For most the name Primordial is a sign of epic sweeping sagas and immersive folk soaked metal tracks that often span well past the eight minute mark, pulling you deep into an intricately crafted world of Irish folklore. Off the back of their hugely popular 2014 release ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ I had extremely high hopes for their latest release ‘Exile Amongst the Ruins. Such hopes were grounded with the release of an absolutely spectacular music video for the title track. Easily one of the best music videos I’ve seen so far this year, the overwhelming grimness of the whole affair is gripping beyond belief, the camera work is superb and the subject material, namely the grim fate of many Irish soldiers during the wars, really demands all of your attention and rewards it with some very good music.
In addition to Exile Amongst the Ruins Primordial also released music videos for To Hell or The Hangman, which is a lot faster paced and punchier than what they usually produce. The lead single for this record, Stolen Years, is a most unusual choice at first sight, sitting at a mere five minutes in length it is the shortest track by quite a margin. However diving into the song you can feel the deep emotion coursing through every bar, reminiscent of some of Solstafirs more mournful entries. It’s by no means the most technical or the most expansive but it feels complete and satisfying, just like a lead single should.
Moving into the album you are welcomed in by in ambient intro which nicely sets the scene for what is perhaps not the Irish quintets strongest opening, but by no means a track to be overlooked. Going deeper you find To Hell or the Hangman which is one of the albums strongest offerings portraying a dark tale or romance and murder (which you can read about in the music videos description) beginning the dark and ominous shadow which most of the album abides under. Each track blends pleasantly into the next without too many dramatic changes in pace or atmosphere, a trait that I for one thourly enjoyed.
Quite a few people have discredited the second half of ‘Exile Amongst the Ruins’ as feeling a little unfinished at times, perhaps a touch misguided and struggling to find its footing as it meanders across the final four tracks. And while some of those criticisms have merit I found that the album has certainly grown on me over the last few days of having it on repeat. The deep mournfulness that seems to permeate much of the album does quite a lot to mitigate the flaws that do exist if you look hard enough. A.A. Nemtheanga himself noted that the album was born in hard times unlike ‘Where Greater Men have Fallen’, so the seemingly rough edges are more understandable and in parts even adds to the raw emotion of the overall product.
Throughout the record the musicianship is sublime, Nemtheangas vocals are constantly fantastic, the guitar and bass work is tight and soulful throughout and the drumming is a constant driving force of pure professionalism. The production is pure class, exactly what you would expect to see coming from a band with decades of albums under their belts. And although this record may not be quite what older Primordial fans are used to it is undeniably Primordial through and through.
‘Exile Amongst the Ruin’ is available right now on from their website, (https://www.primordialofficial.com/shop/) iTunes, Google Play and can be listened to on Spotify.