To The Nameless Dead
posted on 11/2007 By:
“Where is the fighting man…?”
In recent years, the popularity of bands branding themselves ‘folk metal’ has grown exponentially. Many (if not all) of this genre’s practitioners are of the European persuasion, relying on traditional musical elements to enhance whatever blackened death/hybrid-whathaveyou sound they propagate. Alas, many of these groups place their onus on spectacle and quirk. So, as a disclaimer to those unfortunate readers out there that are heretofore unfamiliar with Primordial’s music: When one refers to them as Celtic Folk Metal, don’t draw parallels to anything reliant on gimmicky instrumentation, sword-brandishing bravado, or the influence of a band like Skyclad. In contrast, Primordial is pure soul; their folk element is inherent as the blood that flows through their veins. They also wield the critical element that makes folk music important in the first place: They craft songs with the purpose of storytelling, creating sprawling tales of history and Nationhood with the purpose of bringing relevance to a global society that is mired in apathy. To The Nameless Dead is a valorous statement, a monumental album of unmatched defiance and pride that implores the apathetic masses to rise from their slumber. Oh, and it rocks, too.
To The Nameless Dead is a natural continuation in style from their previous release, 2005’s beautifully oppressive The Gathering Wilderness. By the band’s own admission, this album carries a sliver of hope on its back that was missing from its wholly grim predecessor, while still maintaining their unmistakably unique sound. And that sound…doomy, blackrooted, and powerfully Irish, is punctuated (defined?) by the vocals of AA Nemtheanga. Arguably metal’s most dominating frontman in the live arena, he undoubtedly proves to be one of the genre’s most vital on this release. Simultaneously enraged and anguished, he delivers line after poetic line like a 10-foot-tall, convulsing rock-beast would after emerging from the soil. It is an emotionally raw and triumphant delivery…as fellow scribe Matt Mooring put it, he sounds “simultaneously sad and proud”. Imploring the world on behalf of those who died before him, his voice is enough to pluck the dead from the grave. His lyrical vision is world-weary, hopeful, and of unmatched intensity; and to cut through the bullshit, another vocalist of this character simply does not exist. That he helms a band of this caliber is a fortunate turn of consequence.
Thankfully, for all the serious atmosphere they exude, Primordial doesn’t fall victim to any self-important pratfalls, as their collective fist remains raised to the metal gods. This band has survived for nearly fifteen years, and the fact that they’ve undergone minimal lineup shifts shines through in their sound; they brandish a symbiotic connection that breeds warmth and cohesion. Much like Dark Tranquillity, they display a level of fluid mastery that is only achievable by veterans with intimate knowledge of their bandmates. To use the tired cliché, they march like a well-oiled machine. However, nothing about their sound is mechanical; rather, they sound as if perched on a mountain’s peak with eyes to the sky, covered with blood and earth. Melding their black metal roots with their textured, epic approach to a degree heretofore unmatched, they have crafted the closest thing to a flawless album a band could hope for.
One could pick apart each track, as if this were a normal review of a normal band. The microcosm’d epic “Empire Falls”, the sorrowful soul-search of “Gallows Hymn”, the ultra-intense fist-smasher “No Nation On This Earth”….whatever. Primordial didn’t merely ‘go through the motions’, so I won’t either. This is a band of legendary mettle, a paragon of strength that stands head and shoulders above nearly all. Primordial do not fit into preconceived notions of subgenres, nor are they concerned with such trivialities. They simply exude the essence of true folk music, in that they forge a dialogue with the listener that transcends mere entertainment, and serves to educate and uplift through the baring of their souls. This, quite possibly, is the greatest album of 2007, so do yourself a favor and purchase this monolith, posthaste, because this is an experience that cannot be properly conveyed in words. In doing so, you’ll not only be supporting what will be historically known as one of the most important bands of our generation, but you’ll be defiantly showing the powers-that-be at Metal Blade that honesty, intensity, and passion are the virtues that are truly crucial to this lifestyle we lead. We are all ‘the fighting man’, and we must rise.
“No compromise…not then, not now, not ever.”
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