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The Gathering Wilderness

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Album Review

In their early days, Primordial played a hybrid of black metal and pagan metal inspired by their native Ireland. Over time, their sound became more idiosyncratic, arguably culminating on The Gathering Wilderness. The album features one of the best recordings ever heard in metal. It may not be as loud as its contemporaries, but that's because it avoids over-compression and keeps its dynamics. The drums sound beautifully natural, guitars sizzle and burn, and the production retains a ragged edge that perfectly fits the material. Here, Primordial fully integrate their homeland's stirring melodies into an electric framework. Rolling 6/8 rhythms propel this Irish longboat forward. Alan Averill's hyper-passionate vocals take getting used to, but they're heart-swelling. In "End of All Times," he howls "I feel like a wounded animal/In the dying throes," and you believe him. "The Coffin Ships" finds Primordial at their darkest, as glowering clean tones give way to martial walls of distortion. The highlight is the title track, which rumbles with menacing toms, droning melodies, and chant-like vocals. The best metal stands for something; this record speaks for one's soul, one's homeland, and metal itself. Utterly magnificent.


Formed: 1991 in Skerries, Ireland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1987, Irish death/thrash metal outfit Primordial began primarily as a cover band, peppering their sets with the occasional original tune as their confidence grew. Singers came and went, and the band eventually settled into a groove in the early '90s, recording their first demo, Dark Romanticism, in 1993 for around 50 pounds. The EP sold over a thousand copies and the group found themselves heralded as frontrunners in the burgeoning second-wave black metal movement. Primordial signed with...
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The Gathering Wilderness, Primordial
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