Storm Before Calm (Reissue)
posted on 2/2011 By:
If you’ve been hanging around this site long enough, then Primordial is a band you’d better have heard of by now. The reasoning behind this is simple. There hasn’t been another band in the history of Metal Review that has received the amount of praise this band has, at least in my opinion, but quite honestly, the admiration and endless homage has been fully warranted when it comes to this top-tier Celtic-folk-black(ish) metal band from Ireland. Their track record is impeccable; their stature and place in the overall history of heavy metal is stamped and sealed; and as has been stated more than once, if you haven’t jumped on board, or at least taken a gander, you’ve definitely missed out on some great music.
With three high-quality full-length records firmly in place when Storm Before Calm was first released, each of those slabs of pure artistic vision painted the picture of stories of the utmost pain and sorrow. Those records held both musical and literary tales that told of the troubles their native people of Ireland endured over the course of history, and ultimately each album became the canvas for Primordial to progress their sound just enough to produce yet another striking piece of art on each following recording. Simply put: the band gets better and better with each album. The gloomy and somewhat frosty Imrama became the slightly more complicated and technical A Journey’s End, which in turn set the tone for the raised level of musicianship and compositional prowess heard on Spirit the Earth Aflame. Storm was an album that, when put up against its predecessors, was almost new territory for the band, yet as anyone who’s familiar with their catalog of works knows, the main ingredient of folksy attributes has long been a staple of the band’s overall sound.
I’m not saying it was a complete shift in sound for the group, but to say Storm is the easiest of the first four albums to digest, and of the two that followed it for that matter, would be an absolute understatement. The compositions are simply smooth as silk, and whereas the rewards of past albums were worked for by repeated listens, digging deeper and deeper into the consciousness of those discs to unearth each gem you could find, Storm’s effect was immediate and the listening rewards aplenty right from the initial spin. The main reason for this is the further exploration and increased implementation of melodic hooks within the framework of the guitars, which on this album are multi-layered more than ever before. Ciáran MacUiliam almost stole the show on this one, to be frank, as his top-notch guitar work simply amazes throughout, and his songwriting ability at this point in the band's career had grown immensely.
I don’t want to take anything away from lead man Alan Averill, because once again the man brings the pain, literally, and this is yet another strong performance. But I keep getting back to the guitar work on Storm, as it pretty much takes the reigns just as much as Averill does. The blistering, no-need-for-fucking-around blackened opening to "Heretic Ages" is the perfect set-up for the folk-tinged acoustic guitar intro to "Fallen to Ruin", in which, once Averill comes in (Brother!!!!), his presence and command are mesmerizing. His angry, pissed-off ranting in the verse section of "Cast to the Pyre", which eventually leads into yet another massive hook of a chorus, shows once again the amount of ferocious, yet controlled, rage within. The maniacal riffing of "What Sleeps Within" is followed by the folksy acoustic jam "Suns First Rays", perfectly setting the stage for the album's final two songs. "Sons of the Morrigan" sports a beautifully paced dual-harmony-laced jam toward the end, and yes, another truly standout track in "Hosting of the Sidhe" closes things out. Don’t be thrown off by the 3-plus minute intro, peppered with more of Averill’s spoken flourishes. From there on out, with again some absolutely beautiful sounding melodic guitar work charging onward, the ending plunges the song victoriously into Primordial greatness.
If you can’t tell, I really like this album. It’s the first Primordial album I’d ever heard when it was originally released, so I hold it in high regard and think it’s arguably their most important record. I’m not saying it’s their best, but as much as everyone seems to hold The Gathering Wilderness and To the Nameless Dead on pedestals (two great albums in their own right), you don’t get those recordings without this necessary step. All in all, even though the financial struggles they were experiencing at the time between label and studio were troubling, Primordial came away with their best sounding record to date and songs that will go down as some of their finest. Highly recommended!!!
*One thing of note, previous pressings of the album before this version had a misprint with the tracks "What Sleeps Within" and "Suns First Rays" being mistakenly swapped. This has been rectified. This version also comes with a bonus DVD, "Live at Summer Breeze 2004".
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Redemption at the Puritans Hand
Spirit The Earth Aflame (Reissue)
A Journey's End (Reissue)
To The Nameless Dead
The Gathering Wilderness
Storm Before Calm