Primordial - Exile Amongst the Ruins
Metal Blade
Special blend of Atmospheric Doom / Folk and Black
8 songs (65'33")
Release year: 2018
Primordial, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Alex
Major event

In the last few years I made it a point to mostly write reviews about the unknown bands on obscure labels. This could surely lead to the situation where no one reads my musings, but if the band/label in question were to stumble upon my review, and they liked it, they could use it for publicity. Yet sometime I want to indulge (don’t we all?) and review music I truly enjoy.

What I have felt with my favorite bands lately is that some of them are not easy to peg within the genre, but instead they play their own very distinctive style. Irish Primordial is one such band. The evolution they underwent, the amalgamation of metal they play is impossible to categorize, yet when you hear any of the albums from their last decade and a half you just know it is them, the unmistakable Primordial. Exile Amongst the Ruins is no different. My primary criterion on whether Primordial album is good is if I can absolutely succumb to the overwhelming ominous bitterness these lengthy tracks project, if the unsettling mood and penetrating vocals of AA Nemtheanga can, if only for an hour or so, displace my real life worries. Exile Amongst the Ruins passes this quality control mark, and then some, even if it is not the blackest, the folkiest or the most immediate of albums.

Only Primordial can introduce and develop an incredible riff as they do it in Nail Their Tongues. The ominous pressure ratchets, the mid-tempo of the boiling cauldron is savagely devastating and then final crucifixion happens to the tune of blastbeat. The conjoined guitars and cymbals are the Wind from Hell and closing tremolo pulls the tendons out alive. Nail Their Tongues alone is worth the price of purchase and I have played this track tens of times in a row already, unable to allow myself to move on.

Masters of their sound and knowing exactly what they want to achieve, Primordial don’t go for very fast tempos or the blackened tremolo walls on Exile Amongst the Ruins, but instead drag you through hardship with their peculiar blend of atmospheric doom. Here is heavy viscous slower Where Lie the Gods, or purposefully going into a jog Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed, or watery guitar above/profound bass lines below title track brimming with grief and sadness. Yet there is also maddening crazy rocker To Hell or the Hangman, which will absolutely make you shake uncontrollably and air drum to every audible roll you can spot.

The first half of the album exerted such an emotional toll on me I was contemplating whether a shorter Stolen Years is more of a skipper or a relief opportunity, and before I could decide Stolen Years crushed with a funeral aloofness and AA Nemtheanga doing his cleanest vocals on the album. The latter half then is no less Primordial. Sunken Lungs is probably the most ethnic Irish due to Simon O’Laoghaire’s unusual inventive drumming onto which the band is able to thread hypnotizing melodies. And to close, so you won’t think you got off easy, Primordial produces Last Call with its oppressive swirling negative vibe. An acoustic middle is only a temporary relief from nausea you just know is coming back up again.

What else can be piled on top of this? Characteristic AA Nemtheanga vocals, going from harsh (but never cartoonish or ineligible) to cleaner inflections (Nail Their Tongues) to begging croons (Stolen Years), absolutely philosophical lyrics, bearing a ton of meaning (whether you agree with the worldview stances or not is up for an interesting debate), and, if you were able to catch them, some videos produced with the songs (title track).

Exile Amongst the Ruins is a total Primordial package you need to experience. Is it the best Primordial album to date? Isn’t it the question asked whenever a new Primordial album is out? I can’t give you the answer and I honestly don’t care. Exile Amongst the Ruins did what other Primordial albums did for me. Upon hearing it, and finally being able to ween myself off listening to it on repeat, I went back and binged on prior Primordial discography, so jumping off the Primordial needle has not been really complete lately. Good albums do that and Exile Amongst the Ruins was responsible.

Killing Songs :
Nail Their Tongues, To Hell or the Hangman, Exile Amongst the Ruins, Sunken Lungs, Last Call
Alex quoted 87 / 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 - Spirit The Earth Aflame reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Primordial - To the Nameless Dead reviewed by Alex and quoted 95 / 100
Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness reviewed by Crims and quoted 88 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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