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Critical perspective 7: Swelling hearts won't burst - 86%

gasmask_colostomy, June 18th, 2019

Almost everyone really loves Primordial. I myself was introduced to the Irish (kind of) black/folk metallers by ‘Empires Fall’ from To the Nameless Dead and really loved that song, what with its rousing epic desperation and all. You’ll hear people saying that The Gathering Wildnerness was the first major step into that same sound, and those people are probably right, although the change didn’t happen overnight, as a trawl through the back catalogue will prove. You’ll also see a lot of comments about perfection and albums of the year and so on. I’m not here to take a shit on Primordial; I just want to evaluate the negative aspects of a much lauded album such as this one. I’ll gloss over the positive features before getting stuck in.

On any given song on this album, you’ll hear Alan Nemtheanga roaring out paeans of loss and trouble in his mostly non-harsh voice, while the guitarists churn out cyclical riffs in either clean or distorted style, the folk influences largely coming from the unusual drumming patterns of Simon O'Laoghaire and the odd bit of bodhrán around the slower tempos. Note should be paid to a largely original sound, since Primordial achieve their folkiness without much use of extra instrumentation (indeed, many listeners won’t notice the bodhrán, seeing as it merely adds another percussive presence), positioning them somewhere that we might call epic Celtic metal if that didn’t sound much too fussy to be creating new names. This style allows the band to form quite a widescreen effect, which – when combined with the vocals – has a particular windswept feeling, though not to the extent that Saor or Sólstafir make the listener feel outside all the time. Bringing evocative imagery to mind is one thing, but Primordial give more of a proud feeling to their long, driving verses, as if Amon Amarth were (spiritually) tugging at iron heartstrings with a three minute chorus. Grown men may possibly cry.

Grown men may possibly also get bored. Why? Because The Gathering Wildnerness keeps doing the same thing for an hour, some minor diversions withstanding. I’m all for mood in music, but I like the mood to vary in degrees during an album or to express itself in different ways. Mentioning the Amon Amarth chorus was to highlight how the “bursting heart” trope usually works: as a climax or a theme, not as the key idea of every song. Fulfilling the promise of the lengthy build-up to that point necessitates a kind of release – a pay-off, if you will – that Primordial seem unable to provide, owing to the drawn-out and gradual nature of their music. You won’t find a lead instrument in these songs, barring Nemtheanga’s voice (which I’m coming to), so the band has little firepower to hammer a moment home and say, “We have arrived: isn’t it glorious?” The building elements of a song like ‘The Coffin Ships’ may well be exquisite in their balance and beauty, but it also returns to clean sections several times to produce better dynamics. That 10 minute centrepiece remains the exception on the album, possessing the best structuring to complement its partly stolen melodic riff (from My Dying Bride’s ‘The Deepest of All Hearts’, with even the vocals weirdly echoing Aaron Stainthorpe).

I’d like to make an observation here: Primordial sound most distinctive when playing the sprawling mid-paced riffs, yet produce more memorable moments in the contrasts between paces and styles. The riffing on ‘Tragedy’s Birth’, which follows ‘The Coffin Ships’, is set off by the sombre close of the album’s longest song, opening with a spirited up-tempo charge after jangly acoustics pave the way. However, standout riffs are few and far between, too many occupying similar territory and repeating for too long to produce much impact, sometimes serving as backing for impassioned vocal sections and sometimes just as placeholders without a particular purpose. Instrumental sections remain uncurbed, featuring little development or surplus time taken for insufficient development, as can be witnessed by the bewildering mid-section of ‘Cities Carved in Stone’, which drags a riff (without vocals) through three minutes only to drop into a clean verse and return again to the same riff to conclude. Even the memorable late charge of ‘Tragedy’s Birth’ comes only after a fairly massive period of build-up, feeling like wasted time in the grand scheme of the song. Give me a pair of scissors and I could probably get Primordial to finish The Gathering Wilderness in about 45 minutes instead of 60.

