Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
A folk metal sermon that is louder than all the rest
"If I had to sum this album up I would say this is the 'death' album. Plain and simple. There isn't exactly a whole concept but many of the themes deal with mortality, how we deal with it”, states frontman Alan Nemtheanga regarding Primordial's latest upcoming album, 'Redemption at the Puritan's Hand’. Like many of Primordial's heavy hitting, yet very organic folk/pagan metal releases, the album is just as esoteric as the others, but perhaps the most esoteric and dark of them all. While 'To the Nameless Dead' had a bit of a political and national touch to it, 'Redemption..’. is an album that everyone can relate to, on any level... if they dare to listen. For those not familiar with Primordial, it is a unique experience. They mix heavy, atmospheric guitars with lush acoustic melodies, thundering drums, and convincing vocals that are melodic, warbling cleans to harsh, black metal styled snarls. A lot of critics say that folk metal is just another form of melodic black or death metal, and Primordial do the best they can to distance themselves from this notion.
'Redemption..’. is more like a sermon if anything; much of the clean vocal work by Alan sets the stage for him to be seen like he is raging on a pulpit. However, he is isn't preaching damnation in this album, he's preaching/snarling about life's juxtaposition with death, amongst soft, acoustic bits such as with "No Grave Deep Enough" to bombastic, crushing metal tunes like "God's Old Snake”. His voice certainly suits the role, and some may know him for his guest spot with Marduk's 'Rom 5:12' album, where he basically played the role of an inquisitor. Of course, he can perform quite the visceral roar too, which is not too deep or too high while being understandable enough. Of course, Primordial are also about atmosphere, and there is plenty of it on this album. Some of the tracks may even seem slower, almost doom or groove metal like with how the riffs chug along on a track like "The Mouth of Judas”.
For those seeking some straightforward blackened folk metal, especially due to the seamless guitar flow and almost inhumane drumming, check out "The Black Hundred”. Here, one can really hear Alan's vengeance in his voice and it sounds even more terrifying when he's usually just 'ranting’. The final track of the album doesn't really close on a memorable number; rather it brings everything full circle by sounding a bit too much like the first track, which also starts out acoustically and then switches over to the heavier, yet melodic sole guitar notes that tend to stand out throughout the chaos. Here, though, Alan really does seem to preach with a very dark, serious, and storytelling tone in his spoken word format compared to his usual singing. As a result, compared to previous work from Primordial, 'Redemption..’. still may not seem as organic as an album like 'Calm Before the Storm’. There are no instrumentals here as interludes, such as on their last album, 'To the Nameless Dead’.
However, it is safe to say that Primordial have reached a whole new level of epic-ness; each track is a lengthy, but worthy, listen. Thankfully, it isn't monotonous listening, like some doom or funeral doom bands tend to be. However, listeners should be warned that the material here is dense, not only in time signature but also lyrical themes. Who said listening to this band was easy? They don't mean to make it easy at all. One has to earn their listen to really grasp this band. It's heavy- both on the ear and mind- but really worth a shot for those who want to hear something different from the usual 'folk metal' out there that tends to sound more like black metal than anything else. This is just as grim, and vastly more meaningful. Primordial hardly ever seem to disappoint.
(Metal Blade Records/Riot! Entertainment)