posted on 4/2009 By:
Primordial are a band who need no introduction. I’m sure you’ve read that in plenty of reviews, but I can’t think of a better candidate to which that statement applies (for those who know them, at least). Their consistency is admirable, their passion is unmatched, and their brand of inspiring epic folk metal is almost unfailingly awesome. Everyone well-versed in the outfit's discography already knows this, but if there is one Primordial album that always seems to get lost in the shuffle of the band’s most celebrated releases, its Imrama. In fact, from some of the talk I’ve heard there are people who almost dismiss this record as “formative,” and not up to par with the bands following efforts. I for one can’t comprehend this viewpoint; this debut lives up to the band’s high standards with authority, and possesses a gloomy atmospheric quality that stands out from anything else this brilliant collective has graced us with.
In fact, fans that grew attached to the band during the Gathering Wilderness/To The Nameless Dead era may be surprised at how dark and genuinely dispirited Imrama sounds. Don't get me wrong, Primordial have always walked a downtrodden path, but never again would they sound so grim and cryptic. The atmosphere created here is very hard to put into words; at times, it’s triumphant (“Let The Sun Set On Life Forever”), at others it’s downright frightening (“To The Ends of the Earth”). Primordial has never been a black metal band, but this is definitely the closest they’ve come, and while this record doesn’t sound too far removed from the rest of the band’s discography style-wise, it’s the delivery that sets it apart.
The opening trio of “Fuil Arsa,” “Infernal Summer,” and “Here I Am King” quickly dispel any notions that Primordial were still finding their footing at this stage. The incredible power that these musicians are able to summon through their fairly simplistic compositions is a rare gift, and while the production on Imrama is a tad murky, the quality of the songs speak for themselves. Instrumental dynamics are reigned in beautifully thanks to the superb drumming of Simon O'Laoghaire (easily one of metal’s most underrated drummers), and Nemtheanga’s trademark blend of fiery aggression and elegant singing is instantly recognizable and unquestionably formidable even at this stage. His increased use of blackened screams sounds right at home with this album’s depressive vibe, and his unrestrained passion never fails to be compelling even when his voice doesn't take center stage.
Metal Blade really nailed this re-issue, too. The artwork and packaging is beautiful and the band’s debut demo, Dark Romanticism, is included along with some great old concert footage. The band’s first four albums will apparently all receive this treatment in the near future, and if they all look this nice, it could very well be worth it for die-hard fans to plunk down the cash. Bottom line: don’t let Imrama pass you by. It’s a great look at the roots of one of modern metal’s greatest bands, and an excellent record in its own right.
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Redemption at the Puritans Hand
Storm Before Calm (Reissue)
Spirit The Earth Aflame (Reissue)
A Journey's End (Reissue)
To The Nameless Dead
The Gathering Wilderness
Storm Before Calm