|Review: Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand|
|Redemption at the Puritan's Hand|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal
Review online: July 24, 2011
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
I've had to let this one sit for a while, as this underwhelmed me at first listen, and I kept coming back to it to spin it again. Finally I have a grip on this massive album, and I have to say that while there are things about it I really like, it falls short of this band's past masterworks. Primordial were in the ugly position of having to follow up The Gathering Wilderness and To the Nameless Dead - a pair of albums pretty much impossible to match. They said before this was recorded that they wanted to make a darker, less accessible album, and that they have certainly done.
I have one major problem with this album, and I'll get it right out of the way: the mix sucks. I don't mean it is unprofessional, but it favors the drums and vocals over the guitars, fundamentally altering the sound. The guitar tone is weak as well - smooth and without much bite, overdubbed to the point of facelessness, and too damned far back in the mix. In the past Primordial have mixed their sound into a wall of chaotic noise that assaults the listener like a tidal wave, but here the instruments are firmly in the background compared to Nemtheanga's vocals. I worry that it signals the onset of Lead Singer Disease - that condition of arrogance that will eventually lead a vocalist to Bono-like levels of ego and destroy him. I hope not.
I like the songwriting on this really well, and songs like "Lain With The Wolf", "Bloodied Yet Unbowed" and "The Mouth of Judas" flash all the passion and fury that this band is known for. They would, however, sound even better if the guitars didn't sound so flat. The riffing is far less dense this time, with a more straightforward and yet less anthemic approach. The whole presents a darker and unfriendlier sound that would be even better if the guitars sounded unfriendly at all, but the smooth tone acts like a wagging tail on a snarling wolf - undermining the ostensible rage.
So, a weaker effort for Primordial. I can see what they were trying to do, I just don't think they nailed it this time. If they want to go on in this direction I am all for that, so long as they remember to turn their fucking amps up loud. Darkness and despair are all well and good, but on this album Primordial sound oddly restrained, and that's not what works for them.
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