Album Review: Primordial's Where Greater Men Have Fallen

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It's no secret that ever since the release of The Gathering Wilderness in 2005, Primordial has had no problem getting critics to sing their praises.

??Despite that album (and all the band's subsequent ones) topping every-metal-publication-that-matters' year end list, the band struggled to find a marketing niche and unfortunately got lumped into the "pagan" or "folk" metal scene, most likely because their sound is pretty hard to describe in a press release and they pretty much only tour with folk metal bands.

??The closest reference point is probably Hammerheart-era Bathory with a little Neurosis and Black Metal thrown into the mix.

That being said, Primordial really just sounds like Primordial; a band that obviously takes their craft very seriously and one that is clearly miles ahead of their contemporaries.

If you're looking for cheesy lyrics about Vikings or accordion-laced drinking anthems, Primordial is not your band.

??Where Greater Men Have Fallen doesn't need to reinvent the sound Primordial has been building on for nearly a decade to be successful. As mentioned before, it's sound that they own - definitively.

The title track builds and builds until vocalist Alan Averill let's out a commanding wail and the riffs crash onto the listener like waves.

Guitarists Ciaran MacUiliam and Michael O'Floinn have a way of making a full-bodied "epic" sound through subtle tonal shifts and chord voicings, culminating in a feel that most bands spend dozens of Pro Tools tracks and computer effects trying to achieve.

??"Babel's Tower" uses the same kind of dissonant riffing that made records like Burzum's Filsofem so sickly endearing and mean sounding, but that's only a part of it.

The track ends with a tapping solo that's at once triumphant and understated.

Even Where Greater Men Have Fallen's lesser tracks, such as "The Seed of Tyrants," which is probably the most straight-up metal track we've heard out of Primordial in years, don't rely on genre-cliches.

??It's true that Primordial's sound can sometimes be challenging and does demand a certain amount of patience from the listener, but as of right now, they're the only band that are loosely operating in a relatively-unserious genre that deserves to be taken seriously. Where Greater Men Have Fallen transcends conventions.

hopefully it finds its audience soon.