Primordial released last year their eight studio album titled Where Greater Men Have Fallen, an album that continues the tradition of pure and unadulterated metal that has made them one of the heaviest bands out there. Where Greater Men Have Fallen lyrically doesn’t have a single core theme as their previous album Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand did, it presents itself as a more diverse album lyrically speaking, but it keeps developing the complex and demolishing sound the band is known for.
At first Primordial could come across as an unapologetic band, but to be honest this image is due more to the nature of their music, which is raw and heavy. They have been like this since their very beginning, their new album Where Greater Men Have Fallen is the latest evolution of that dense heavy music. Their sound derives from black metal, but it has a more structured core, and the texture of the album is more elaborated than a black metal band.
I remember seeing Primordial live at Progpower USA back in 2012, their set was odd for the type of bands that regularly play at the festival, regardless of that their show was heavy, raw, and quite interesting not something you see everyday on a progressive & power metal specialized festival. Primordial live is one of the heaviest and purest expression of metal that I have ever experienced, they had this black metal aura around them, but their sound is more complex and elaborated that simple blast beats and fast riffs.
This year they will be bringing those elements to the USA when they make their début at Maryland Deathfest this May, Alan Averill vocalist of Primordial talked recently to us about the new album Where Greater Men Have Fallen, the difficulties of touring America, the metal scene in Ireland, and much more.
TAOM: Hello Alan, How are you?
Alan Averill: I am alright man.
TAOM: Good to heard that, Lets start talking about the new album, Where Greater Men Had Fallen. Would you expand more on the ideas behind this new Primordial album?
AA: There is not particular theme relating to anything like some of the older albums, not on this one. A couple of the songs are sort of linked together with a sort of theme of broken promises or something like that. But, in general, there is not one unifying theme.
TAOM: In the previous Primordial album, it was this idea of how we deal with mortality, and spiritual structures created to try to understand that mortality. On this album are there any kind of ideas that are similar to those ones?
AA: No, no really, the themes on this album are bit different. Is more that I decided to look outwards that inwards and how we deal with death in Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand. This album is a bit different, from stuff about the first world war among other things, I looked at the hundred years since the great war, and how we haven’t change much really.
TAOM: So would you say the album is more historical oriented this time?
AA: Yes, and no. The themes are a bit different, no quite internal.
TAOM: Babel’s Tower is the first quality video on Primordial‘s history. What lead you to make a video clip until now after all this years.
AA: It just felt like we should, there is not particular reason why we didn’t before, it just felt like the right time to do it. We found the themes of the songs that fit a video that makes sense, we talked to Metal Blade once we knew that the album was coming about exactly that having a video to contrast the album. It’s not deep dark secret, it just happened.
TAOM: On the new album you also worked with Jaime Gomez on the production role, how different was working with him than working with Chris Fielding who did the production for the last two Primordial records?
AA: The princess, he doesn’t like to stay up at night (laughs)… Its nothing, we changed because it was nothing against Chris, but we just felt that every two albums you should kind of shake things up a little bit, because people get sucked into routines, because things felt comfortable, and very often this is detrimental to the sound. I think you need to keep spinning it up, to shake things a bit. We just wanted to change.
TAOM: Having in mind that Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand was a very successful record, what was the most difficult part about creating Where Greater Men Had Fallen?
AA: To be honest, we just really didn’t think about it, I didn’t feel any great pressure. we are our biggest critics, we know when something sounds Primordial, when something sounds right. It’s just not a question of try and error, I think we deeply trust to do what we suppose to do. The fans know that, Primordial won’t go through some electronic phase, or making an acoustic album, or introduce female vocals. We approach things in a certain way, that would be some changes here and there, but pretty much we established our style now, and it’s just the case of writing strong songs.
TAOM: Primordial did a two-week tour in eve of ProgPower USA in 2012, and it seems it was a quite let down as not too many people turn out to the gigs. In the other hand the crowd at PPUSA loved your show that same year, how that reflect on your will to tour the USA again? Would you be open to try it again?
