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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!