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Primordial - Spirit the Earth Aflame (Hammerheart Records)

Heavy Metal and Ireland - the combination never looked good, did it? For all of our U2's and Corrs, we have never produced a musical force capable of taking on the giants that are Iron Maiden and Metallica. (Yes, I am aware of Lizzy, but let's not split hairs here, they were hardly metal, were they?) Many tried and failed miserably - Killer Watt, anyone? - and though there was always a strong following for extreme music in this tiny island of ours, for some reason (back-biting, bitching, begrudgery?) no one quite managed to 'make it'.

It saddens me to say that the Irish music press has all but ignored Ireland's finest Heavy Metal band, Primordial, with this, their third offering. A pity really, as quality Irish records such as this come along once every blue moon, and put many of their fellow-country men to shame. I mentioned the Corrs - there is more Gaelic influences and musical wonderment on this album than in the Corrs back catalogue, (see 'the cruel sea' for example), and, I would dare say, many of the Irish traditional bands bashing out a tune in smoke filled pubs.

Fronted by the omni-presence of AA Nemtheanga, poet, scholar, intellectual, he has a vocal range which can soothe the angriest of souls then scream like a man possessed. It makes for a unique style in a genre of musical exorcists. And as for the combined musicianship of guitarist C MacUilliam (surely greatness awaits?), bassist P MacGawlaigh and drummer S O'Laoghaire, they weave and mesmerise the listener. I dare you not to be swept away with 'The soul must sleep'- astounding. Primordial has successfully played in Europe, and have to their credit managed to build up quite a substantial following. It's not hard to see why. A major break as support for one of the big boys would be most welcome, but so would recognition in their homeland by the great unwashed. Do not ignore them.

by Ken McBlek

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