Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month - Primordial
Band Photo: Primordial (?)
Black metal has certainly come a long way over the years. Starting from the almost sloppy sounding thrash of Venom and Hellhammer, it has incorporated many other elements into its sound as time’s gone by, including traditional folk music, a combination worked to perfection by Irelands own, Primordial. The earliest incarnation of Primordial was formed in 1987 by brothers Pól and Derek MacAmlaigh, along with guitarist Ciáran MacUiliam under the name Forsaken in Skerries, a small seaside town in County Dublin, where they began life by performing covers of popular extreme metal bands such as Death before recruiting vocalist Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) in 1991 and adopting a much darker approach, more inspired by the proto black metal bands of the time such as Celtic Frost and Bathory. The band released a demo in 1993 entitled, "Dark Romanticism" which attracted the attention of numerous labels, including Candlelight, but ultimately it was Cacophonous Records, then home to British extreme metal outfit Cradle Of Filth, who successfully signed the group. Through the label, Primordial released their first album, "Imrama" in 1994. The album was noteworthy for its focus on medieval Irish folklore and use of the Gaelic language, in addition to combining the black metal sound with traditional Irish melodies, becoming one of the first Celtic Metal bands (along with Cruachan and Waylander) in the process. Despite some difficulties faced after the release of the record, including performing only one show in 1996, which was stopped half way through by the police, things began to take an upturn for the band in 1997 when they found a new drummer in Simon O'Laoghaire and performed with the recently reformed Mayhem in the United Kingdom.
The melodic aspect was expanded upon by the time Primordial released its second album, "A Journeys End" through Misanthropy Records in 1998, which featured the use of whistles and mandolins in order to accentuate their nationality and heritage. Right after releasing their sophomore effort, the band had decided that Misanthropy was not the right record label for them, and signed with Hammerheart Records, immediately getting to work on new material, which surfaced a year later in the form of an EP entitled, "The Burning Season," before releasing their third album, "Spirit The Earth Aflame" in 2000. Once their fourth album, "Storm Before Calm" was released, Primordial knew that some changes were needed to be made, and started by recruiting a new guitarist named Michael O Floinn and began the search for a new label, which they found following tours with the likes of Enthroned, Rotting Christ and Ancient Rites, when they signed with Metal Blade Records and got to work on their darkest album yet.
The record in question hit the shelves in 2005 under the name, "The Gathering Wilderness." The record was a critical success and was named Album of the Month by Terrorizer magazine, as well as appearing on several Top Ten lists of the year. Primordial continued to perform at festivals all across Europe and take part in small tours, before finally being booked to play in the United States for the first time in 2006, when they took part in The Heathen Crusade festival in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. They followed this performance by embarking on a headlining tour with Moonsorrow in tow, followed by even more festival appearances and a supporting slot for Swedish progressive metal favourites Opeth in Ireland.
Another new album, "To The Nameless Dead" was released in 2007, and garnered the band even more praise than "The Gathering Wilderness" had done. Featuring the captivating opener, "Empire Falls" as well as a slightly more doom metal approach, it stunned fans and critics alike, being named Metal Album Of 2008 by the webzine, Chronicles Of Chaos. The success of the album allowed the band to do things that previously looked impossible, including filming a live DVD in Dublin and embarking on a trek across North America as part of the PaganFest package tour with Eluveite and Korpiklaani amongst others, as well as reuniting with drummer Simon O’Laoghaire. After re-issuing their first four albums, Primordial released another new album in 2011 entitled, "Redemption At The Puritans Hand," once again earning rave reviews and even finding chart success in Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. It’s likely that it will be a while before the band releases another album but their back catalogue is so fascinating and, I daresay enchanting, that it will easily hold fans attention before they get to work on what will no doubt be another critically acclaimed album. Much as the Sid Meier name on PC games has proved, Primordial isn’t just a band name, it’s a mark of quality. Each album has helped to win over new fans and amaze critics the world over, cementing their place as one of the finest groups in black metal, or in metal in general.
Primordial - "God To The Godless"
Primordial - "Sons Of The Morrigan"
Primordial - "Empire Falls"
Primordial - "The Coffin Ships"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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