When Irish heroes, PRIMORDIAL, finally gained the recognition and success that was well-deserved for their last masterpiece, To the Nameless Dead, it was only natural that the anticipation and expectations for its follow-up would be high. Well, the band have certainly met the challenge with the excellent Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand. While it may not be on the same godly level as its predecessor, it is certainly not very far from it.
Stylistically, this is still PRIMORDIAL and their unique style of Irish folk influenced black metal remains intact. Those familiar strummed guitar chords and rhythms are still there. The songs average around the 8:00 minute mark and are journeys/stories that PRIMORDIAL are known for. Overall, the pace of the album is on the slower end of things. The dead serious tone and the slow pace of most of the songs may weigh down the momentum and energy at times but never the passion behind them.
Vocalist Alan Nemtheanga plays a more prominent role here as his vocals lead the rest of the band more than ever. Perhaps this is due to the guitars/bass parts taking more of a background role on much of the songs. Regardless of the reasoning, Alan Nemtheanga delivers the kind of passionate, charismatic, and profound performance that continues to separate him from the rest of metal vocalists. Few frontmen in metal are such eloquent and powerful lyric writers. One would be absolutely foolish to disregard the lyrics.
The first two songs on Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand start things off a bit more subdued and somber, especially when compared the epic opener of “Empire Falls” from the last album. The energy level rises afterwards though. “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” is the epitome of passion, will, and soul in metal. “God’s Old Snake” has a great sense of urgency and tension. When the tension is released at the peak of the crescendos, it is an awesome moment to behold. “The Mouth of Judas” creates such a serious and grave atmosphere that it feels like the air has been sucked out of your surroundings. Album closer, “Death of the Gods,” is a prime example of how powerful, passionate, and solemn PRIMORDIAL can be. It leaves quite an impression.
They are still hungry. They are still one of the underground’s best bands and epitomize the values and qualities that make this genre of music so great. Lastly, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand is another fine album from Ireland’s greatest metal band. (Metal Blade Records)