Review Summary: An album to keep those chomping at the bit for more of what Primordial creates satisfied, but one that may leave some fans hungry for something more
I see Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
in two ways: being another Primordial album that builds upon the success of To The Nameless Dead
with a restrained evolution that introduces some new hooks and edges but keeps the base formula alive and well; and as a capitalization of their previous effort that takes another route, one that doesn’t change quite enough to be a thoroughly interesting piece of music. Fortunately for Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
, I catch myself thinking the former far more often than the latter, but that doesn’t mean that thoughts of fetid stagnation are a distant presence. The album is tricky in that way; not only does it shuffle its cards in such a clever manner so as to bring what’s fresh and appealing to the ear forward, it also slyly ushers the memory of what’s been written in the past behind the curtain for none to see. For that, I give Primordial credit, because the first-listen appeal to this album is almost ridiculous, with the aggressive opener “No Grave Deep Enough” and the perfectly placed “The Mouth of Judas” restoring attentiveness to peak levels from the dwindling heights they slowly trickle away from as each standout fades.
Primordial’s riffing has been a touchy subject in the past, with their fantastically epic compositions distracting everything from the benign and, quite frankly, dry riffs that they’ve stuck in verse and chorus to sustain the album’s enormous and massive atmosphere. Partly, that problem is solved on Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
, but not entirely. There are melodies that dwell throughout the album that are incredibly refreshing to the build-and-demolish pattern of nearly every track; enough to give the benign twang of the bass guitar that lingers in the background something to latch on to to save it from the wallows of repeated, rhythmic plucking. To that end, it is nice that the production here gives the record a chance to display all of the band’s talents, regardless of what the songwriting dictates. When the instruments are given something to do that is worthy of hearing, rest assured that the mix leaves no such moment to pass. This cyclical pattern that Primordial enjoy so much does have its benefits, however. The atmosphere of Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
is unwavering and consistently awe-inspiring, with the attitudes of upbeat, swaying valor and deep tragedy swelling and overflowing from the album’s bounds. When everything is said and done, it is the atmosphere that will linger the most.
The most dividing aspect of Primordial’s sound is certainly not the riffs, and not the high quality drums that do their best to bring life to moments when all else is dull, but is instead the vocals. A.A. Nemtheanga’s voice is praised by some, and looked at skeptically by others. His delivery and sense of emotion is rather unorthodox: the pitch of the vocals extend only so far, never really pushing their bounds to a level that belongs alongside the more notable crescendos of the album, and instead seem even restrained. They remain primarily clean, as fans of the band will have no qualms with, but the incorporation of harsh vocals as an integral part of a track instead of some sort of spice, such as those displayed in “No Grave Deep Enough” and “God's Old Snake”, is a missed opportunity. Still, the tunes ranging from triumphant to sorrowful get their fill with the vocals, which remain solid despite their inability to heed any urge to change things up a bit. It may seem like a large burden to place on the vocals, but with an album so reliant on them for its success it is a load that must be borne.
For what it is, Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
is nothing to be disappointed with, but is also nothing to be completely ecstatic over. The album peaks several times to glorious heights but also segues down into valleys that are decently written and well performed, but lack any true lasting power to make you want to listen to them again. What keeps you, then, from simply ignoring half of the album in favor of your three or four obvious favorites? The secret is in the details. While these songs may pale overall in comparison the giants of the album, they contain small moments of glory that unfortunately do not linger as they do in songs like “Death of the Gods” or “The Mouth of Judas”. If you’re here for the powerhouse atmospheric engine, then you’ll love Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
, but if you’re in it for more than what the atmosphere brings forth, you may note some flaws in the formula. Will they break the album’s back? Not at all, because there is enough contained within Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand
to keep a wide demographic of listeners quite happy.