With Primordial and Winterfylleth both releasing new albums in 2014, it was a great thing to see two bands like this on the same bill, to share material from their latest releases. Having shared the bill in Manchester several years prior to this run of gigs, the veterans Primordial released another in a long line of stiring albums with 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'; whereas Winterfylleth released one of the absolute best albums of 2014 with 'The Divination of Antiquity'.
With Winterfylleth in the main support slot, Malthusian opened up the evenings proceedings. Shrouded in murky blue lights for most of their thirty minute set, the band mixed things up between blackened doom tempos and pure black metal blasts, to warm the growing crowd admirably. The guttural vocals and chugging, doomy pace were excellent throughout and set the scene for a great night.
One of the great plus points of the nights gig, was the lengthier set time for Winterfylleth. Having had their slot on the recent tour with Behemoth limited to a mere 20 minutes, the band had time to really showcase their great talent. With new guitarist Dan Capp stepping in for the run with Primordial, the band showed why they are one of the leading lights in UK black metal.
Opening with the title track from the bands latest release, Winterfylleth’s no frills stage presence is one of the bands endearing features. There is no need for black metal’s well known clichés to mask anything. The music is stunning; and clad all in black, the band can really take their music to vast extremes. The ferociousness of the blast beats and razor like guitars of 'The Divination of Antiquity' make for a visceral experience, whereas the Iron Maiden-esque intro and progressive pace to the mighty 'A Careworn Heart', is a thing of beauty. The middle section of another new track; 'Whisper of the Elements' also provides respite amongst its furious and snarling surroundings.
With cherry picked tracks from the bands back catalogue making up the set, Winterfylleth closed out their set with a glorious rendition of 'Defending The Realm' from their debut full length long player; 'The Ghost of Heritage'. Leaving the stage to rapturous applause from their hometown crowd, Winterfylleth again proved why they’re one of the best bands England has to offer. The band is playing several festivals around Europe this year, as well as a date in London in March; try and catch them if you can.
Where their Irish counterparts Malthusian, and brothers in arms Winterfylleth, are established but still carving their legacies, Primordial are the relative veterans of the scene. A scene that has embraced them, and seen their genesis over time allow them to become one of the most respected and revered black metal bands around.
‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ is Primordial’s eight studio album, and it is the follow up to the excellent ‘Redemption at the Puritans Hand’. On my initial listens to the new album I struggled with it, and I’m not sure why. After hearing more than half of it played live with the passion and vigour that Primordial possess, the album has taken on a new verve in my conscious. The opening track of the night and album title track is fantastic. Alan Averill’s painted face, stage demeanour and deeply passionate vocals raise the track to new levels. This is true of every single song that Primordial commits their name too. Other new tracks that were aired were the epic ‘Babel’s Tower ‘(which was accompanied by a fantastic video upon release), and the folk tinged ‘Wield Lightening To Split The Sun’.
The newer material sat very well with older tracks; which are rightfully deemed classics. It was great to hear ‘Gods to the Godless’ played very early in the set as it ensured the crowd were firmly on board with the staunch Eire natives. ‘The Coffin Ship’s’ from 2005 release, ‘The Gathering Wilderness’, is always a musical journey that tugs at the heart strings due to the lyrical and epic nature of the song. Averill’s emotional delivery of the sad story of the native Irish attempting to escape the great famine of the mid 1800’s is amazing. Two of the high points from ‘Redemption at the Puritans Hand’; ‘No Grave Deep Enough’ and the anthemic ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ gave strength to the bands latter day output. The band finished their heroic set with classic rock tinged ‘Empire Falls’ from 2007’s ‘To The Nameless Dead’. With hordes of Mancunian’s left wanting more; Primordial exited the stage to exultant applause after giving every ounce of what they had on stage.
Seeing Primordial is an experience that never gets boring. Their chest beating anthems and clinical musical delivery is magnificent. There only a few bands that can truly hold sway over a crowd and have them in the palm of their hands for as long as they like; Primordial are one such band. Assisted by the excellent Malthusian, and quite superb Winterfylleth, I feel privileged to have witnessed such a concert.
Words by: Dominic Walsh