Primordial
Imrama (Deluxe Edition)

I was only recently introduced to Ireland’s Primordial by way of 2005s The Gathering Wilderness and 2007s To the Nameless Dead, and only in the last month or so have I had a chance to go back and check out the Candlelight reissues of 2000s Spirit the Earth Aflame and 2002s Storm Before Calm. However, their debut has eluded me until Metal Blade thankfully gave it the re-issue treatment.

Originally released back in 1995 on the UKs Cacophonous Records (one of my favorite 90s labels responsible for early seminal releases by Cradle of Filth, Sigh, Dimmu Borgir and Gehenna and Bal- Sagoth), Imrama sees the band as rough as you’d expect compared to their output over a decade later, and things are a little ‘blacker’ (especially in the vocal department), but even in 1995 you hear the band’s epic take on Celtic themed metal and their grasp of austere and cragged grandiosity. Even with Nemtheanga’s more commonplace blacked screech, he still delivers plenty of the despondent, pained croons he’s now known for.

The fact Primordial, with literally a couple of exceptions, have had the same line up since their inception shows as you listen to Imrama and To The Nameless Dead one after another and instantly recognize the structures and atmosphere as well as the over arching feeling the band imbues then and now: somber and rugged but epic soundscapes of Celtic heathenry and a primal, beauty. Tracks like “Fuil Ársa”, “The Darkest Flame”, “The Fires…” “To the Ends of the Earth”, Celtic interlude “Beneath a Bronze Sky”  and the superb “Awaiting the Dawn” all have the now trademark Primordial sound, if albeit a bit more discordant than their recent output. Blacker, more raw tracks like “Here I am King”, “Let the Sun Set on Life Forever”, and and the four demo tracks show the expected early stages of a band still developing their balance, though still notably different from a lot of the black metal being plied in 1995.

I can’t comment on the re-mastering as I never heard the original version, but everything sounds polished, though not on par with the last two releases. But as with Metal Blade’s recent Amon Amarth re-issues the repackaging is top notch. There are bonuses abound. And the bonuses on this deluxe edition include the 1993 Dark Romanticism demo and a grainy but nostalgic (as well as a long haired, corpse painted Nemtheanga) track DVD of a 1994 live show in Cork, Ireland,  where two of the demo tracks (“To Enter Pagan” and “Among the Lazarai”) and three tracks from Imrama (“Let the Sun Set on Life Forever”, “The Fires” and “The Darkest Flame”) are played live.

However, with planned re-issues of Journeys End, Spirit the Earth Aflame and Storm Before Calm, Metal Blade had give those efforts the same excellent re-issue treatment as Imrama to make  previous re-issues by Candlelight and Hammerheart redundant.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 24th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Vance

    One of the best bands around, they write some great music and have some very intelligent, thought provoking, heathen lyrics. I think as time goes on these guys get better and better. It’s great for you guys to review their early works.

    Great Review as always.


  2. Commented by: Grimulfr

    they are one of a few bands that I have been with since the very beginning that have undergone such incredible growth in talent and changes in direction yet have never left me behind as a fan


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