Bloodied and Unbowed

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Since 2005 Ireland’s Primordial have become the indisputable kings of Irish metal. And not only that, you could argue that Primordial have become one of the biggest bands in metal, with past albums consistently littering year end lists whether its 2005’s watershed album, The Gathering Wilderness, 2007’s To The Nameless Dead or 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, the bands seems able to do no wrong in the eyes of the metal masses and media.

And at the tail end of 2014, the band continued their marvelous run with Where Greater Men Have Fallen, the band/s eighth overall album and 4th for Metal Blade. An album that sees a steadfast continuation of the bands craggy, epic metal that has developed wondrously since the bands early more raw black metal roots and Celtic themes. And front man A.A Nemtheanga AKA Alan Averill, has led the charge becoming one of the more recognizable front men in metal with his amazing croons. So I caught up with A.A to delve more in the success of Primordial

So here is the 4th album since 2002- and it seems you guys can do no wrong- how hard is it keeping up with the high standard you have set over the last decade?

I don’t know we just do as we do, nothing much has changed with us since the beginning of the band, we still rehearse the same way only the technology to record it has changed a bit. from old tape recorders to phones. we still meet, argue and fight til the songs take shape. i think we are our own biggest critics which helps and also not a professional band so we don’t have the pressure to make an album every 12-18 months.

I know it was your 5th album, but 2005s The Gathering Wilderness seems to be where the watershed album as far as coming out and being an elite act, and not just and Irish black metal band- what changed between Storm Over Calm and The Gathering Wilderness?

We signed to metal blade is probably the main reason. Hammerheart records had collapsed before that and we had all reached the end of the road with them. we definitely took a step up but probably to the nameless dead is the real watershed album, the perfect storm which allowed us to take a step out from the shadows into the mainstream. storm before calm is a strange album, i still think there are some great songs on there but we needed some reinvention and re evaluation.

For 4 albums now you guys have really honed on on a specific sound that’s pretty well unique- is there any concern that you guys might be treading water? is there a internal need to experiment more or are you happy with the sound you’ve perfected?

No not really. Primordial is not a band that’s going to have an electronic phase or introduce female vocals or turn into Pink Floyd. did Black Sabbath have an acoustic phase? this is where we are with Primordial, Sabbath style. I don’t feel confined or restricted by metal. we just write songs. we have also created our own signature sound, no one sounds like us so as far as I’m concerned we can do what we want with that.

That being said I hear a little more development on the new album- there’s some straight up rock  some more doom- is there more coming?

I find that kinda puzzling, if you listen to our debut album ‘imrama‘ the opening track is straight up rock 4/4 style? we have always had this black/rock via Sabbath/Maiden feeling to what we have done, we’ve just evolved as musicians and people. I’m only interested in the worth of a song that sounds full of blood and thunder. nothing more really.

Is there a central theme to the new album? it seems you guys and you amazing vocals/lyrics would be ripe for a pure concept album.

The last two were more conceptual, there is a loose theme of shattered hopes, empty promises and dead rhetoric if you want to tie some of them in together. i traced a line from the end of the 19th century and the promise of industrial and technological evolution which brought the world to WW1 and 100 years later examined where the states and nations that made war were, and taking a look around the world it would seem the world is in a dark place. the tone of the album may feel on one level resigned to defeat but it recognises there is still a war that needs to be fought and the future is only going to be darker and more desperate still.

Vocally you have absolutely become one of the top vocalists in metal- what promoted the change to the clean vocals 4-5 albums ago and move completely from the blacker style?

Again, if you listen to our debut there are clean vocals all over it? perhaps even 25%+, move on to ‘journeys end’ and you will find clean vocals make up the main part of that album so I have no idea where you get this from? If you ask me the new albums are blacker, bleaker and far more grim then the first few. As for the vocal thing in general? you just learn, adapt and evolve and add new weapons to the arsenal.

There are some more intense vocal moment on the new album- was it fun going to back style?

I always try and add a few more as I said weapons to the arsenal. More styles and inflections, to me the technicalities are not as important as simply meaning it. You want to do things with utter conviction and of course if you mean what you say and say what you mean then this is how it should be…

You are involved in a couple of other projects Blood Revolt and Twilight of the Gods- both use you Primordial vocal style mainly- any desire to get into a pure black metal venom/bathory cover style projects and just shriek again?

Not especially…count Dread Sovereign also, my doom band who released an album on Van records this year where I play bass as well. I mean a part of me would like make a ripping old black/speed metal band perhaps with vocals like that but you know I never viewed myself as great in that style, they are just for texture, you have to find the heart of every song and see what voice fits.

You guys are easily the premier Irish metal acts- what other Irish band bands are lurking in the eaves that might be ready to break out soon?

Sure of course, Zom, Malthusian, Vircolac, Mourning Beloveth, Darkest era, Wizards of Firetop Mountain loads of bands, just follow the bandcamp trail and take a look!

Any tour plans to support the new album?I know you are due to play maryland deathfest? How excited are you for such a large US festival? Would you rather play those or smaller irish venues? 

Smaller irish venues? we play perhaps 1 show every couple of years here in a big place, people come to us! yeah we have toured the states twice, hard place to tour, great place and good people but damn hard to make a dent over there. Maryland should be cool of course, we are looking forward to it.

So whats next for Primordial? what else is there to attain and achieve for you personally and as a band?

Just keep going, no compromise. hopefully reach some countries we haven’t over the coming years and bow out with our heads held high.


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