Primordial Where Greater Men Have Fallen 01I’m sure by now you all know about Angry Metal Guy‘s Law of Diminishing Recordings. In short form, your favorite band is going to eventually suck because they’ll either run their ideas to the ground, or they’ll change and you’ll want to kill them for it. Take Ireland’s pagan sons Primordial, for instance. Since 1998’s underrated A Journey’s End, they’ve been on an incredibly sharp musical incline that peaked with 2007’s unfuckwithable To The Nameless Dead, an album that I hold near and dear to my heart. 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand came out and… it definitely did not come close to reaching the valiant highs of its predecessor, despite still being a good album in its own right. So I’m left with the daunting task of reviewing their newest, Where Greater Men Have Fallen, being fully aware of this fact. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that Redemption was a misstep, because Where Greater Men Have Fallen contains some of the best work Primordial have ever put to record.

When the gallop of the title track kicks in, you can’t help but bang your head, pump your fist, and absorb the feeling of pride as the band marches forth, with guitarists Ciáran MacUiliam and Micheál O’Floinn in perfect lockstep with drummer Simon O’Laoghaire’s military beat. As the song continues on, it exemplifies what Primordial is about: unbridled passion and focus. Once again, though, despite the level of musicianship in the band, it’s A. A. Nemtheanga’s passionate singing that elevates this song, and Primordial as a collective, to the level of feverish worship. Every word is sung and screamed as if his life was truly at an end, sounding both reflective and compassionate all at once, and it’s successful yet again at turning each song he performs on into a convincing rallying cry.

Primordial Where Greater Men Have Fallen 02If, like me, you love the moodier side of Primordial, don’t panic, as that’s represented quite well here also. The morose funeral march “Babel’s Tower” lurches solemnly with Pól MacAmlaigh’s thick bass lines, one of Nemtheanga’s best screams at 3:57, and a tastefully performed guitar solo at the end. Closer “Wield Lightning to Split The Sun” leans heavily on their acoustic roots, featuring a beautiful chord structure with O’Laoghaire’s simple yet highly effective tribal drumming. On the flip side of things, “The Seed of Tyrants” harkens back to their earlier blackened days, with some amazing chorded tremolo and blasts. Regardless of tempo or mood, though, Nemtheanga’s passionate cries are what people flock to when mentioning Primordial, and yet again, he doesn’t disappoint. “The Alchemist’s Head” even brings back his old blackened rasp from the Imrama days, but despite the return of Nemtheanga’s throaty screams, it’s easily the weakest song on the entire album. No matter how many times I play it, it still feels very confused and disjointed, two words I would never imagine using when describing a Primordial song. In fact, when I made the playlist on my computer and omitted this song entirely, my enjoyment of the album amplified. Had this song been left off, Where Greater Men Have Fallen would probably receive a perfect score.

The production by Jaime Gomez Arellano brings a sense of warmth to Where Greater Men Have Fallen. The drums especially sound powerful and driving, the guitars are teeming with life, and the bass is audible and punchy. The songwriting, despite “The Alchemist’s Head,” has rarely been stronger, though, as we are seeing a band reaching the same lofty heights attained by their frontman, who is easily one of the most dynamic vocalists and lyricists of our time. This is a welcome return to form if there ever was one.

With great pleasure, I can say that Primordial have definitely side-stepped the Law of Diminishing Recordings and have brought forth a powerful album worthy of the band’s heritage. Though not quite the same level as To The Nameless Dead, it easily sits alongside that album’s predecessor, The Gathering Wilderness, in terms of rank and file. Once again, my Top Ten(ish) list is in need of a reorganization, and this is a great album to end the year to.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 280 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: PrimordialOfficial |
Release Dates: EU: 2014.11.24 | NA: 11.25.2014

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  • Well I’ve got my Record o’ the month contender for November.

    • Grymm

      Mine too!

  • JWG

    I thought RatPH was much more than just a ‘good’ album, but perhaps that attitude is tempered solely by expecting Exceptional things of Primordial and only getting Excellent. If this is a step up, it’s 100% guaranteed to be on my AOTYL.

    Considering I brought it home just before noticing this Post, I can find out immediately…

    • Shawn Cypher

      Very excited to hear this album then. So far my favorite record (across all genres) released this year have been Pallbearer “Foundations of Burden”, but… there’s a lot of other good ones.

      Most of them aren’t very metal. For example, The Faint’s “Doom Abuse” was great imo, but I digress, this is about metal :)

  • Soze

    Agree with all of this apart from Redemption being below par. I awarded it album of the year if I recall correctly. Brilliant band, never put a foot wrong.

  • This just made my day. Now just need it to arrive!

  • flashgordon

    I didn’t knew Primordial until somedays ago…
    Born to Night is really something… And A. A. remembers me of Messiah Marcolin desperate style.

    • Well, that’s one guy I never expected A.A. compared to.

      • flashgordon

        Just the ‘wounded to death’ singing…

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    This is an album I’ve been waiting for. Primordial rarely, if ever, disappoints.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    was waiting for this review to drop!….and boy did it drop like a BOMB!…. I will be feeling the same kind of excitement you must have felt while reviewing the album! Great review!

  • Antoine Roth

    Am I the only one who found this record kinda meh? IT’s not bad per se but definitely not at the level of their previous output. AMG’s law of diminishing records is in full swing IMO…

  • Alexandre Barata

    I agree that this is a great album to end the year with. Although I believe it’s quite inferior to To the Nameless Death, as it doesn’t have so many memorable tunes, and every song isn’t a hymn as in the 2007’s masterpiece. So, this said, although i love the album and the band I can’t see this nearly as perfect as the previously mentioned one was.

    Also it came out more less at the same time as Taake’s Striden’s Hus, which I believe is the pearl in this month :)

  • Wilhelm

    Damn, Am I the only one who thinks “Redemption…” was a masterpiece?

    • Ernesto Aimar

      “To the nameless dead” it’s their 10/10….but to me “Redemption…” it’s a 9/10, I recall saying that in the comments section of it’s review here at AMG :)

    • Shawn Cypher

      I agree, I think Redemption was their best album to date. I have not heard the new one yet, though.

      Might be buying it this week on iTunes, though, we’ll see!

  • Wilhelm

    Let me first congratulate Primordial on a nice warm analog full sound, I’m not sure if they are recording directly to tape or using some analog plug-ins but it makes all the difference in the world. Most metal released today I will stop listening after one song because of the horribly compressed tinny digital sound. Next I would like to say that the music is great as always, sticking to their sound without sounding redundant; Primordial has never made a bad album.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I was kind of baffled the first time I listened to the album, but it has certainly grown A LOT in me. Primordial never dissapoints me (I actually love “Redemption…”) and Nemtheanga it’s one of the most peculiar singers available in the scene. Great review!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This record is great

  • seems that I need to stop reading this good metal blogs! now I’m adding Primordial to my check-list. I’ve listened the promo song and was very good, even when I don’t like too much of Black Metal

  • euthanatos

    I was really nervous reading the beginning of the review “OH GOD, THIS IS GOING TO BE EVEN WORSE THAN REDEMPTION” and then I read “Thankfully, I’m happy to report that Redemption was a misstep, because Where Greater Men Have Fallen contains some of the best work Primordial have ever put to record” and there was hope was in the world again. I confess I didn’t feel particularly inspired by the video track, but listening to the album now, it sounds killer.