Concerns in the previous paragraph about flabby, aimless songwriting might be brushed off by calling the album spacious, but Primordial aren’t out of the woods yet. I’ve been holding back on the vocals for a while, since I know that Nemtheanga’s voice is at once the most distinctive element in the music and also the driving force of much of the emotion. Nevertheless, is he actually that good? That “shouting into the wind” style that he goes for might reflect the group’s transition from black metal to folk metal, while a smattering of harsh declarations remind us that Primordial play notionally extreme metal, but he doesn’t hit the right key as often as you’d hope, nor do all his attempts at widening his simple style come off. The roars lack power at times and the higher-pitched sections during ‘End of All Times (Martyrs Fire)’ feel incredibly ropey, especially during the “woah-oh-oh” line when I could believe that he’d be making shrugging gestures at his bandmates from within the vocal booth. That song particularly has incredible lyrics and should be delivered with a lot more power and confidence – even considering the evident doubt and loss – that just doesn’t emerge. On that point, one could also find fault with a mix that achieves scope without much finesse, slightly dry guitars being pummelled by clattering drums and the vocals being held back within the sound. This album didn’t need to be slick, but a few tweaks would have helped.

I think I’ll call the criticism for now and conclude on a few positive points, as well as my own opinion. I can enjoy The Gathering Wilderness most of the time, wholly during excellent opener ‘The Golden Spiral’, which has busier change-ups of riffs and tempos, and ‘The Coffin Ships’, on which I’ve already gone into detail. Despite strongly scorning the directionless repetition of riffs in other places, they do generally work and I’ve included the comments more to highlight how they could be a problem rather than to dismiss them entirely. Disappointingly, the title track is one of few places where I feel things didn’t work out, even though the whole song gradually elevates from a quiet start. As an aside, fans of drumming will be beside themselves for most of the album, since O'Laoghaire’s performance is absolutely stellar and if I cared more about technique this might be getting a higher score. All in all, The Gathering Wilderness can be called a strongly individual album with a slightly flawed formula.

"They echo down through the ages" - 80%

CardsOfWar, December 1st, 2014

Primordial are a band that have always had something to say. From the nostalgic national romanticism of their earlier releases, to the nihilistic rejection of those very same ideals in 2007’s masterpiece To the Nameless Dead, Primordial have always wanted their music to have emotional and political meaning beyond its mere compositional structures and forms.

In spite, however of all the innate focus on politics and history found in The Gathering Wilderness, it still manages to avoid the prototypical problem with overtly political/didactic music of an overwhelming emphasis on message over good songcraft and musicianship. The songs on The Gathering Wilderness dynamically rise and fall like the olden empires Primordial is so fond of; tied together by the signature burning guitar lines the band are known for, and carried along by frontman Alan Averill’s impassioned vocal cries. The vocals are and always will be a highlight of Primordial’s work, but never so much as on The Gathering Wilderness; Averill ranges from his standard bellowing cleans, to harsh screams, to sinister whispers, to feeble, triumphant background humming. “Who casts the shadow upon our age?” he asks at one point; a resounding open question that seems to encompass the shining past, the bleak future, and everything in between, made only more powerful by the devastating vocal style used to deliver it.

With all that said, The Gathering Wilderness is not without its fair share of problems. In terms of the realisation of overall musical aims, The Gathering Wilderness is largely lacking. Individual verses and riffs stand as recurrent, self-contained events, rather than contributing to a broader musical narrative. An overwhelming emphasis is placed on making each individual component as good as it can be, without really any significant contribution to a broader picture. The occasional poorly placed lyrical passage certainly doesn’t help in this regard either. “Sometimes I get to thinking about the past, when I’ve had more than a drink or two,” sings Averill on the largely pointless final track; A line that, given the clean, easily understandable vocal style with which it is delivered, and the unusually misplaced confidence Averill has in the verse is enough to pull even the most entranced listener out of their reverie.

Through the paragraph preceding this one, the impression may have been given that The Gathering Wilderness is at its core a flawed or unenjoyable album, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s full of downright inspired moments and ideas. Compositionally, The Gathering Wilderness leaves very little to be desired, it’s just that conceptually, it’s emblematic of a band that knew exactly what they wanted to say, but were still searching for the perfect way of saying it.

Where animals lay down to die... - 100%

Sargon_The_Terrible, October 16th, 2007

Primordial have been together for almost 20 years now, slowly evolving from the rather generic "woodsy" Black Metal of their early days into the incredible beast they have become. Their last two albums Spirit The Earth Aflame and Storm Before Calm got a lot of press and attention, finally resulting in their being picked up by Metal Blade so they could finally get wider release. As always, a bigger label signing is cause for some concern, but Primordial have not taken a misstep, and their fifth album, The Gathering Wilderness, is nothing short of a masterwork.

