Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Metal Blade Records/Rocket Distribution
Reviewed By Simon Crawley
A third consecutive gem from the Dubliners
Folk metal is somewhat the black sheep of the family. While its siblings of thrash, death, and black dominate mealtime conversation, folk metal broods at the end of the table; pensive and philosophical. With patience and the proper consideration, time spent with it can be greatly rewarding. Ireland’s Primordial is without question one of the best folk metal bands around and with a career spanning over 20 years and eight studio albums, they are also one of the very few who continue to grow and mature from one outstandingly well crafted album to the next. 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand was easily one of that year’s best releases and the trend is set to continue as we approach the end of 2014 and welcome the arrival of Where Greater Men Have Fallen.
For the recording of their eighth full-length studio album, the quintet of Alan Averill (a.k.a. A. A. Nemtheanga) (vocals), Ciáran MacUiliam (guitars), Michael O’Floinn (guitars), Pól MacAmlaigh (bass), and Simon O’Laoghaire (drums) put themselves up at the very picturesque and tranquil Grouse Lodge just over an hour away from Dublin with previous patrons including the likes of Michael Jackson, Muse and Snow Patrol. The album was produced and engineered by Jaime Gomez Arellano, who Primordial also worked with on Redemption. The final result is a powerfully moving collection of songs that plunge you deep into the band’s purported atmosphere of pain and despair. Just like a morning mist over a bloodied battlefield, the sound achieved on Greater Men is vast and dense with an organic energy that reveals an epic story beneath its weight.
A. A. Nemtheanga is once again a master story teller, driving every possible shade of anguish deep into your conscience. His vocal capacity is incredibly diverse and he absolutely nails his performance on this album. The songwriting from MacUiliam and O’Floinn on guitar brings good variability this time around which goes a long way in easing the intensity which so often makes Primordial albums hard to digest. The official video for “Babel’s Tower” was recently released and while this is a great song, be sure to take in the entire album and pay particular attention to the title track, “Come the Flood” and “Ghosts of the Charnel House”. The emotional landscape which A. A. Nemtheanga creates on “Come the Flood” is spectacular and is backed by some of the finest songwriting to be written by the band to date, with O’Laoghaire’s drumming deserving special mention in this regard.
This year has produced a ton of great new work from some of metal’s top acts and this new album from the Irishmen is unquestionably one of the best. With the release of three consecutive gems now in To the Nameless Dead (2007), Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (2011), and Where Greater Men Have Fallen, there really is no disputing Primordial’s very valuable place in heavy metal today.