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Primordial - "All Empires Fall" (DVD)

Primordial - "All Empires Fall" DVD cover image

"All Empires Fall" track listing:

1. Empire Falls (7:39)
2. Fuil Arsa (4:32)
3 Gallows Hymn (5:05)
4 Sons Of The Morrigan (7:05)
5. Cast To The Pyre (6:29)
6. The Golden Spiral (7:19)
7. As Rome Burns (8:21)
8. The Coffin Ships (7:59)
9. Traitors Gate (6:45)
10. Journey's End (7:05)
11. No Nation On This Earth (7:01)
12. Gods To The Godless (6:41)
13. Heathen Tribes (8:21)

Reviewed by on May 3, 2010

"the documentary transcends a normal band biopic - it's a tale of a real band struggling against labels, trends, life and themselves for art."

If this DVD release serves as nothing else, it would be proof that Nemtheanga is one of the best vocalists in metal today. His album performances are brilliant, but the ability to pull off such emotive, aggressive and soulful vocals live is a true gift. Yes my friends, epic is an over used word these days, but one that truly belongs tagged besides a Primordial performance.

This is Irish pagan folk/black metal band Primordial's "All Empires Fall" DVD, which includes a full concert, documentary and bonus live footage. In the opening sequence of the main show, guitarists Ciáran MacUiliam and Michael O'Floinn can be seen ascending the stairs looking perhaps no more like metal stars than the average crowd member. But as soon as they launch into the spellbinding "Empires Fall," they morph into wizards of heathen metal there to put on a great show, all thrashing hair and balls. The whole band keeps up a great level of energy for the entire show and to reiterate, Nemtheanga is still pushing through the songs with amazing gusto right to the last track.

The camera shots of the band are all fantastic. The lighting can be a little strong at times (epileptic Primordial fans beware!), but I've seen far less exciting footage shot by far bigger bands. The sound recording is also of superb quality; everything can be heard clearly and cleanly as if you're front row yourself. Along with super strong tracks from "The Golden Spiral" and "To The Nameless Dead," the band has chosen to throw in a healthy bunch of older material, which makes a great set list. The good news is that these songs still hold up very well, especially when their more aggressive black metal hearts shine through.

The documentary is an in-depth look at the history of a real metal band, one which is undoubtedly Irish, so you may need subtitles to understand anything said by half the band. It's superbly interesting not least for historical reasons - musicians giving an earnest account of the scene from the late 80s about the birth of extreme metal, touring, living the metal life and the great stories that come with it. It's a gem that younger fans like myself can learn from and older fans can reminisce with. Immortal, Mayhem, Sigh, Bal-Sagoth, Sabbat, Gorgoroth and more all get a mention and the connections will be engaging for any metal fan.

If it was just the concert footage by itself this would be a good DVD. However, the documentary transcends a normal band biopic - it's a tale of a real band struggling against labels, trends, life and themselves for art. If you're a Primordial fan then this is for you; if not make sure to check out one of the most exciting bands of the decade, who has been lurking on the edge since the late 80s.

Highs: Good main package in the live show, with a great documentary to boot.

Lows: The set list is dominated by new material, which may not suit old school freaks.

Bottom line: Couldn't have asked for much more, an essential package for Primordial fans.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)