1. Where Greater Men Have Fallen 2. Babel's Tower 3. Come To Flood 4. The Seed Of Tyrants 5. Ghosts Of The Charnel House 6. The Alchemist’s Head 7. Born To Night 8. Wield Lightning To Split The Sun2014 Metal Blade Records
by Daniel Marsicano
Though Ireland's Primordial has been together in some incarnation since the late '80s, it wasn't until 2007's To The Nameless Dead that their stock rose among metal listeners. It's not like the band was churning out crap before this album — A Journey's End and Storm Before Calm are just a few of their quality releases — but none of them seem to catch on the way that their sixth studio album did. Ask any fan of the band's what their favorite release is and a majority will praise To The Nameless Dead. It was the right amalgamation of folksy splendor and blackened menace. Then they went through a well-publicized rough patch around 2010, including drummer Simon O'Laoghaire departing and returning to the band within a short period. However, they didn't let that misstep derail their career. Redemption at the Puritan's Hand, put out in 2011, was a strong record that was overshadowed to some degree as a result of To The Nameless Dead's flawlessness. That seems to be a burden that will surround any contemporary record from Primordial, Where Greater Men Have Fallen included. So it's really up to the individual to take the band's eighth album at its face value, without mindlessly doing a track-by-track comparison to past efforts. In that regard, it's another stellar performance by the five-piece, reaching lofty heights both musically and vocally. They have a knack for putting intent behind every musical aspect, and that's a necessary skill with songs that go seven and eight minutes almost consistently. The title track is a hard-charging opener with that distinct Primordial sound that really isn't matched by any other band. It's as strong a start as any of their albums, with a stirring chorus and inspired vocals from Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga). His melodic wails have a storyteller quality behind them, and he only seems to get sharper as the years wear on. He isn't always the central focus though; take for example "Born to Night," which spends half of its nine minutes as a simmering instrumental jam that implodes at the right moment. "The Seed of Tyrants," on the other hand, does not wait to unleash its black metal. Once Averill roars out "Traitors!" bedlam begins. The percussion takes on a blast-heavy approach, and the guitars fly by, almost becoming a blur at moments. The track is a solid boost after a few mid-tempo cuts, and that boost is only accelerated on "The Alchemist's Head." Averill's raspy screams reign supreme, and though it's not as fast as "The Seed of Tyrants," it's thicker in tone. Though known to have folk elements, there aren't any goofy bagpipes or time-killing interludes present. That isn't Primordial's deal; however, closer "Wield Lightning to Split the Sun" has a subtle acoustic melody in the beginning that leads to an anthemic conclusion to the album. It's one of the best songs out of the bunch, and combined with the excellent "Born to Night," makes for a finish alone worth going through the album's hour-long running length to experience. The obvious question Primordial fans will have is this: Is Where Greater Men Have Fallen on the same level of To The Nameless Dead? The simple answer is no, but it's damn close. Every band has an album that is so top notch and so well-regarded that it's near impossible to match it. Where Greater Men Have Fallen is as good as Redemption at the Puritan's Hand, though this one left a more indelible impression on this writer than that album did a few years ago. Primordial has not subsided in quality yet, and this album shouldn't be ignored by those already looking towards the future. Bottom Line: Where Greater Men Have Fallen is another superb album from a band whose discography is stacked with them.