“Exile Amongst the Ruins” is without a doubt one of the most anticipated and relatively long-awaited extreme metal albums in the last few years. Understandably, а four-year span of waiting is definitely a long time when talking about a band like Primordial. The Irish legends have already proven themselves to be a vital factor in the metal scene, thus their newest creation being one of the most important releases this year.
To summarize their activity over the last decade, Primordial have released not only some of the best records throughout their long and diverse career, but also in metal as a whole. The monumental and almost unbearably real “To the Nameless Dead” and “Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand” albums set the bar very high for the critically acclaimed and a bit controversial “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”, which, according to some fans and critics, didn’t manage to live up to the glory of its predecessors. It’s finally time to see if “Exile Amongst the Ruins” is ready to solidify their position among the top artists in the modern metal hierarchy, continuing their faultless album streak.
Primordial are well-known for their skillful ability to incorporate historical meaning and well-thought-out philosophical references into their work and “Exile Amongst the Ruins” is no exception. This time the band focuses on the era of Enlightenment, the classical European civilization and all the decadence that surrounds it. The self-destruction of humanity and the painful times of loss and desperation are some of the themes that, together with the exceptionally masterful composing, create an amazing balance between all the immersive feelings and thoughts provoked by the creative whole.
“Nail Their Tongues” makes for an epic and ceremonial start to the record, while covering it with a veil of mystery and historical ambiance from the very beginning. As it evolves further, the song partially reminds us of “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”’s heavy metal influenced sound but as soon as the vocals step in, everything turns into a genuine Primordial track. To be completely honest, the main riffs initially sound a bit monotonous but eventually, there appear to be many more surprises in the 9-minute-long composition. Near the middle of the song, the tempo starts to escalate and the emotional depth draws everything towards itself.
Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill has always been known for having one of the most recognizable and prominent voices in metal history and his vocal mastery doesn’t come as a surprise but now it seems that he might be coming very close to surpassing even himself. There are hardly any other singers that can make your hair stand on end the second their voice comes piercing through your mind but Alan Averill surely has mastered it.
At this point, everything begins to transcend into the black metal realm but the next track suddenly changes the direction of things. “To Hell or the Hangman” almost starts like the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack but soon enough turns out to be something completely different. It includes many tribal motifs and energetic vibes, all revolving around the never-ending riff chase. The third song in the album is another long one, which brings the Celtic side of Primordial to the fore. There seems to be a distinctive Paradise Lost influence here but Primordial’s own trademark charm manages to prevail.
To Hell Or The Hangman
We can also define a strong black and extreme metal guitar element present, but there are also numerous melodic metal influences all over the track. Soon after, it’s already time for the title song, which turns out to be one of the slower, more melodic and melancholic ones. The captivating and emotionally shattering delicate guitars in “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed” are slowly building up to the climax of the record, called “Stolen Years”, the shortest and quietest addition to “Exile Amongst the Ruins”. After this mind-bending experience, which words fail to describe, “Sunken Lungs” brings back the heavier energetic atmosphere.
The final piece bears the name “Last Call” and is again heavily saturated with emotions, certainly being one of the best moments on “Exile Amongst the Ruins”. According to the band’s frontman Nemtheanga, the future of “Exile Amongst the Ruins” seemed fairly uncertain in the beginning, with the band not being able to write and record any of the music together in the studio and having numerous other technical difficulties. But evidently, despite all that, all the troubles in the world can’t stop Primordial from releasing yet another monster of an album. We can only imagine how close to absolute perfection it would have been if the conditions were more favorable. In their case, however, in the end namely those imperfections make everything so outstanding and complete.
Run Time: 1:05:34
Label:Metal Blade Records
1. Nail Their Tongues
2. To Hell or the Hangman
3. Where Lie the Gods
4. Exile Amongst the Ruins
5. Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed
6. Stolen Years
7. Sunken Lungs