Primordial - Spirit The Earth Aflame
Hammerheart Records
Pagan Black/Doom Metal
7 songs (45:37)
Release year: 2000
Primordial, Hammerheart Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The third album from Irish Celts Primordial was my introduction to this most unique of bands, and it’s still the album that I consider their best despite a more or less flawless back catalogue. 2007’s To The Nameless Dead especially is little short of a masterpiece, yet in my heart at least, Spirit The Earth Aflame is better. Although in some ways as melancholic as the band’s later works, it’s equally as epic and has a real viciousness to it – the title refers to Pagans starting a new, post-Christian age, and the slaughter of enemy men, women and children forms a sizeable chunk of the lyrics, although never in a clichéd, Goregrind sort of way. After the title-track and intro, tribal drumming and a sombre statement of intent, the first ‘proper’ song Gods To The Godless opens with Nemtheanga solemnly stating ‘I have one desire... let it be: a pestilence upon your lands/A plague on all your houses’ and the grandiose call to slaughter of The Burning Season is even more effective. Although not Black Metal in the traditional sense, there are rolling moments of violence that fit best in that category, almost like My Dying Bride transplanted into Pagan lands, and in Nemtheanga’s vocals especially, the usage of harsh vocals defines the most intense moments, such as the second ‘we shall make rivers of their blood’ in the aforementioned The Burning Season.

Even when he’s not using his evil snarl, Nemtheanga’s singing voice is the foundation of Primordial. Epic yet flawed, human yet hinting at something ineffably other, his vocals rarely fail to send shivers down my spine and roll over the music like raging stormclouds, the perfect counterpart to the melancholic Folk-infused music. The music itself is never the same, always moving, always shifting... the majestic sermon of Gods To The Godless, the tormented acceptance of fate that is The Soul Must Sleep, the rush of emotion that is Glorious Dawn. As mentioned before, there is a similarity to My Dying Bride, but it’s a much richer tapestry of sounds, and feels much more alive than the gloombahs, avoiding the Gothic influences prevalent there in favour of the Folkiness that helps give Primordial such an emotional edge. All of the musicians are highly skilled, and each gives his all, helping to make moments like traditional instrumental The Cruel Sea as compelling as it is.

Without a doubt, Primordial deserve to stand proudly alongside other bands like Negură Bunget that do fantastic things with Black Metal and Folk. Spirit The Earth Aflame is Primordial’s greatest as well as most melodic album to date, and deserves a place in the collection of any Metalhead. Even newcomers to our great genre should be more than able to appreciate this shining moment in musical history; a future classic indeed.

Killing Songs :
Gods To The Godless, The Burning Season, Glorious Dawn, The Cruel Sea, Children Of The Harvest
Goat quoted 93 / 100
Thomas quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Primordial that we have reviewed:
Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand reviewed by Brian and quoted 90 / 100
Primordial - To the Nameless Dead reviewed by Alex and quoted 95 / 100
Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness reviewed by Crims and quoted 88 / 100
Primordial - Storm Before Calm reviewed by Crims and quoted 85 / 100
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