I say Primordial are the true heirs to Quorthon's legacy, and I defy anyone to hear this album and tell me different. The Gathering Wilderness is hammerforged with huge, epic riffs that flow one into the other and carry the songs across the land like tidal waves. The sound is huge, fully as powerful as Bathory in their best works. Of all modern bands, perhaps only Graveland comes close to the force wielded here. There are no folk instruments as such, only a powerful atmosphere of heritage and pride, and the enormous emotion poured out by vocalist Alan Nemtheanga. He's not technically a very good singer, but he's not really 'singing' per se, or yelling or screaming. I can't really categorize his vocals at all. He just pours out so much raw, bleeding emotion that at times it's almost too much. Standouts are hard to pick out, as the album is a unified whole – indivisible. But the title track is just immense in every sense of the word, and "The Coffin Ships" kills me every time – Gods that Riff! If that shit doesn't own you then nothing ever will.

This is just a monster of an album, and I can only shiver at the thought that Primordial only just hit their stride with Spirit, and are still coming into their own. This is not an album you love, this is an album you worship. Uncompromising. Brilliant. Flawless.

Originally written for


Ulver_, November 9th, 2005

Well, it was clear that it would finally come down to this. "The Gathering Wilderness" is Primordial's gift to humanity. All these years of label changes, insecurities and struggling to survive in the metal scene strengthened Primordial and they also made them more "bitter".

In 2005, with the strong shadow of a big label finally covering them, the Irish quintet returns with their 5th album. Which is their best. "The Gathering Wilderness" is a sum of all that make metal music what it is: passionate, dark, authentic, heartfelt, raw, aggressive, epic, lyrical, mournful, sincere, in one word...metal.

Nowadays, metal music has lost its way, up to a certain point. Trends and attitudes that weaken it appear every day. So, this is the time when bands like Primordial and album like this are needed. Primordial show us the grim face of reality in their own undisputed way. Musicwise, what I heard is a divine mix of epic Bathory, Burzum with Primordial earlier attempts. I know I may sound blasphemous, but this album has nothing to be jealous of "Hammerheart". It's true. The raw and ugly production of Billy Anderson makes the band's sound as strong as never before. Another highlight is the riffs. Oh my God! A songwriting orgasm is what I hear, inspiration is the 6th member of Primordial I guess. Nemtheanga's vocals I left for the end...he sings in such a passionate way, I cannot believe it. It's been years since I last heard such a performance, he's devastatingly expressive and believable. All vocals are "clean" with only some black metal-ish shrieks remaining. But, don't worry, this album is more "black metal" than many other corpsepainted wannabes...Oh well, this is "The Gathering Wilderness", the best metal album for 2005. Embrace it.

Repetition...Repetition...Repetition...The End? - 40%

CallerOfTheCthulhu, October 23rd, 2005

Many people don't seem to know what to properly categorize The Gathering Wilderness, the fifth studio full length from legends Primordial. This one has a doom feel to it's already celtic and folk atmosphere. Many will say there's a black metal feel to it, but really it's not quite three. There is also a huge following behind the band, and almost everyone who has heard of the band has their own view towards them, ultimately leading into the love or hate it category. What can be said? Primordial is just one of those types of bands, almost like Opeth in a sense. But, enough with comparisons and such, on with the actual review, shall we?
The CD totals to close to an hour with no song under several minutes. While the songs may be long, that doesn't quite mean it is the best. Really, the album is kind of slow and somewhat boring at the start to be honest. The music is just repetition, the same riffs over and over, with a celtic feel and vocals that leave a good deal to be desired. But after the first two tracks, you'll land on the track "The Song of The Tomhb" which is actually somewhat better compared to the other two tracks on the album.

At ths point you realize (if you haven't heard a Primordial album before) that almost each song will hold the same sound, somewhat epic and mid-tempoed without much of a chance in the vocals or music. While it may be catchy at times, and good some of the time, it's not the greatest all of the time, but sometimes can definately put you on a bit of trip with the way the riffs and drums are set up. The lyrics are somewhat of a saving grace for most of the songs. But that's about it until the end of the line.

