Quarterly Review: Primordial, Dead Meadow, Taarna, MaidaVale, Black Willows, Craang, Fuzz Lord, Marijannah, Cosmic Fall, Owl

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay, so this is it. The Quarterly Review definitely ends today. I’m not sneaking in a seventh day tomorrow or anything like that. This is it. The last batch of 10, bringing us to a grand total of 60 records reviewed between last Monday and now. That’s not too bad, if you think about it. Me, I’m a little done thinking about it, and if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to enjoy the time between now and late June/early July, in which for the most part I’ll be writing about one record at a time. The thought feels like a luxury after this week.

But hey, we made it. Thanks for reading along the way.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

Primordial’s flair for the epic has not at all abated over the years. The Irish post-black-metal forerunners follow-up 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen with Exile Amongst the Ruins (on Metal Blade), and though there’s plenty of charge in “To Hell or the Hangman,” “Sunken Lungs” or “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed,” with frontman Alan Averill proselytizing declarations as grandly as ever, one might read a certain amount of fatigue into the lyrics of songs like “Stolen Years” and the 10-minute closer “Last Call.” Granted, Exile Amongst the Ruins is 65 minutes long, so I don’t think the band has run out of things to say, but could it be that the cycle of writing, recording and touring is starting to wear on them some 25 years after their founding? I wouldn’t know or speculate, and like I said, Exile Amongst the Ruins retains plenty of its sonic force, the layering of the title-track and the preceding “Where Lie the Gods” offering a depth of sound to complement the complexity of their themes.

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial at Metal Blade website

 

Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

Utter masters of their domain, Los Angeles’ Dead Meadow – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and drummer Juan Londono – mark 20 years of the band with the eight songs of The Nothing They Need (on Xemu Records), bringing in former members for guest spots mostly on drums but also guitar across a rich tapestry of moods, all of which happen to be distinctly Dead Meadow’s own. The ramble in opener “Keep Your Head” or “I’m So Glad” is unmistakable, and the fuzz of the six-minute “Nobody Home” bounces with a heavy psychedelic groove that should be nothing less than a joy to the converted. Recorded in their rehearsal space, released on their own label and presented with their own particularly blend of indie pulse, psych dreamscaping and more weighted tone, a song like the swaying eight-minute “The Light” is a reminder of everything righteous Dead Meadow have accomplished in their two decades, and of the vast spread their influence has taken on in that time. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that no matter who’s involved, Dead Meadow sound like Dead Meadow, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay them.

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at the start of Taarna’s 29-minute single-song EP, Sanguine Ash, but the samples are vague and violent sounding and the noise behind them is abrasive. A strum and build takes hold as the Portland, Oregon, black metallers, who feature former members of Godhunter in their ranks, continue in the first couple minutes to develop a suicidal thematic, and six minutes in, a wash of static takes hold with drums behind it only to give way, in turn, to lush-sounding keys or guitar (could go either way) that patiently leads to a rumbling, roiling lurch of blacksludge. Cavern-vocals echo and cut through molasses tones and Taarna ride that malicious groove for the next several minutes until, at around 18:30, samples start again. This leads to more quiet guitar, resonant blackened thrust, noise, noise, more noise and a final emergent wash of caustic anti-metal that couldn’t possibly be clearer in its mission to challenge, repel and come across as completely fucked as it can. Done and done, you scathing bastards.

Taarna on Thee Facebooks

Taarna on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

I already discussed a lot of what is working so well on MaidaVale’s second album, Madness is Too Pure (The Sign Records), when I put up the video for “Oh Hysteria!” (posted here), but it’s worth reemphasizing the sonic leap the Swedish four-piece have made between their 2016 debut, the bluesy and well-crafted Tales of the Wicked West (review here) and this nine-song offering, which stretches far outside the realm of blues rock and encompasses psychedelic jamming, spontaneous-sounding explorations, brazen but not at all caustic vibes, and an overarching energy of delivery that reminds both of a live presentation and, on a song like “Gold Mine,” of what Death Alley have been able to revitalize in space-punk. Memorable progressions like that of “Walk in Silence” and the freaked out “Dark Clouds” offer standout moments, but really, it’s the whole album itself that’s the standout, and if the debut showed MaidaVale’s potential, Madness is Too Pure ups that factor significantly.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

