …and the Earth Becomes Aflame (2013) goes down well with the eager crowd before closing with another from the debut LP, that being Furious Hunt. Those who had never heard the Sydney-siders before were now converted with a trek towards the merch stand in tow.
Adelaide residents, Abstract the Light soon took the stage with their blend of Avant-Garde Black Metal, much like a lethal cocktail it hit the audience with four tracks of melodic, progressive and eccentric slabs of mayhem. The breakneck speed of drummer Brody Green opened the gateways of Hell and the Gateways to Sulphur Chrysalis, in this case, which opened the set to welcoming cheers.
The voice behind the madness, Ben Sheehan was accompanied on guitar by Matt Brown who bounced off each other’s riffs like a raging bull taking out the matador. The frantic bass playing of Ben Veniamin had a certain thickness in comparison to vegemite that would just not spread. Ending a tight set, the same way it opened, with another track from the EP, From out of the Void (2016), Stone on a rock, Abstract the Light proved to be a good choice as there was going to be no calm before the storm tonight.
Hailing from Melbourne were Nocturnal Graves whose brand of metal takes pages from the death, thrash and black metal genres and combines them into one satanic bible of sounds. With a stellar line-up of former musicians from Destroyer 666, Hobbs’ Angel of Death and Destruktor, the lads don’t miss a note from the get-go. Energy is given off front-man Nuclear Exterminator (Jarro Raphael) and it seems to alternate back and forth from the stage to the crowd as raging headbangers come close to the need of neck braces. The rapid speed of L.Wilson behind the kit encourages fast fingers from J on the four-string as Decalylust and Shrapnel deliver endless guitar solos, licks, and thunderous riffs.
Among other stompers from Satan’s Cross (2007) and …from the Bloodline of Cain (2013), both the title tracks are played in all their glory. The most recent EP, Lead Us to the Endless Fire / Sharpen the Knives (2016) goes down well with old and new fans alike.
Handpicked by Primordial along with other home-grown troops were Brisbane-bred Vomitor who gave thrash and death-metal a whole new dirtiness. Featuring former members of Gospel of the Horns, the drum machine Hellkunt and guitarist/vocalist Death Dealer there is no stopping the insanity on display. Add to that additional guitar from Horror Illogium (Portal) and the blistering bass of Anton Vomit.
Prime cuts from Bleeding the Priest (2012), Devils’ Poison (2010) and The Escalation (2012) are represented with tracks taken from the most recent Prayers To Hell (2016) shedding the light of day upon ecstatic punters.
Both Sydney and Melbourne a night prior were in for a treat with Primordial owning the stage for a set close to two hours in which they delved into material from their vast catalogue apart from their debut LP, Imrama (1995). An atmosphere is amidst the venue as the overpowering vocals of frontman A.A. Nemtheanga capture the souls of crazed fans and sends shivers down spines as Where Greater Men Have Fallen becomes a surreal experience, opening the flawless set. Introducing songs with slight banter the vocalist is in fine form ensuring there is… No Grave Deep Enough, being the first of two chosen tracks from Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (2011), with the second being, Bloodied yet Unbowed.
Storm Before Calm (2002) unleashes Sons of the Morrigan while Gods to the Godless is shared from Spirit the Earth Aflame (2000). Autumn’s Ablaze is introduced as a song written a century ago of which the meaning of has been forgotten, taken from the second full-length, A Journey’s End (1998).
The Coffin Ships and The Golden Spiral, both chosen from The Gathering Wilderness (2005), are well-received. Highlights included gems from To the Nameless Dead (2007), the ferocious; As Rome Burns was introduced as hate speech with Gallows Hymn representing growing old. Ending the set with Heathen Tribes and Empire Falls the majority of songs focused on the aforementioned record.
The epic Babel’s Tower and Wield Lighting to Split the Sun stood their ground amongst older material. The title track from the EP, The Burning Season (1999) seemed to be an extra for the Sydney crowd perhaps due to it being the last show for the tour. It had taken Primordial twenty years from the Republic of Ireland to get here Nemtheanga ensured punters, “we are going to keep playing, and we aren’t going to fuck off early.”
To say the band was anything but flawless would be an understatement. The guitar duo of MacUiliam and Micheál O’Floinn provided melodic and heavy hitting riffs as Pól MacAmlaigh worked in unison with Simon O’Laoghaire who approached the drum kit with style and precision.
Forget your Bono led-U2, real music from Ireland goes by the name of Primordial. Tonight just showed that Australian talent is World Class in itself, throw in an influential international act and the metal scene is at its peak.