One thing that needs to be mentioned are the little sayings that appear in the booklet. As you read the lyrics, there are small captions included that both make you think, and also somewhat explain the song. So if you have the time in between vocals, sometimes having two minute gaps and breaks, take the time to read these little quotations to get a better understanding of what the band is trying to portray in the song if you missed it the first time around.

So, all in all, this CD that everyone has been raving over is really nothing major. While die hard celtic and folk metal fans will rejoice, this truly isn't one of the best examples from the style's field. The band works well together as a group, but this release just not cut it and will probably leave you wanting to throw in a Slayer CD or something a little more fast pace to leave the boredom behind. It's not because the album's slow, it's not because the lyrics are bad, in fact it would be neither and not any other problem outside of the simple fact that it is the repetition in the music that kills The Gathering Wilderness right from the start.

A masterpiece! - 99%

Cold_Colours, August 31st, 2005

Primordial, The Gathering Wilderness

So here we have 'The Gathering Wilderness', album number 5 and their finest release to date for the undesputed kings of the Irish metal scene. Ever since their debut album 'Imrama' came out all those years ago there has always been a special something about Primordial's epic celtic metal, from the strong black metal influence of the said debut through the more melancholic follow up ' A Journeys End' to fanning the flames with the rallying 'Spirit The Earth Aflame' and adding further kindling to the fire with the aggressive 'Storm Before Calm', Primordial have always been a force to be reckoned with. Only an Irish band could make an album as passionate yet volatile as 'The Gathering Wilderness', there is no fantasy swords and sorcery here, no gloves of metal, no juvenile devil worshipping or teeny angst! What we have here is the real thing, an honest, chilling and emotionally draining, disturbing listen as you could hope to find, yet still it is laiden with Primordial's trademark pride and unbreakable spirit.

This ladies and gentleman is the sound of something special, something very special. This is beyond most bands but dont take my word for it. Buy it, listen to it, listen to it again and then again, let it slowly seep into your subconsience and then tell me if im wrong? Oh yeah, but dont expect an easy ride, good things dont come easily, yet Primordial deliver the goods in the form of their most damn tragic and desperate sounding album, yet for all its negativety, as ever pride and inner strength shine through.

This is a pure, honest no frills metal album drenched in huge crashing riffs like grey icy waves crashing on the rocks of some desolate shoreline, a dark, deppressive mixture of epic windswept metal, black metal and doom metal with strong traditional Irish influences but make no mistake we are talking stark desperate parts played on traditional Irish whistles and string instruments. There are no happy Irish jigs and folky pan pipes here! This combined with singer Alan Nemethanga's awesome vocal range which varys from harsh throat ripping black metal screams, to epic Quorthon inspired bellowing through soaring clean vocals and soft spoken word parts!

Now onwards to the songs: First up 'The Golden Spiral' certainly the obvious opener, powerful mid tempo and showing all the Primordial trademarks, however, good as it is I can help but feel its the albums weakest song.

The title track 'The Gathering Wilderness' is for me one of the highlights of the album, from the somber traditional Irish intro the song builds and swells, deeply melancholic yet laiden with malice and scorn for all things unpure and a desire to rid us of "The vermin, the vermin of the earth" and to " Wish pestilence upon the foul and weak, not just the men but the women and children too", Harsh strong words set upon a bleak dark canvas of slow, doomy dischordiant leads.

Track 3 raises the tempo up a few notches with the fabulous 'Song of the tomb', Epic in every sense of the word, a real fist punching song in the spirit of 'Hammerheart' era Bathory.

Track 4, 'End of all times ( martyrs fire ) is again a very dark and desperate song, dealing with betrayal and how ones culture is bought and sold for political and financial gain. A very bleak, deppressive yet angry song.

Then on to 'The Coffin Ships', without any doubt the highlight of the album, possibly one of the most genuinely moving songs ever written. Its subject? The great Irish famines, a subject close to the heart of the Irish where hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation or were forced upon ships to America in search of a better life, these ships where named 'the coffin ships' due to the numbers of people whom died on board. This song really highlights singer Alan's fantastic vocal range, soft spoken parts mixed with the most passionate soaring clean vocals almost breaking with emotion about finding yourself "Alone on a distant shore, broken spirits in rags and tatters"

The following song 'A tragedies birth' is again more upbeat ,epic and angry with some very powerful bellowed vocals and some excellent dischordiant guitar parts.