AA: yeah, look some shows were successful at that tour, and some shows were just normal shows. When you play in certain venues and certain areas most shows do get between 40 to a 100 people, that is just how the scene is sometimes. Most European bands talks among themselves, and by large they are touring the USA for 50 to 100 people, that is what is happened to the scene over there. is just that 50 to 100 people is not enough to make it worthwhile for an European band. There has to be 200 to 300 people a show for an European band to make anything, considering that you have massive visa costs, life is more expensive, some venues want to take percentage of merchandise, all this things weight against us, the interview costs of the American Embassy here make America a hard place to tour.
I like it, I like the people, I like the challenge, I like the country, and I find it fascinating. But, if you seen any European band playing for 150 people be guarantee they are losing money, and there is no way around it. When you play in Europe, things like daily cost, bus cost they are the promoter’s cost, but when you play in America there are the band’s cost. So the risk is on you as a band when you play in the USA, so therefore 72 people in Cleveland is not enough it need to be 272. The problem is that of course you have to keep touring the USA, and generate enough people to make any money, but it’s very hard to do when you are 40 years old with small kids, touring again and again for nothing.
So, until the government removes the visa problem, venues decide to stop stealing merchandise money from bands, and putting it simply people stop seating at home watching YouTube and decide to come out to shows, it’s a very hard place to go. We will try again for sure, but again if you are asked to support a big band no one pays you, its hard for me to get together a full band of guys older than 40 with small kids and bills, when you go ‘well we have to take some merch for a month, and you show up at House of Blues and House Of Blues wants to charge you a percentage on that merch‘.
TAOM: Now, I got to see Primordial that year at ProgPower USA for the first time, even though that Primordial was an odd ball for the type of bands that regularly plays at PPUSA.
AA: Yeah, the line up was shit, unbelievable music. The worst kind of heavy metal I can possible imagine.
TAOM: But, what was your perception from the festival, and the mood of the people towards Primordial?
AA: I love it, the nicest people, I only have nicest things to say. But man, out all the organization, and all the cool people we meet, we were really overwhelmed with everybody’s hospitality and friendliness. Like I said before the music and the bands were just terrible. But, everyone was fucking cool as fuck, I would go back there on a heartbeat it was a lovely festival.
TAOM: This year Primordial will comeback to USA for Maryland Deathfest, what are your expectations for that show?
AA: I just felt its gonna be really cool, I heard a lot good things about it, a lot of my friends go to Maryland,we never play there before for whatever reason, Its gonna be interesting some good bands playing, some friends playing there also.
TAOM: From a band like Primordial that is a pioneer on the whole folk metal/Pagan metal genre, and before any of the bands affiliated to it gained popularity, what are your thoughts about how the whole genre had become so popular?
AA: Shit!, Folk metal is a horrible term that generally describe awful music. The original pagan metal band, I guess bands like Enslaved, Eternus, Thyrfing, even Graveland, they descend from black metal, they had the black metal heart, and this is where we came from. Most modern folk metal has come from the ashes of power metal, there is a very different musical history that worked there. Generally is mainly power metal with some furry booth. I am to old and to cold, I am from a different kind heavy metal place, I can’t recognize myself in this music at all, and I don’t think Primordial musically fit with any of it. Even though, we maybe could represent a dark underbelly, the dark side of this music somehow.
TAOM: There has always been descriptions of the metal scene in England, Germany, Scandinavia, etc. But never an enough description of the metal scene in Ireland. How is the metal scene in Ireland?
AA: Its small, it’s a small country of three and half million people who live here. There is some good bands, there is some people who work hard to make things happen, but its a small place. You have to fight a little bit harder to get attention. We evolved in isolation, and I think it made us sound more individual.
TAOM: Closing up, what is next for Primordial in 2015?
AA: We are just talking to people about the new album, no big tours announced just yet but we will play European festivals this summer, we just keep doing what we are doing and hope we can comeback to the states I think after the summer.