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To The Nameless Dead - Primordial

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Primordial / Audio CD released 2007-11-19 at Metal Blade

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      20.07.2009 15:46
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      Excellent pagan folk/black metal

      As the accompanying booklet explains, Primordial's sixth full length 'To The Nameless Dead' is themed around national identity, not in any xenophobic or politically narrow sense, but rather in the more abstract sense of the importance of connection with and celebration of one's ancestors, whomever they may be. Both the lyrics and the extensive liner notes that accompany them in the booklet are focused around rejection of the modern globalist vision of all of humanity as one homogenous monocultural mass whereby the traditional and cultural fabric of individual nations is seen as largely unimportant, and these words are accompanied by old sepia-toned pictures depicting scenes of sacrifice and ruination in defence of national ideals, including photographs of American Civil War dead, the hellish crater-filled landscape of the Somme, rows of makeshift Great War graves and vast fields of white marble crosses, ruined second war cities, and numerous pictures of assorted rebels, enemy soldiers and patriots being executed by hanging or firing squad.

      It's possible to see this as a pro-imperialist stance, but considering that Primordial hail from Ireland this hardly seems plausible. Rather, 'To The Nameless Dead' is concerned with the importance of having a sense of historical roots and ancestral identity, whilst at the same time bearing witness to the tragedy and suffering that defending one's national identity inevitably entails. It should be mentioned though that this is a largely apolitical stance, concerned only with resistance against the steady erosion and dilution of individual cultures and traditions the world over, rather than advocating the superiority of any one society or culture over another.

      To quote the booklet:

      "I stand upon this earth but for the blood of my ancestors. Men and women who made massive selfless sacrifices. The machine that grinds the wheels would have you placated, sedated, confused, distracted while they sell your culture, trade your history and crush your empathy with the enduring will of the human spirit. When I walk the streets of towns and cities all over this world I see statues of long dead men and women. Their voices almost rising up, imploring me, mocking me, standing guard over the centuries. "Where is your Fight? ...is it for this that we died...?"

      Naturally, Primordial occasionally get accused of being nazis because they dare to openly celebrate both paganism and White European history and culture, but more than a cursory glance reveals that their approach is an abstract and idealist one of championing of the human spirit the world over, across all races and cultures, whilst rejecting any system that is seen to pervert or suppress the true nature of man, such as Christianity, Fascism or unrestrained Capitalism. Clearly concepts of national identity become inevitably entangled with such systems, but Primordial's championing of modern and historical forms of national identity still makes sense here when one considers that the emphasis is on the importance of retaining one's sense of roots and of connection with one's ancestors down through the centuries, whilst at the same time acknowledging that celebrating where we all came from and the sense of identity that the pursuits of our ancestors has afforded us need not equate to imperialist/xenophobic aggression and overt intolerance in the way we operate as individuals and nations today. Empires come and go but their peoples survive them.

      It might seem like I'm going overboard describing the band's ideology here, but I 've done so because this is so intrinsically related to the fabric and style of their music as to be essentially inseperable. Given that they are a heathen black metal band, the music here harks back to pre-modern, pre-Christian and Pre-Roman pagan tribalism in terms of atmosphere, consisting of epic, ominous, heavily Celtic folk-influenced, wall-of-sound black/pagan metal similar in style to the later work of fellow national identity-oriented Ukranian peers Drudkh.

      Like Drudkh, 'To The Nameless Dead' has a sound that is at once sorrowful and filled with stoic pride, full of raw, sadly-melodic riffs that evoke images of darkened skies and wind-lashed, green and mountainous landscapes. The songs have a very organic and rousing feel to them, ebbing and flowing fluidly, subtly employing martial drums, tribal rhythms, clean acoustic strumming and frequent furious tremelo-riffing, with masterful use of momentum and employing a careful balance between mournful despondency and jagged primal fury. As with Drudkh the emphasis is on repetitive use of drawn out, folky and ancient-sounding riffs, and the songs are occasionally bolstered by stirring melodic guitar lines and overlaid with the powerful and dramatic vocals of frontman A.A. Nemtheanga. These consist primarily of lamenting clean vocals, but Nemtheanga also employs sorrowful, gravelly cries and low rasping growls, made all the more powerful by their selective placement as the songs rise and fall and alternately build and jettison their gloomy and portentous momentum. Some may find his clean vocals a little melodramatic, but I think they suit the music perfectly.

