Anyone who has been lucky enough to see pagan black metal stalwarts Primordial in concert know that they bring it like few others. This was well documented in 2010 with the excellent All Empires Fall recording. They’ve since released two more studio albums, 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand and 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen (both highly recommended by yours truly), and Gods to the Godless takes that into account.
As opposed to the double-CD All Empires Fall, Gods to the Godless is a single disc comprised of eleven songs, six of which are from the band’s two newest albums. Not a bad ratio of new versus old, and of course the older songs are live staples: “Heathen Tribes,” “As Rome Burns,” “Empire Falls,” and “The Coffin Ships,” to be specific, along with the title track.
Four songs are taken from Where Greater Men Have Fallen, and only two from Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, which is a bit odd. Substituting “Lain With the Wolf” for “The Coffin Ships,” for example, would have been a nice touch.
Recorded at the Bang Your Head festival in Germany back in 2015, Gods to the Godless serves as a sweet summary of the band’s recent years. Things get off to a pulverizing start with “Gods to the Godless,” the oldest song on the album, and as one might expect the intensity never lets up. Track after track the band continues to pound through their catalog, with the vastly underrated Simon O’Laoghaire laying down a brutal foundation behind the drum kit, and A.A. Nemtheanga bellowing his way through the tracks, constantly encouraging the audience to raise their fists, screaming “are you with me!?” throughout. The man is truly a demented bard.
For a live album the sound is clear and sharp, much in keeping with the band’s studio sound. With a decent track listing and solid performances, this is a welcome addition to any collector’s concert library. While All Empires Fall is much longer and contains a wider variety of songs, Gods to the Godless encapsulates the recent best of Primordial in a single disc. Fans of the band will love it.
(released November 25, 2016 on Metal Blade Records)