It seems like every band under the sun is playing at the moment. Scotland looks to be the place to be this weekend with not 1 but 2 stellar one day festivals on and indeed the hardiest at this show are travelling up overnight after it, or following the next morning. Sometimes you do feel a bit lazy waiting for the bands to come to you but many show true dedication and hats off to them. This one was never going to be affected by a poor turn out and sells out a few hours before doors open. We get the feeling that it’s been a bit of a mad scramble getting it set up but just later than the advertised time Crom Dubh tread the boards to an already busy venue. A quick refresher listen to 2015 album ‘Heimweh’ prior to the show made it all very evident that this London based act are a perfect opener for Primordial. It’s a regal start in more ways than one as guitars unspool and ‘Kings’ are introduced. Vocals are coarse and instrumentation thick as it gallops out the traps and there’s a heaving, heathen cleave as the song bristles and powers away. The band have a weathered Celtic vibe about the melodies behind the music as well as a choppy intensity and it sums up visions of wode clad warriors defending the ancient realms of Albion. There’s plenty of support too as fists are pumped in the air by the audience now rammed in down the front. The fearsome and fiery album title track thunders away on a bed of barraging drums and romps off on a massive charge, our fighting spirit is mustered up along with it, although we are all friends here. There is a scent of triumph, victory and more than a little sweat in the air. This one leaves more than a little giddy and the band who include members of the equally formidable Craven Idol and Scythian seem completely in their element. Far too quickly they unleash their inner Yates and have us ‘Sailing To Byzantium’ the metallic licks are salty like sea dogs and ancient mariners and the gusto of the song ramps up the levels and forges a considerably powerful conclusion. Those turning up late really did miss out here.
The support bands were to me as equally important as the main event and part of the reason on coming tonight was to pick up fantastic new Fen album ‘Winter’ and witness its icy touch live for the first time. The bad news is they only have time for three songs but these are songs of epic length and more depth than most bands pack into entire careers, so we were not going to feel sold short here in the slightest. It’s a slow, dense and complex start as the trio start to unpeel the intricate layers of the first two parts of their new opus, Winter I (Pathway) and II (Penance), which will take up the duration of almost half an hour. The sound thickens as vocal snarl in. People are packed in like sardines and very much seem to be completely behind the band. Either everyone has got very quickly drunk or are really feeding off this and lapping it all up. Acoustic parts conjure a massive sense of atmosphere and we sink into the marshland with them practically drowning us in their arms, with the light closing over heads and taking last hurried snatches of breath away. Survival seems necessary and we are heaved out with blackened hungry rasps and massive galloping layers. As a volatile peak is hit one thing I would never have expected to witness is a brief violent pit breaking out, the band deserve it too as this is incredibly powerful. Bringing it down a notch acoustic parts spread gorgeous mist enshrouded gloom that get us gazing, mesmerised by Nephilimesque rich shards of light. There are parts that (and no doubt the group will hate me saying this) convey a sense of pastoral romanticism and take us drifting off to the untouched lands the band take their name from. Roars bellow out the speakers and the thick barrage of the drumming flattens us. It’s one hell of a lot to take in and as they play final number ‘Menhir – Supplicant’ and turn the Carrion Skies black, I’m not alone in being completely enraptured by the performance. Surely this band’s time has come and as festival promoters as far and wide apart as Russia and Canada have eagerly grabbed heard the call; Bloodstock are you napping?
We are truly ready to die in a place ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ as the passionate Primordial clamour away to our very hearts and souls. Yes this review may well seem to have taken on an overly poetic slant but that is just the sort of sense that music like this should convey and there is no better man to do so than the consummate showman A.A. Nemtheanga. Apparently Primordial endured a journey from hell to get here which makes sense in line with what seemed to be a frantic start to the show. There is no chance of pushing right through to the front, people are guarding their spaces for life but in a way that’s good as it means not breathing in the rotting stench of the vocalists stage attire which is literally hanging on by the seams. Guitars spiral away and in front is a seething mass of hands. Songs of sacrifice and struggle are the modus operandi and the band slow things somewhat into a gravid crush and I wonder what the temperature has risen to in the venue, it must be practically through the roof by now. The frontman looks concerned offering hand to pull out a girl seemingly crushed against the stage but she assures with shake of head that she is OK and not giving up her vantage point for anything; comfort be damned, we are all in the group’s grip well and truly.
Having weathered the storm I am forced to clamber out the melee just to breathe and sup at the back. Perhaps it’s the weight of bodies between but annoyingly the sound toward the back seems a little too quiet, definitely compared to what is coming out the speakers in the bar area. There are some numbers that seem slow burners within the set allowing us to drift off with them at times. There are also plenty of opportunities for clean croons to hit the rafters and some violent surges to work the crowd into even greater frenzy. There’s a Zero Tolerance from the bunker article in the making when we are asked what we think of the new US President, drums beat out a military tattoo and ‘Rome Burns’ with everyone chanting to the slaves in the chorus. The first time the band played in London is mentioned and for a few of us older ones remembered fondly, that was a messy night and a half. ‘Gods To The Godless’ is one of many great numbers played during this non-stop set with the band seemingly in a race to fit as much material in as possible before the inevitable club curfew closes things down. Alan mentions his Grandfather’s acts in the 2nd world war prior to rowing out the ‘Coffin Ships’ and it really does seem like a night of emotion through and through. We felt ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ and that was our reward and by closer ‘Empires Fall’ all that was left to do was pick ourselves up and stagger out into the night. Again Primordial delivered and are a band whose shows always seem to bring out the hordes no matter how many times we see them. Top night all round and for those venturing to the Scottish lands I salute you!