Carrion's one second review: heads down. But...
First of all, I have to apologise everyone for taking so long with uploading this review so late; the photos have been up from the beginning and a more personal version of the review on my blog, but about putting it on Nightshade almost a month later I feel quite ashamed.
In my not at all humble opinion, there are no bands like Primordial. As to HELL, I did not have any particular feelings towards them other than your standard liking, and they have done a damn good job of luring me into their fanbase; damn good and dead easy. The set itself has done half of it, and as much as that was a promise of a disappointment (you know that story - marvelous set and music which is not worth a spit), I left London reborn. To make it all the more fun, HELL are a band with history and legacy. But then again, so is Primordial and the difference in genres (the former let's class as meaningful heavy metal, the latter... mmm well, they fall into my category of heathen metal, although it is quite black at times and not stricte heathen) which may make one question why the two toured together can quite easily be explained by the fact that both have a message, and passion for something more than beverages, groupies and grandpa's guitar.
O2 Islington in London is a stupidly small venue (in O2 Academy standards) and I do not take any pleasure from going there. Ironically enough, I have never seen it overly crowded - which is all the more surprising taken into account that there are some pretty damn good names playing there. Last month Orange Goblin in Oxford had a bigger venue and crowd, although the Primordial crowd cannot be denied decency - only once there was something thrown at the stage. Bouncers did nothing about it, but at least they were semi-friendly.
I was quite excited about seeing Winterfylleth live; I have known them for quite a while now and they did strike me as quite promising. Unfortunately, I did not leave the gig with that same impression, pretending the whole time that I was actually interested. Which is not to say Winterfylleth are bad; it is best to say that the originality or appealing vibe you get from listening through your speakers was missing. Allowing myself to be quite crude, the performance was simply as dull as it could get. Music aside, for it was a good soundtrack to my consumption of vodka ("what do you mean booze is not food?!"), for someone with my attention span it was not a good performance. A bunch of guys with guitars on stage, no big deal, now let's move on even if the music is good. Image lads, IMAGE. On this mysterious (sarcasm sign) pagan black metal stage you are not getting anywhere without it, regardless of your talent. And no, I do not feel sorry for being honest.
As for HELL - heads down, that's all I have to say. I am aware they have one performance and I understand repetitiveness could be considered a minus, yet I dare you point me to one member of the crowd who would be sick of it. We are not talking Taake here, for whom you have to have patience, just like the (oh, do not pardon me) crap like Turisas. David Bower (HELL, vocals) is a fantastic performer, and there is spirit, or heart and mind, that call-it-what-you-will in his every single move. Whipping oneself may seem quite drastic to some, but it only shows that the guys, HELL, treat what they do seriously, or at least have passion for what they do. And they are oh-such-a-pleasure! for the audience, something one has to experience, not read about. One more thing - I have never seen guys playing so well in unison. Is there a specific term for that? If you don't know HELL, please give them a go, I think you are in for quite a treat especially if you have a little nostalgia for the old (maybe also good) heavy metal of the 80s. HELL, it was an unspeakable pleasure, to the extent where I actually would class it as ART.
Primordial I have seen plenty of times. I could give you the playlist from Saturday and talk trough it, but let me take you for a casual stroll through some other things I have noticed. Admittedly, this is quite hard for me to say, since Primordial are and will be proudly one of my little precious musical treasures. In fact, and scold me all you will for saying this, they are the best we have after Bathory and bands like Windir. Note that I am avoiding strict blasphemy through comparison with Bathory. I am just saying in the world of heathen metal which is not worth a spit, tfoo, them and literary a couple of other bands are all we have.
Preceding Saturday, my most recent encounter with Primordial was Black Troll Winterfest 2011 in Germany, which was an unforgettable experience, especially since my emotions played a big part in it, being there with a great band and meeting fantastic people. Primordial themselves blew me away and they are the top of my playlist ever since. However, I did not have to write a review then, and I was happily snapping and enjoying myself, stroking my pagan pride, and I feel like that makes it an irrelevant experince. After that, I have recaped my impressions with some musicians who also saw Primordial at Hellfest 2011 with me. In fact I did not consult them - one had a go at me for putting Primodial on a pedestal. Now, as much as I would defend Primordial like a lioness would her cub, in the end I agreed that it was bad at Hellfest 2011, and I mean it. Since it is not particularly relevant here I will only say that drums had their own magic life; but worse was the fact that the band members seem each to their own... Excuse me Primordial, are you even a band?
I am young so I never experienced the beginning Primordial back in the 90s, and this is a short review about performance, but I got the same feeling from the May gig. I'm not disappointed. I am simply saying that it looks like Primordial is collapsing as a band- and gods forbid it! I am not suggesting they are actually falling apart, I am only judging what my senses experienced at a live performances and that is vocals + four other guys who probably drew straws and went together on stage. Spin that around it is only Nemtheanga (Alan Averill, vocals) who really matters on stage and as a fan I do feel like saying "why the fuck would I care?" if I still enjoy it.
Expanding a little on that, if you are familiar with Primordial I found the last album, Redemption at the Puritans Hand (2011) just as disappointing, especially since I have been looking forward to it a bit more than a lot. No song stands out, I can listen to it on repeat and only #2. Lain With the Wolves (please listen at the playlist on top) gives my heart some beating, while on the contrary with To The Nameless Dead (2007) I cannot control my feelings and every song is better than the other, and it is sweat and it is tears and it is joy in its beauty, and in the veins pulsing madly under my skin. It is so extreme that I hardly remember what other temporary music even existed in my life before that album; Redemption... what are trying to saying? If you do not know much about Primordial go and do some research and to defend myself I will just say - I know and I get the idea, yet the lyrics did not get through to me at all. At all.
Back to performance, Nemtheanga (vocals) is the man, full stop. In terms of being a musician and a performer both, and in his approach to what he does. Although he does not have the most amazing vocal range, the best word to describe his voice is simply piercing; it reached through your skin and twists the marrow in your bones, so does his image. I have respect, huge respect for his work.
The question is obviously whether all of that bothers you. If it does not, I am okay with that. It did not matter to me at the gig, it only occurred to me when I was ready to objectively reflect upon it. At the time it was the best gig I have seen this year, the best - as a matter of fact - since I can remember, probably My Dying Bride exactly a year ago. The best part of it is still blood (or water in this case) running down Nemtheanga's chest. Am I allowed to say that? Well, I am a human being even if a dead one - not a master of my own biology.
Alas, I cannot wait to see Primodial again. I will pay more attention to some details next time. Unfortunately the next time in my calendar would be Metaltown in Sweden, but it is on the same days as Hellfest. Apologies, my life with metal achieved its peak when I discovered the beauty of Moonsorrow.
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