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In a time where metal subgenres have become stained with monolithism to the point where any one band has become stylistically indistinguisable from the next, it’s always a pleasure to see the release of a new Primordial album for they sit in a subgenre all by themselves. That is to say, over the years, through their compositional integrity and no-compromise approach to making music, they’ve maintained a sound that is instantly recognisable as Primordial. An admirable feat in a scene that has, to a degree, become rhetorical and self-reflective. So here we have the Irishmen's latest offering, 'Redemption at the Puritan's Hand' which is refreshingly Primordial through and through. With its predecessor, 'To the Nameless Dead', a tough act to follow as it was by far the band's most successful release to date in terms of album sales and ubiquitous critical acclaim across the globe, how does 'Redemption at the Puritan's Hand' fare? Well, in one sense, comparisons between Primordial albums are kind of redundant as the band simply "do their thing" regardless, and they've done their thing once again, albeit perhaps the overall effect is slightly less consistent than on 'To the Nameless Dead'. Less consistent, that is, in terms of the quality of the song writing which alternates between great and fucking great. I would argue that 'To the Nameless Dead' was fucking great throughout whereas 'Redemption...' does, at times, lapse into just great. Still, that's no bad thing, right? If a band's weakest songs are still great then we're talking another mightily fine album from Alan "Nemtheanga" Averill and co. All Primordial idioms are present, both musically and vocally, as well as the occasional divergence into slightly different song writing territory such as on 'The Mouth of Judas' which is as probably as close to a 'ballad' as you'll ever hear from the band. Ballad it is not, of course, but the lighter approach in this track which oozes raw emotion is ever so slightly different from Primordial's general aesthetic, and Averill's vocals are some of the best he's ever delivered. That's true throughout the entire album - the man is renowned for his passionately emotive, yet melancholic, style of singing and here he sings his heart out, effectively, and affectively, conveying the album's lyrical themes of mortality, alienation, sacrifice, martyrdom etc in his inimitable style. With the shortest track over six minutes in length and the longest over nine, Primordial allow enough breathing space for musical motifs to develop within the context of epic sounding compositions which, when at their best, would urge me towards scoring them a full ten points but, alas, a few dips in quality makes 'Redemption...' a still very respectable eight and a half.
Metal Blade
Review by Mark Holmes
26th April 2011
1) No Grave Deep Enough
2) Lain with the Wolf
3) Bloodied Yet Unbowed
4) God's Old Snake
5) The Mouth of Judas
6) The Black Hundred
7) The Puritan's Hand
8) Death of the Gods
"...refreshingly Primordial through and through."