Primordial - _Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_
(Metal Blade, 2011)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
Since we started the CoC Album of the Year award in 2003, Primordial soon became the only band that could claim to have won the award every time they released an album. Such was the case with _The Gathering Wilderness_ in 2005 and _To the Nameless Dead_ in 2007 -- the first of which with considerable ease. Yet last year's _Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_ failed so miserably to repeat the feat of its predecessors that it didn't even feature in the choices of any of our writers, which were otherwise generally consistent with the past. Could this really be such a wretched effort by Ireland's finest metal export?

I consider _The Gathering Wilderness_ one of the three best albums released this century, and that might go some way to explaining my feelings about _Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_. This latest effort falls prey to a relatively common foe: the band's crippling difficulty to either outdo themselves or find new ways to communicate their art. The best things on this record mostly remind you of their more inspired moments of yore, while the rest falls meekly into a predictable mould.

None of this is really a problem if you analyse _RatPH_ in isolation. Here is a thoroughly well written and performed album, with a unique style and a potent mix of emotion and warlike spirit; I would certainly prefer listening to this album than the vast majority of what's been released lately. But does it stand out as an album you would be driven to play over and over again if you already owned the band's finest efforts? Do a fair proportion of these songs demand a place among the band's finest? I don't think so. Solid and competent as it is, I can't help the feeling that there's too much of just going through the motions in this album for a band as supremely talented as Primordial, which results in a comparatively forgettable entry in their discography.

_Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_ is also a long album, with eight tracks that average eight minutes each. Due to the rather uniform nature of the songs, this tends to dilute its best moments (almost all of which take place in the guitar department). As usual, long albums require even more inspiration to maintain momentum, and this time there's just not all that much.

I still think the future will continue to bring us truly outstanding albums from Primordial. For the time being however, _Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_ serves only a temporary fix after four years of studio silence from the band. For those who have been closely following their career, I doubt it will cause anything close to the impact of its more illustrious predecessors.

(article published 4/3/2012)

5/19/1999 P Azevedo Primordial: Dark Songs of Erenn
12/2/2007 K Sarampalis 10 Primordial - To the Nameless Dead
3/10/2005 P Azevedo 9.5 Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness
9/1/2002 P Azevedo 9 Primordial - Storm Before Calm
8/12/2000 P Azevedo 9 Primordial - Spirit the Earth Aflame
1/15/2000 P Azevedo 9 Primordial - The Burning Season
9/1/1998 P Azevedo 9 Primordial - A Journey's End
3/14/1996 N Bassett 8 Primordial - Imrama
2/20/2006 P Azevedo Primordial / Ceasa / The Ransack O Discerning Portuguese Metalheads, Where Are Ye?
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