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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand: B+

Despite the fact that it is a very good album, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand will probably be seen as a disappointment within the Primordial discography. After coming off the Irish metal band’s arguable magnum opus, To the Nameless Dead in 2007, many have met the group’s newest album with significant criticism, something that was probably inevitable considering how very rapturous the acclaim for To the Nameless Dead was.

While I maintain that Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand is a great, borderline excellent, album, I can understand the criticism it has garnered, most of which lies in the album’s flow. Lead singer Naihmass Nemtheanga sings lines like pronouncements. He rarely intones actual notes, instead giving tempo-driven speeches over the arrangements the rest of the group creates. He rarely rhymes, so his proclamations often sound like narration of the epic battles the rest of the group are fighting. While this has been a very effective formula for most of Primordial’s work, on Redemption, it can get tiresome, as some songs feel like they could go on forever. And when some tracks are eight minutes long with little musical variation or guitar solos to break up the insistent strumming, things can get tedious.

However, this is a minor qualm about the album. While it is awkward when Nemtheanga seems to run out of rousing diction on “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” (“To those who did not dare to sing / Out of tune / Or sing… a different song!”) the guy gets in some galvanizing lines as the band relentlessly drives on, particularly on “The Mouth of Judas”. It’s not astounding, but Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand would be a great addition to any metal band’s discography, even one as stacked as Primordial’s. I’m just hoping that with this album, the group can learn from their few shortcomings so that they can fine-tune their style to release another album as great as To the Nameless Dead.


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