      The songs all have a similar feel to them, but there is still plenty of musical variation and subtle changes in tone throughout, with lots of depth that takes multiple listens to properly uncover. The album flows nicely as a whole, seamlessly merging celtic folk melodies and alternately sorrowful and raging raw black metal throughout before closing with the epic 8 minute track 'No Nation On This Earth', a hugely rousing song that builds to a lengthy and engaging folky plateau before plunging into an immensely rousing and beautiful series of plunging and rising riffs overlaid with subtle lamenting melodies in the second-half, bolstered all the while by Nemtheanga's dramatic vocals and bringing the album to a suitably moving and spectacular close.

      'To The Nameless Dead 'is a brilliantly executed album, brimming over with intense emotions of sadness and anger, battered hope and stoic pride. Bombastic and stirring, its an album that is well-suited to hiking across moors, hills and mountains to, and is easily the highlight of Primordial's career thus far. The limited digibook version comes with 40-odd pages of lyrics and artwork, with the album CD at one end and a bonus live CD featuring Primordial's performance at the 2006 Rock Hard Festival in Germany at the other, and is definitely worth paying a little extra for. A fantastic album, and a must-have for fans of folk/black metal.

      Album CD Tracklisting-

      1. Empire Falls 08:02
      2. Gallow's Hymn 05:55
      3. As Rome Burns 09:15
      4. Failures Burden 06:37
      5. Heathen Tribes 08:18
      6. The Rising Tide 01:33
      7. Traitor's Gate 06:49
      8. No Nation On This Earth 08:13

      Total playing time 54:42

      Live CD Tracklisting-

      1. The Golden Spiral (07:27)
      2. The Gathering Wilderness (07:24)
      3. Sons Of The Morrigan (06:55)
      4. The Coffin Ships (08:30)
      5. Song Of The Tomb (06:33)
      6. Gods To The Godless (07:15)

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      • More +
        11.02.2009 11:47
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        Not a stand out metal album

        To The Nameless Dead is Primordial's most recent offering of ear bludgeoning noise, the Irish bands album contains 8 tracks and a bonus DVD containing tracks taken from a live concert in 2006.

        Primordial seemlessly fuse black metal and celtic metal, the vocals of A.A. Nemtheanga sound like a mad man ranting and whilst initially seeming extremely powerful, soon seem to become a bit old.

        The band themselves described the album as having a "real f***ing drum sound", and he's not exaggerating, the drumming is relentless in this album, so much so that it seems to lack a bit of thought at times, this is made up for on the melodic tunes, in particular "Gallows Hymn" which is full of feeling and perfect timing rather than robotic like beating of the skins. The music on this track swirves in and out of energy and calm perfectly. Ultimately the lyrics are slightly boring, too many of the tracks are a let down and I find their to be a "wall of noise" sound, which makes it a little too muffled for my liking.

        It's not a bad effort by Primordial, a band I've never fully been a fan of. The vocals seem to be over dramatic for rather tedious lyrics and it just doesn't do it for me though.

        1. "Empire Falls" - 8:02
        2. "Gallows Hymn" - 5:55
        3. "As Rome Burns" - 9:15
        4. "Failures Burden" - 6:37
        5. "Heathen Tribes" - 8:18
        6. "The Rising Tide" - 1:33
        7. "Traitors Gate" - 6:49
        8. "No Nation On This Earth" - 8:13

        * Bonus DVD tracks (recorded at the 2006 Rock Hard Festival):

        1. "The Golden Spiral"
        2. "The Gathering Wilderness"
        3. "Sons Of The Morrigan"
        4. "The Coffin Ships"
        5. "Song Of The Tomb"
        6. "Gods To The Godless"

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      • Product Details

        Disc #1 Tracklisting
        1 Empire Falls
        2 Gallows Hymn
        3 As Rome Burns
        4 Failures Burdens
        5 Heathen Tribes
        6 Rising Tide
        7 Traitors Gate
        8 No Nation On This Earth