Over the course of an approximate thirty-year existence, Ireland’s Primordial have continually proven themselves to be a truly special entity in the world of metal. Very few artists evoke such powerful imagery; whether it being of mythology or the world closer to home, nor capture such vivid emotional range from desolation to the more uplifting whilst all the while feeling truly genuine. Their sound ranges from Black, Doom and more traditional Metal in a way that is truly their own and has seen them at the peak of their powers on the recent album run of Redemption At The Puritans Hand and Where Greater Men Have Fallen.
Such a run was always going to be difficult to live up to, but even so, it is sad to say that latest album Exile Amongst The Ruins (all Metal Blade) is very disappointing.
Having developed and perfected their own niche, arguably more so on recent albums, Exile… was never going to deviate far this core sound, and as the likes of Motörhead have shown this is no bad thing at all. In fact, Exile starts off very well, with album opener ‘Nail Their Tongues’ being both a rabble-rousing anthem and possessing a furious streak with the blasting mid-section. Unfortunately, this is as much a high as this album delivers, as, otherwise Exile… seems to lack the magic of previous.
Primordial albums are rarely immediate and normally take several focused listens before their true majesty manifests as sweeping journeys and captivating tales. Here, though, even after repeated listens, it all just feels dull, and rather than feeling immersed in epic soundscapes and tales the long-playing nature of these songs becomes all the more noticeable.
Ever one of metal’s most captivating and ever superb vocalists, A.A. Nemtheanga has a prowess for storytelling and his performance once again is phenomenal throughout; equal parts a commanding general and passionate storyteller; yet sadly even he cannot elevate these songs beyond mediocrity. Primordial cannot be denied their legendary status, and even the greatest bands are allowed the odd duff album, yet even in this case Exile… is far from the worst album you will hear all year and certainly has its moments.
Ultimately, however, their latest offering fails to generate any real emotional response and is guilty of that worst artistic crime – of being forgettable. Especially after such a brilliant creative streak,
Exile feels like a band treading water.