Primordial - _Storm Before Calm_
by: Pedro Azevedo (
In my experience, metal bands frequently tend to soften up with each successive album. Of course there are many more who start out brutal and just keep searching for more aggression with every new album, but what I have seldom found is a band who have grown considerably harsher after debuting in more tranquil fields. Fair enough, Primordial's debut album _Imrama_ [CoC #8] was quite black, so they don't entirely fit this pattern; but if one only considers their other three albums, then they become a bit of an exceptional case in the metal world. _A Journey's End_ [CoC #33] was much doomier, more sombre and introspective than _Imrama_. With _Spirit the Earth Aflame_ their music became more warlike, while still retaining most of the characteristics of its predecessors. The opening track on _Storm Before Calm_, however, is easily the fastest and harshest song Primordial have written since _Imrama_, and the album as a whole is again heavier than its predecessor. But much as this fast-paced album opener may be excellent in its own right, it also serves to greatly enhance the impact of the mid-paced track that follows: by contrast, "Fallen to Ruin" comes across as an even more powerful warlike dirge than it would have been capable of on its own. "Cast to the Pyre" comes next, again slower and more morose than the previous track. Primordial have no qualms about the length of their compositions or arranging them in any way they see fit, and although this particular track is lengthy and to a certain extent repetitive, it still works very well. But as soon as it finishes, "What Sleeps Within" makes its demonic appearance and the speed and harshness levels go up again, only to fade into the album's instrumental track. This precedes the record's last couple of songs (bear in mind the average length is about six to seven minutes), which consist of a mid-paced song with typical Primordial guitar work, and a drawn-out atmospheric piece. Overall, besides several sped up passages, there is also significantly less clean singing, replaced by various kinds of rasped vocals throughout the album. The Primordial touch is definitely still there though, be it in the highly distinctive bits of guitar work, drumming or vocals. Ireland's finest aim to sound more majestic on _Storm Before Calm_, again with a warlike feel to their music, and succeed at that, coming across as believable, authentic and inspired. Third winner in a row for Primordial, and an excellent record indeed.
(article published 9/1/2002)
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