Closer ' Citys carved in stone' is rather unusual for Primordial, its a song written upon one reptative slow riff and deals with personnel thoughts that we all have after "a drink or two" and is a fitting closer to an emotionally draining album!

Irish Perfection - 99%

darkoblivion, August 13th, 2005

This was the first Primordial album I heard (and first of the kind too) so I was amazed for having enjoyed it so much. It really doesn’t tire you; on the other hand it can only inspire you.
Primordial are an Irish act, with great musicians and fabulous lyricist and vocalist Alan A. Nemtheanga. The riffs are abundant and strong, as well as the drumming. Alan is such a great interpreter, as is voice sounds different from song to song, ranging lots of emotions, from anger to grief, from sadness to malevolent sounds
Analysing track by track (it only has seven tracks, but the high quality makes for it):

The Golden Spiral: This song has clearly one of the best intros in this album. Alan’s vocals are harsh in this one, but not as rough as in Tragedy’s Birth, though sometimes he sounds malevolent. The guitars sound almost hypnotical in this track, as does the drumming also in the end of the track.
The Gathering Wilderness: The intro has some chanting, and then the guitars enter solidly. Alan starts out saddened, but rapidly he changes his mood to a more rabid one. The voice swings are the strongest point in this song, as I view it. But the guitars and drums didn’t sound as good here as in other tracks, so Alan’s work was kind of put down.
The Song of the Tomb: This is one of the best of the album. It has a powerful intro. Alan’s chanting is a mix of anger and sadness. We have some acoustic guitar in the middle of the song, accompanied by some spoken words, and then it starts a build up of guitars and drums, that really is epic, and goes on to the end.
End of All Times: One of the two best songs of the album, maybe the best (only track 3 stands really near). It starts out with an awesome intro. Alan accomplishes another very emotional interpretation, with is versatile voice showing suffering. Epic riffs and drums are present among the entire track. No one who really cares about music can hear to this and maintain apathy. The last 2 minutes are among my favourite moments of the entire album, highlighting the last minute of them, with really epic strong drumming.
The Coffin Ships: This song has a very long intro (more than two and a half minutes), not as good as the previous songs, but Alan’s interpretation is just fabulous, the more emphatically felt by him, as the lyrics refer to the 4 year famine that ravaged Eire in the 19th century. The ending is a melancholic, yet short, violin play.
Tragedy’s Birth: This song has an acoustic guitar intro that almost sounds Mediterranean, but the sound quickly roughens up, with the drums and heavy guitars showing up (and keeping present until the track ends). Alan’s vocals are quite rougher here than in the previous two songs, this time showing anger. The song has strength, without any doubt, and is among the best of the album, by my view.
Cities Carved in Stone: This one starts out sounding kind of tribal. Then the song really calms down, being in my opinion the weakest track of all, and it denies perfection to the album. Alan’s vocals failed to please me here. The track lacks the emotion of all others, and it really doesn’t seem to fit in.

All in all, an incredibly good epic folk metal album that anyone who loves metal should buy. Or at least listen to.

Incredible... - 99%

BloodyPhalluses, March 16th, 2005

I'm really satisfied that I found this band... I was in Hungary, and bought the latest issue of Hammer magazine which had a section on Primordial. I was particularly struck by the cover art which is very dark and subtle, and so I went out and bought the Album.

Well damn, the high reviews stand correct! I can't agree more with what others have already said. This is a very powerful album. Everything about this Album is what music should be. The lyrics strike me the most, with their unique and melancholy tone. Often historical, and very intellectual. There are also small captions beneath each song to briefly explain the content, or the influence behind the lyrics.

A.A. Nemtheanga's vocals are excellent. He has a very gruff voice, filled with expression... his voice ranges from a clean tone to a black metal screech, but he mostly sings in a rough half-growl. But his note range is equally impressive, high to low, low to high, you won't find any monotone singing here... only lots of quality and variety and expression. He doesn't use any vocal effects either, maybe a tiny bit of reverb, but hardly noticeable... it certainly adds to the rawness and power of the album, as well as showcasing his true talent at singing.

