Smoke drifts through the trees like a premonition. Everywhere the scent of burning pine, so sharp it stings. Tongues of flame lick at rotting timber; an inrush of wind stokes the glow on the horizon. Everything burns. The rains come too late to save anything worth saving, and what’s left in the end? Soggy ash, smoking ruins, devastation wrought. And … scene.
This is classic pagan metal imagery, part of a grand lineage passed down through the generations by the Promethean progenitors of this sound, Bathory (see Hammerheart and Blood Fire Death), and given to their spiritual descendants, a role embodied better than anyone by the long-running Irish metal band Primordial. Over the past 20 years — Primordial formed in 1987 but didn’t release an album until 1995’s Imrama — Primoridal have evolved from an almost-black metal band into something far more special, tapping their Celtic roots and drawing on various forms of heavy metal to create a hybrid style like no other. Their latest album, Where Greater Men Have Fallen, marks another leap forward as they borrow the weight and muscle of traditional doom and fuse it with traditional pagan metal (not unlike Agalloch’s The Serpent & The Sphere). It might be their best.
Frontman Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) is a firebrand, channeling a mythic vision of humanity’s pain through a personal lens of frustration, resulting in a swaggering, staggering bellow that would sound absurd out of context, but instead comes off absurdly powerful. It’s pure theater, but closer to Macbeth than anything else. “Come The Flood” is the second single off Where Greater Men Have Fallen, following the crushing title track, which came out a couple weeks back. “Come The Flood” takes a different tack, lacing jangling minor-key guitars and spoken word throughout its 7-minute runtime before exploding in the second half, embodying the biblical fire and cathartic rain it describes with sonic force. Like the first single, the results are beyond what we’ve come to expect from … anything, really. Listen.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen is out 11/25 via Metal Blade.