Primordial - Storm Before Calm Review
by Matt Hensch
"Storm Before Calm" rests uncomfortably between Primordial's "Spirit the Earth Aflame" and "The Gathering Wilderness," two opuses often labeled the group's finest hour. Declaring which one is better is arbitrary to the point; that being the somberness which overshadows the black sheep of Primoridal's herd. The linear notes within Metal Blade's reissue of "Storm Before Calm" have some honest testimonies from Alan Averill about the album's unstable tenor, including the original label's cracking dependability and other tribulations which mildly plagued the writing, recording, and release of the work that would become "Storm Before Calm." But none of the negativity that hindered Primoridal at the time seems to have damaged the album's overall ability. In fact, this is still pristine and majestic, overflowing with Celtic vibes and the solstice-inducing aura that seems to occur whenever Primordial appears.
Musically Primoridal turned the black metal hex up to Everest, producing some of the heaviest and most extreme material they've ever written. "The Heretic's Age," for instance, immediately asphyxiates the mood with tremolo riffs baptized in Celtic serenades, blast beats, and Averill's versatile voice. It's strong and bombing, and certainly one of the record's top cuts. The crashing melodies are present, of course, and nothing stops Primordial from dipping into the mesmerizing folk alchemy they've been able to summon without mandolins or traditional Celtic instruments that most folk metal bands deeply depend on. The complete product and atmosphere is fueled by Primordial's dominating demeanor as usual, yet the overall process still appears deeply enthralling.
However, Primordial is a tribe of moods; they've walked down a darkened path throughout "The Gathering Wilderness" and moved on a semi-prideful terrain during "To the Nameless Dead," for instance. "Storm Before Calm" intermediately matches a vibe of anger and frustration channeled through the melancholic waves of "Cast to the Pyre" and the album's unapologetic fierceness quite wonderfully as well. "Fallen to Ruin" overflows with prodigious emotion wherever it roams; overall another stellar anthem. "Sons of the Morrigan" is classic Primordial from start to finish: delightful melodies, sensational riffs, glorious vocals, and other Primordial-ish gifts. Alan Averill sounds marvelous as usual, preaching those passionate hymns of despair and gloom beyond the power of words...simply incredible.
The production is much clearer and leaner than the raw, muddy feel which defined the older creation known as "Spirit the Earth Aflame," a strong premonition for the work that would later appear on their Metal Blade material. I may be in the minority here, but I think this album is amazing. "Cast to the Pyre" and "Sons of the Morrigan" are some of the best tracks Primordial has ever crafted, and that isn't mentioning the soothing magic within "Hosting of the Sidhe" or the fierce picture painted throughout "The Heretic's Age." "Storm Before Calm" might be considered a step down in terms of substance, yet it's certainly two leaps forward in more regards than one.
Primordial - Storm Before Calm
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