As for the music, the sound is well produced, but still raw enough to not sound over-polished and fake. This is probably the most real and down to Earth music I've heard for a long time. The drums are fairly simple, bur pounding and driving... and it doesn't sound like any effects are used, such as triggers or electronic drums. Only pounding of natural acoustic drums, the way it ought to be!

It's not easy to pick one song as my Favorite, but if I had to, I would pick "End of all times" This song is just excellent, with lots of emotion, and deep meaningful lyrics. I also like the outro to the first song, "the golden spiral" which consists of pounding large tom drums, almost tribal...

All in all, this album certainly is some of the best folk/doom metal I've heard in a long time... The only other band I can think of that comes close to these guys is Agalloch from the US (another great folk/doom metal band)... Primordial have mastered the art of dark powerful melodies and interweaving melancholy harmonies...

I highly recommend this album.

beautiful - 98%

Life_Sucks, March 5th, 2005

This CD really isn’t much different from Primordial’s other releases. For those not familiar with the band, Primordial play unique, atmospheric folk metal, with a versatile vocalist who’s delivery can for the most part be described as somewhat of an emotionally charged chanting, though he sometimes employs a more black metallish delivery, and sometimes an angry sounding yell. The songs on this CD are largely slow paced. The slow pace of the songs adds to the overwhelming feeling of melancholy and sorrow that has always marked Primordial’s sound. The music on this CD is about atmosphere, and not catchy, crushing riffs. Multi-layered guitar tracks work together to create an amazing sense of atmosphere achieved by few other, if any, bands. Some people might find the music simplistic, minimalistic, or repetitive upon first listen, but upon closer listen the multiple guitar tracks weave an intricate, complex musical mesh that is anything but simplistic. This is not the kind of metal you would put on when you are in the mood for something aggressive and charged with energy. It is something you would pop in when you are in the mood for some brooding, melancholic music with an atmosphere that will live you in a trance. The songs on this CD are all quite long (none of them fall short of the 7:00 mark), but never get boring. Actually, my favorite song on the CD is the longest song, The Coffin Ships, clocking in at almost 10:00. It is a very sad song, with lyrics dealing with the mid 19th century famine in Ireland, in which the country lost over 3,000,000 people. Alan’s vocal delivery sounds as sad and pained as the song’s lyrics are. This CD should appeal to fans of folk metal, atmospheric black metal, and doom metal, as elements of all can be found in the music. Hell, this CD should appeal to fans of good music in general. I do not think it is a stretch to say that this CD could well wind up being the best of 2005.

Nothing touches this!! - 99%

krozza, February 25th, 2005

In a time of countless repetition and lack of originality, there are always those new releases that come our way (usually at the most opportune moment) that justify our continual love for this style of music. Like all genres, Metal isn’t infallible, there’s a surfeit of mediocre, middle tier bands that we tolerate, all in the hope of stumbling across a piece of genius. Ireland’s Primordial isn’t new to me – I knew this was coming – however, if you wanted any more evidence of how good this music can be - you want genius? - Then this is it folks. It’s only early days, but in 2005 is the best thing I have heard. It’ll take something extraordinary to change that.

After some 13 years in the game, Primordial have been through some incredible trying times to get to this point. Having released five full-length albums prior to this (including the classic ‘Journey’s End’ of 1998), the under current of label hassles and a lack of touring has always hindered Primordial’s progress. Any lesser band would have thrown the towel in long ago. Finally, with the backing Metal Blade, it appears that Primordial are about to garner some long over due recognition. I’ve always loved this band (it’s been a decade since I first bought their 1995 debut ‘Imrama’), but for a lot of people, ‘TGW’ is their first initiation to the band. That’s a damn pity. Hopefully this new one will pique some interest in the bands back catalogue. Believe me, it is just as strong.

Primordial are absolute masters at writing dark, deeply moving pieces of heavy music. TGW is one of those albums that simply drip with passion and emotional creativity. There is a mood and feeling on this album that cannot be touch. It is a mood drenched in sorrowful, painful melancholy. But, my god, could it be any more powerful? I think not. Every word uttered, every note written is delivered with the utmost honesty and integrity. If you’ve ever wondered whether bands actually believe in everything they sing and write about, then never question Primordial – these guys mean every syllable.

