Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Primordial: Redemption at the Puritan's Hand (2011)


At the law firm where I used to practice, they have an annual St. Patrick's day party, starting early so people can go about to their later parties in time. Everyone has a good time until about 7:00. That's when a somewhat noted Irish tenor sings a few songs for everyone, reminding us all of just how stunningly depressing Irish music is, in both melody and lyrical content.

Redemption at the Puritans HandPrimordial, the premier metal band of Ireland, does not stray from that tradition. They play an understated form of pagan metal, informed by black metal and traditional Celtic music played only on traditional metal instruments. The songs speak of loss and living under oppression before the lyrics even begin. But when Nemtheanga starts his throaty song, that's when things go from "decent, run-of-the-mill pagan metal" to "completely unique and essential band".

The band's approach would fail completely with a lesser vocalist. Luckily, they have one of the best in the business. He sings clean most of the time, but his clean voice his pained and gravelly. It's full of conviction, singing about the awful history of Ireland and of other downtrodden people. During "The Black Hundred", you might feel a personal stake in Russia's industrial/Communist revolution.

If you're familiar with the band, you know all of that, and you'll just want to know how it stacks up against their last couple of essential releases. Well, it's no To the Nameless Dead or The Gathering Wilderness, but it's still pretty damn good. There are no surprises, but mostly solid material, although it does drag a little around "The Mouth of Judas".

The Verdict: An expectedly good release from an excellent band, Redemption at the Puritan's Hand should be enough to woo those unfamiliar with the band or to appease long-time fans, but it won't convert anyone who doesn't like their older material (if such a person exists). I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. I humbly disagree. I find this release a solid 5/5, although slightly different, maybe more refined musically than To The Nameless Dead. At first I agree with the fact it did drag around "The Mouth of Judas" but after repeated listens, I found that to be one of the most interesting parts of the album. I love "The Black Hundred" with its drums creating a martial feel. The whole album is quite solid, and the band is tighter than ever, although maybe not as unhinged or spontaneous as their previous releases, perhaps to a detriment. I have also read reviews stating Primordial is "predictable, but solid" and I can see where they're coming from, however that is not my opinion.

    I am 28 and I have been listening to metal since I was 12, and quickly moving from Metallica to Korn to Burzum and Emperor to diving completely underground in short strides. That being said, I love your blog and you've turned me on to many great bands (Mitochondrion, Portal, Dragged Into Sunlight, etc.) I never knew existed. Anyway, that's my two cents. I've been checking this blog regularly for a few months and it never dissapoints. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I very much appreciate it, especially coming as it does on the same day I got a highly critical one on my review of Sonne Adam.

    I can definitely see where you're coming from on this album. I tend not to necessarily prefer tighter, refined releases. As songs go, there is certainly no shortage of good ones here.