Spirit the Earth Aflame
The surprise record that•s been on nearly every worth-his-salt •head•s tongue last year, Primordial•s Spirit the Earth Aflame masterwork finally sees domestic release (albeit delayed), living up to and actually exceeding the hype heaped upon it by the metal press worldwide. Approximating the disembodied, stiflingly violent atmosphere of The Cure•s Pornography opus infiltrating the lifeblood of Amorphis• Elegy or even Borknagar•s equally classic The Olden Domain, Spirit the Earth Aflame fully epitomizes the oft-abused, much-ballyhooed tag •epic•: long and loping, exhausting yet engaging, and, above all, damn near paralyzing in the most wintry of ways. Funny thing is, Primordial are a metal band and they•re from Ireland, at least securing novelty-level curiosity from erstwhile punters, but the Celtic clichés that have long shackled many an Irish group • metal or otherwise (hello, Cruachan, we•re looking in your direction•) • are nowhere in sight here. Instead, the quartet strive for something seemingly unattainably earthy yet not of this earth, hovering above the stratosphere while simultaneously looking down from and up at it, guitarist C. MacUilliam•s Robert Smith-esque hypnotic simplicity and intimidating frontman A.A. Nemtheanga•s prophet-of-doom/troll-of-the-forest duality being the foremost signifiers of this fact. Altogether, the quartet fluently mixes metal idioms like the masters they•ve now become, and what thusly emerges is a unified piece of art: grandiose without being pompous, panoramic yet still able to stand on its own outside of contextual boundaries, the quintessential •album.• That•s right • an album, not a mere collection of songs. (Metal bands, a word to the wise: us critics love these sorts of things.). A Celtic-frosted feast if there ever was one, Spirit the Earth Aflame indeed.
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