The music on this disc simply floors me from beginning to end. Like most of their previous material, it leaves me speechless (again). With a dramatic, bottom heavy production from Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Melvins) ‘TGW’ swells and builds to magnificent crescendo’s time and again. It is truly an epic masterpiece.

Primordial are definitely the sum of its parts, yet for me it has always been the presence of vocalist Alan.A.Nemtheanga that makes Primordial the dark, emotive force that it is. Is there a more forlorn and expressive vocalist in the game? A.A’s unique tone and impassioned delivery is soul-stirring stuff indeed. Seriously, the pain and rage that Alan captures will but shivers up your spine. I’m positive that Alan was moved to tears during his vocal recordings such is the belief in his subject matter.

‘TGW’ is easily one of Primordial’s more intense albums. It’s probably not as aggressive as 2002’s ‘Storm Before Calm’ but with A.A’s incredibly captivating vocal performance, the impact of its compositions is just as great. I could rave on for aeons about how brilliant this album is, but I think you get the picture. Nothing touches this at the moment. I’ve listened to it repeatedly for the past two weeks and still, it fails to tire me. If there is to be a more thoroughly captivating metal album written this year, I cannot wait to hear it. Beg, borrow or steal it, whatever the case, ‘The Gathering Wilderness’ is mandatory!!


A Journey walked anew... - 100%

The_Grimner, February 9th, 2005

"It paints many bleak and barren landscapes, heavy with tragedy and melancholy. I have a feeling we may never make an album like that again."

Alan Averill, on the liner notes for Spirit The Earth Aflame

Hmmm, never say never, Alan. Sitting here, with my copy of "The gathering Wilderness", listening to it for the nth time in I don't know how long, what does spring to mind are bleak and barren landscapes, heavy with tragedy and melancholy. I won't be the first to point it out, but this latest offering bears a lot of striking resemblances to Primordial's "A Journey's End" revelation. Their two subsequent albums were incredibly powerful and mighty affairs, but the dominant feeling there was one of victorious epicness, a triumphant defiance if you will. Now, with this album, things are more downcast than they have ever been in the Primordial camp. At the same time, this is easily their best album, and, though it is only early February, I think it safe to say that this will be the best album of 2005. Yes, it's THAT fucking excellent.

Perhaps what is more striking about Primordial is their uncanny ability to have forged a style all to themselves. Not the hillarious prefixes po-faced black metal bands add to their music, like the "misanthropic pagan winter satanic nuclear holocaust black metal that respects the sabbath and keeps sunday to be with old grandma" attempts most bands recur to to masquerade the fact that they actually sound like everyone else. I mean an actually unqualifiable sound, wherein the roots are imediately recognizable, but blended and transformed into something altogether new. This has very strong Folk roots, but at the same time, it is Folk unlike the norm in Metal.

Music-wise, we're on familiar Primordial territory, broadly speaking. Ciaran still uses all the remainder tracks available at the mixing desk for his multilayered wall of noise guitar sound that is pinned to the ground by the heaviness of the rhythm section of Pól and Simon. We heard this on Spirit and Storm already, so the only surprise is the way they have managed to take that basic blueprint and give it a complete overhaul to fit this album's definite dark feel.

And there is where Alan steps in and truly comes to his own, I think. The time spent in Void of Silence obviously did him "good", in that he sounds sadder, gloomier, more desperate and angrier than ever before. Hear him roar and vent his bitterness on "End Of All Times", wail his sorrows on the staggering album highlight "Coffin Ships", or snarl his hatred on "Tragedy's Birth".It's nearly impossible not to feel a little bit guilty that we're getting such enjoyment listening to what almost sounds like the public exorcism of his inner demons. Though the melancholy feel is ever present on all tracks, the effect would not be quite as devastating without Alan's plaintive, melodramatic, suffered vocals, that make this album unique in that it achieves more than most bands who devote themselves to one single range of emotions do, and beats most of them on their turf. This is in some aspects darker than most Black Metal bands, folksier than most Folk Metal bands, and gloomier than most Doom Metal bands.

Ultimately, that's what is setting them apart from the rest of the pack. They have forged a sound that is all ecompassing, that can portray a wide array of emotions, and still sound instantly recogniseable, and with an identity of its own. The perfect score, is, thereore not a mark I attribute lightly. Flawed as all human creators are, they can sometimes summon forth works of art that are, quite simply, flawless. This is one of them.