Employing a compelling blend of doom and black metal with traditional Celtic music, Ireland's Primordial are an extreme metal band with a penchant for pairing sonic discord with huge swathes of melody. Since debuting in 1995, the band's pagan folk-metal has grown heavier and more idiosyncratic, culminating in the career highlights The Gathering Wilderness and The Nameless Dead, both of which saw the group adopting a more raw and spontaneous sound.
Based out of Skerries, County Dublin, Primordial were founded in 1987, primarily as a cover band, peppering their sets with the occasional original tune as their confidence grew. Singers came and went — they eventually settled on powerhouse frontman A.A. Nemtheanga — and the band settled into a groove in the early '90s, recording their first demo, Dark Romanticism, in 1993 for around 50 pounds. The EP sold over a thousand copies and Primordial found themselves heralded as frontrunners in the burgeoning second-wave black metal movement. Employing a lethal mix of doom and death, along with some elements of traditional Irish folk music, the band issued its debut album, Imrama, via Cacophonous Records in 1995. Subsequent LPs A Journey's End (1998), Spirit the Earth Aflame (2001), and Storm Before Calm (2002) brought the band's Celtic leanings closer to the forefront, but 2005's The Gathering Wilderness, their first outing for Metal Blade, signaled a bit of a sonic sea change. The LP and its 2007 follow-up The Nameless Dead, dialed back on some of the folk-metal elements and focused on first and second takes, resulting in their rawest set of material to date — the albums garnered critical acclaim both at home and abroad. The somber Redemption at the Puritan's Hand dropped in 2011, followed by the critically lauded Where Greater Men Have Fallen in 2014 and the concert album Gods to the Godless in 2016. Two years later, the band returned with their ninth studio long player, Exile Amongst the Ruins. ~ James Christopher Monger