Primordial - To the Nameless Dead
Metal Blade
Pagan Dark/Black Metal
8 songs (54'42")
Release year: 2007
Primordial, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Ever since I started writing for MetalReviews December has always been a strange month in terms of my metal listening. Somehow towards the end of the year I always manage to accumulate a pile of discs which I promise myself to peruse at least once before Jingle Bells start ringing. With all of the best-of year-end lists to put together, with all of the important last minute reviews – I don’t want to miss some potential highlights just because an album didn’t fall into my hands earlier.

Irish Primordial’s last album To the Nameless Dead didn’t come out until mid-November, but it was certainly on my list to acquire as soon as possible. I proudly own Imrama and everything from The Burning Season on, having been on the bandwagon before one was ever formed. With all due respect, however, and even with The Gathering Wilderness leaving a profound effect, something was necessary for Primordial to jump over the proverbial hump. It is a cliché to say that the band’s last album is their best, especially if you sympathize with the troop, but To the Nameless Dead is going to mess around the rest of my December plans. Ever since I have torn the wrapper off the CD I can’t take it out of my player, so the rest of the pile is sitting on the desk collecting layers of dust.

To the Nameless Dead is by far the band’s heaviest work, not as distinctly black metal by the genre’s book, and not as openly and overtly Celtic. Yet, Primordial is the band which is so honest with themselves they play what is on their minds at this very moment, and they do not need any flutes or tin-whistles for you to know that they hail from the Emerald Isle.

The album is a stunning in-and-out of melody whirlwind, climbing the highs and scraping the lows, touching on very serious personal and nation-defining issues, leaving a glimmer of hope for both a single person and the collective people. To borrow an explanation from the vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga, if The Gathering Wilderness was impenetrably bleak, To the Nameless Dead leaves us all the last fighting chance, which only fools would fail to grasp.

Every song on the album is a vortex, songwriting at its most impeccable, without beat up verse-chorus-verse structure. You can listen to the album as a whole, compositions flowing one into another, or you can pick them randomly, one at a time, and I guarantee you will want to hear more of them. Heathen Tribes has an undeniable pagan rhythmic meter, the band reciting the travels they have been on throughout their existence. Failures Burden and Empire Falls take a little bit of time to get going and culminate with spectacular swirling leads. As Rome Burns is a lesson awaiting all unsuspecting and arrogant empires, pressed on with Eastern melodic overtones and barbaric beat of slaves risen from under oppression. Gallows Hymn opens up with the bass intro borrowing heavily from Moonlight Sonata and, so it seems to me, the whole song unfolds in accord with Beethoven’s magnificent opus. Only Traitors Gate has black metal blastbeat, appropriate and mesmerizing at the same time. After this outburst No Nation on This Earth grinds and grooves the album into closure, but as you already know I have this masterpiece on continuous play.

A.A. Nemtheanga certainly has his strongest performance ever, pushed to the limit by Chris Fielding who has created a production, both rustic and modern wall-of-sound at the same time. The vocals on To the Nameless Dead are a wonderful mixture of clean, but edgy, British/Irish doom and avantgarde Norse black metal, full of passion, melancholy, despair, defiance and hope at the same time. Within one quick instance he goes from mellow into the ripping, soul shattering experience making you clench your teeth and grip the shirt. The band, as a whole, have spent together so much time, and refined their instrumental skills to the point that Primordial is now a perfect unison, the players understanding each other with unspoken bond.

And if the massiveness of To the Nameless Dead will not get you musically, then pour into the album’s lyrics, deep reflections on the stories of what constitutes a nation, and what price is to be paid for that, not to mention more personal soul-searching expressions. It looks as if the pile on my desk will spend more time sitting idle, that dust growing thicker.

Killing Songs :
Truly all of them
Alex quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Primordial that we have reviewed:
Primordial - How It Ends reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Primordial - Exile Amongst the Ruins reviewed by Alex and quoted 87 / 100
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 - Spirit The Earth Aflame reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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