Primordial aren't a new band. They've been around upwards of 20 years, and Where Greater Men Have Fallen is their eighth album. By some accounts, they're Ireland's first-ever black metal band. Primordial aren't really a black metal band, at least at this point, but they're perfectly capable of launching into that hummingbird-blastbeat moody-noise thing. They really find liftoff, though, on a song like "Ghosts Of The Charnel House" - locking into a dinosaur-stomp riff, playing it slowly enough that it can really connect, and then letting frontman Alan Averill just open up his throat and howl. Averill has a set of pipes on him. The singer, who sometimes goes by the ungainly moniker A.A. Nemtheanga, is a classic metal wailer in the mold of Ronnie James Dio or Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. We don't hear too many voices like his anymore: A full-bodied, high-pitched swooping eagle of a thing, a voice that makes everything around it sound bigger. When the band turns toward minor-key churn and Averill has to resort to something like the standard present-day Cookie Monster growl, as on a song like "The Alchemist's Head," Averill can do that just fine. The rest of the band has that vastness in them, too. While Averill, at least on this album, is very much an old-school metal frontman, the rest of the band doesn't seem to feel like they need to go all imitation-Dio to keep up with him. Primordial could be a great retro-metal band, but then they'd still sound like a pale imitation of their influences. Instead, they evoke those old sounds when they need to, but they never sound beholden to them. Even in deep-crunch mode, there's a slight black-metal enervated restlessness to the way they play. And they know how to hold back, too. "Born To Night," the album's longest song at nine minutes, opens with nearly four minutes of atmospheric mandolin strums before they drop the hammer and a monolithic riff bulldozes in out of nowhere. Averill barely sings on "Born To Night," and yet you don't really miss him, since his voice is deployed so effectively.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Come the Flood
The Seed of Tyrants
Ghosts of the Charnel House
The Alchemist's Head
Born to Night
Wield Lightning to Split the Sun
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