Monday, December 15, 2014

Primordial "Where Greater Men Have Fallen"

Primordial Where Greater Men Have Fallen

By: Chris Davison

I finally saw Primordial live, this year, at the Bloodstock Open Air festival. Of course, I'd seen them there before, but not before vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga had lost his voice. It's fair to say that Primordial's epic, sweeping hymns do tend to work better with words. Hot on the heels of this performance, (which, by the way, I found mesmerising) comes Where Greater Men Have Fallen, the latest masterwork from the Irish band. I've consistently found their work engaging, fascinating, and uncompromising, so I was delighted when thee editor posted this to me to review.

Primordial, while drenched in the history of being a black metal band, have long since left that label behind. While taking some of the key signatures of the movement – in particular, the tendency for rapid riffing and a droning tone, the Primordial of yore has much more to do with epic doom metal and folk metal. Here you will find huge, vast soundscapes stretching as far as the mental landscape will allow. With an instantly recognisable guitar tone, this album has really seen Primordial at their most progressive. When the opening riffs of the brilliant track “Come the Floods” erupted from my speakers in its almost eight minute glory, the haunting atmosphere and melancholic chord progression marked Primordial as a band at the very top of their game. The rhythm section, itself an understated but ruthlessly effective part of the band, add a frequently insistent heartbeat to the music. A A Nemtheanga's voice, a clean, but sorrow drenched instrument of dread, waxes and wanes to the tidal surges of the music. There is really no one who can add so much gravity and depressive weight to a vocal delivery in modern heavy metal.

This is not to say that Where Greater Men Have Fallen doesn't have its fare share of raging moments; the opening sections of “The Seed of Tyrants” will take you back to the second wave of black metal's 90's heyday, being, as it is, a collision between a furious aural storm and an angry hornet. The versatility of the band continues with “Ghosts Of The Charnel House,” which comes across like the bastard offspring of modern Candlemass with the melodic sensibilities of classic Thin Lizzy.

It goes without saying that each of the eight tracks weighs in at over five and a half minutes, with the lion's share clocking in around the eight minute mark. This is not an album to be hurried, but an absorbing, mature offering that rewards repeat listens. Where Greater Men Have Fallen is an all around excellent album.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Midnite Communion II: Out of the Woods

Bands: Cough, INVDRS, Atriarch, and Sorxe

Venue: The Complex, Glendale, California

Date: November 15th, 2014

Midnite Collective and the Bitchcraft Trading Post recently teamed up to produce a combination doom metal concert and pagan-themed arts and crafts show at the Complex in Glendale, California. For a change of pace, I conducted a formal review of the show here at Last Rites.


Bitchcraft Trading Post

The lighting...







The t-shirt haul!

Recent review (I took a few weeks off)...

Bloodbath Grand Morbid Funeral

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Two Concerts

A brief look at a couple of recent concerts. I took in the second night of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats' back to back performances at the Roxy in West Hollywood late last month (my official writeup at Heavy Metal at can be found here), and then, on Halloween of all nights, the King Diamond Tour dropped in on The Wiltern in Los Angeles. I didn't attend the show in an official capacity for (due to unrelated issues), but I snapped off a few pictures, for what it's worth, on my iPhone.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

King Diamond

The t-shirt haul!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Chris Davison Reviews Albums From Fen And Bog Oak

Thanks to the mighty powers of album allocation, I have a brace of reviews for you this week, based around all things swampy. For non-British folks out there, a “fen” is a piece of flat, reclaimed swampland. It is also a large expanse of frankly desolate countryside in a mostly forgotten corner of these sceptre isles, and indeed, where yours truly calls home. Today's reviews are both from bands claiming kinship with all things swampy; two bands and two very different approaches to their art.

Fen Carrion Skies (Code 666)

First up are Fen, with their very British sounding take on the black metal skeleton. There are a host of bands in the UK that play the post-black metal approach, using the tropes of the genre, while adding ambient or alternative rock flourishes. Fen happens to be one of the best, and though I have dipped in and out of their discography, it's fair to say that Carrion Skies - a six track album, maintains their high standards. Within the first song, “Our Names Written in Embers – Part 1,” there are furious passages of typical blackened caterwauling, ethereal passages that seem to howl as the very winds across the fenland landscape. Droning, doom-laden sections eventually give way to a stomping, mid-tempo, almost anthemic closing section.

Maintaining an effective production that gives clarity and brings order to what could otherwise be a chaotic melange of noise must have been quite a feat, but it's handled well here, with the excellent, mature song-writing being complimented by the accomplished polishing of the production. Carrion Skies is not the kind of album to be placed on to make noise in the background; this is a sophisticated piece of art that demands your attention, and rewards it fully. An excellent album all round, and not just for black metal aficionados.

Bog Oak A Treatise On Resurrection And The Afterlife (Svart Records)

Bog Oak, by contrast, bring dirty, down-tuned and fuzzy doom metal to the fore. Wait! Don't sign off just yet! I know, I know. Within the annals of doomy-metal, it seems that everyone is going for the “drowning in fuzz” approach, but Bog Oak stand out from the crowd. This four track EP does have plenty of bombast, and a ferocious vocal approach thanks to the somewhat unsettling rasp of Julie Seymour. There is, of course, a groove-laden syncopation to the music, but here it's less derivative than that of many of their peers, and with a palpably unsettling atmosphere and creepy melodies.  In particular, the second track, “The Resurrection Of Animals” has a closing section, drenched in feedback and menace that benefits from Julie's clean sung sections – sounding, by way of contrast, pretty esoteric and uncanny against the pounding drums and relentless attack of the guitar and bass. Another atypical, completely absorbing release; one that elevates Bog Oak above the pack.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two Eclipses

Through the beauty of celestial mechanics, the western United States was perfectly positioned to catch not one, but two, spectacular wonders. A total lunar eclipse graced our skies early in the morning of October 8th, only to be followed two weeks later by a partial solar eclipse, granting Los Angeles about 45% coverage. Coincidentally, one of the largest sunspot groupings ever observed was on the face of the Sun, directly facing the Earth at the time.

I “digiscoped” each eclipse by photographing directly through the eyepieces of my Dobsonian telescopes. The lunar eclipse pictures were taken by digiscoping through my 8-inch with a 40mm eyepiece; the partial solar eclipse pictures were taken through a 6-inch Dobsonian with a 32mm eyepiece.

The planet Uranus is visible to the right in this picture...

Clearing the decks of a backlog of reviews. Most of these have appeared at Heavy Metal at


Over at Metal Bandcamp, I had a chance to review the excellent new album from Temple Of Void...

Last, but not least, I've been horribly negligent in contributing to Last Rites lately (apologies to the great staff at LR), but I did manage to eke out a review...

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