Primeval Mass - Nine Altars [Katoptron IX Records - 2020]One man bands in the world of extreme heavy music have long ceased been a rarity. And in the genre of black metal they are very common. I think the trend arose after the success of the likes of Burzum. One man bands appear all over the world and Greece is no exception….and that’s where Primeval Mass come from.
Primeval Mass were formed in 2000 as the one man project of musician named Orth, who had been a member of black metal band Eschaton. From the very beginning of his career, the musical direction was chosen towards intensive and technical black / death metal. Since 2003, Primeval Mass's discography includes three demo releases, two splits, one single and four full-length albums, the last Nine Altars was released earlier this year by the Greek label Katoptron IX Records.
The album cover is a monochrome (black and dirty yellow) graphic image made at the junction of Art Nouveau, engraving and comic book styles. It is worth saying that this graphic style is now quite popular in the design of album covers in various genres. In the center of the composition is a stone altar with an Egyptian scarab carved on it and the Roman numeral IX. Behind the altar there is a faceless half-naked priestess, dressed in a cloak with a hood, in the raised hands is a human skull. Behind her, a large black crescent is visible in the sky, whose horns are looking up. Hills or mountains are visible in the background. In the upper left corner of the cover is the Primeval Mass logo, made in a typical black metal style - thin, angular, interwoven letters that make up the overall graphic composition. In the lower right corner is the name of the album made in Gothic calligraphic type. I consider this cover to be an excellent art work that has its own atmosphere and mood. And, in my opinion, it fits well with the musical component of the album.
The album has a duration of a little less than fifty-five minutes and consists of eight tracks. It should be mention that technically Primeval Mass cannot be considered as One man band. As Orth invites session musicians to record his albums, although, of course, he is the main driving force behind the project. Nine Altars was recorded with more guest musicians than all previous albums. Six people helped Orth on this album, but almost all the vocals and guitars were recorded by Orth.
Up to Nine Altars, the Primeval Mass style I would define as a technical black / death metal. Strong, rich, energetic, but, in my opinion, standard. However, with Nine Altars, Primeval Mass changes its approach to sound and style and introduces the listener to hard and technical thrash metal in the best traditions of the American and European scenes, with a large share of classical death metal, infrequent black metal fragments and a strong influence of progressive metal. The entire album is woven from classic thrash riffs and rhythms, however it sounds as fresh and original as possible. Death and black fragments, as well as acoustic inserts, are very harmoniously woven into the compositional ideas of the songs. I really liked the overall sound - with strong sound saturation, the listener can clearly hear the part of each instrument. This is especially well heard in the instrumental composition "Amidst Twin Horizons", which is replete with synchronous melodic guitar solos and is clearly influenced by the classic NWOBHM. Orth's classic black metal vocals fit perfectly into the overall sound range. Honestly, I have long noticed that this type of vocals, although necessary in the music of this genre, but rather plays a supporting rather than a leading role. In stylistic terms, Nine Altars reminded me of the albums of a large number of groups, mostly playing in the thrash metal genre. From the analogies that came to my mind, I can name the early albums of Metallica and Megadeth, some Venom, Kreator, Death, Sabbat, and some of the early works of Skyclad. Of the analogies not related to thrash, I can name later works of Emperor and Peccatum. Also, despite the difference in genres, sound and approach to writing music, I would draw an analogy with Opeth, but this is only in terms of the overall emotional perception of the entire album.
To summarize, I can say with Nine Altars has Primeval Mass recorded his best album so far. But this has nothing to do with Black Metal, although it retains this aesthetics. I think that Nine Altars is one of the best examples of modern technical progressive Thrash / Death metal. Sergey Pakhomov