About a year and a half after releasing their 2016 sophomore outing, Samsara (review here), Swiss post-doomers Black Willows return with a 19-minute single-song EP they’ve dubbed Bliss. It is utterly hypnotic. The sonic equivalent of watching a bonfire take hold of dry wood. It consumes with its dense heft of riff and then lulls the listener with stretches of minimalism and ambience, the first of which provides the intro to the piece itself. Black Willows are no strangers to working with longform material, and as Bliss also appears as the band’s half of a Bloodrock Records split with Craneium, it’s understandable they’d want to bring their best, but the weight of their groove feels unexpected even in terms of having heard their past work. So they’ve gotten heavier? Yeah, maybe. What really matters is how they wield that weight, and on Bliss, they put it to use as much as an atmospheric table-setter as in a display of sheer force. Beware the noise wash at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Craang, Shine

craang shine

Greek heavy psych rockers Craang set up a dynamic quickly on their new two-song full-length, Shine (also stylized as S H IN E) that both encourages and rewards patience and trust on the part of the listener. They begin 24:52 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horizon – Tempest” quietly and commence to unfold through ebbs and flows, clean vocals and shouts, open spaces and dense(r) riffing. There is a break near and at the halfway point that presumably is the shift between one part of “Horizon – Tempest” and the other, and the second half follows that lead with a more active presentation. The accompanying “Ocean – Cellular” (19:41) launches with a bed of synth that fades as the bass, drums and guitar enter and begin a linear build that retains a progressive edge, dropping off at about eight minutes in perhaps as another transition into “Cellular,” which indeed follows a more winding, intricate path. One can only say Craang are clear in their representation of what they want to convey, and because of that, Shine is all the more of an engaging experience, the listener essentially following the band on this journey from place to place, idea to idea.

Craang on Thee Facebooks

Craang on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

We start at “The Gates of Hell” and end up in “Infamous Evil,” so one might say Ohio trio Fuzz Lord – guitarist Steven “Fuzz Lord” joined by bassist/vocalist “Stoner” Dan Riley and drummer/vocalist Lawrence “Lord Buzz” – have their thematic well set on their eight-track self-titled debut (on Fuzzdoom Records). Likewise, their tones and the sense of space in the echoing vocals of “Kronos Visions Arise” and the later, extra-Sabbathian “World Collide” seem to know precisely where they’re headed. Riley recorded the 39-minute outing, while Justin Pizzoferrato (Elder, Dinosaur Jr., many others) mixed, and the resulting conjuration is earthbound in its low end while allowing the guitar to either roll out riffy largesse or take an airier approach. The uptempo “The Lord of the Underground” speaks to a punker underpinning, while the preceding “The Warriors Who Reign” seems to have a more classic metal take, and “Infamous Evil,” also the longest track at 7:51, peppers in layered guitar leads amid a doomier, Luciferian vibe and fervent hook.

Fuzz Lord on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

Comprised of members of Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult, Singapore-based newcomers Marijannah execute four tracks of blown-out tones and psychedelic cavernousness with their Pink Tank Records debut release, Till Marijannah. Touches of garage swing make their way into opener “1974,” and second cut “Snakecharmer” blazes and scorches with wah-drenched solos around crunching rhythms and melodic vocalizations. A march emerges on the nine-minute “Bride of Mine” and only gets more fervent as the track makes its way forward, and driving finale “All Hollow’s Eve” presents a cacophonous but controlled take from Marijannah that reinforces the notion of nothing on their first outing happening by accident. Impressive and just a bit frenetic, it leaves one wondering what further ground the band might look to explore from here, whether they’ve set their sonic course and will look to refine their processes along these lines or whether this is just the beginning of a wider stylistic melding, and their next offering might sound completely different than Till Marijannah. The one seems as likely as the other, and that’s incredibly refreshing.

Marijannah on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

Immediate points to Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall for opening their six-song/43-minute third album, In Search of Outer Space, with the 11-minute longest track “Jabberwocky.” The three-piece introduced new guitarist Marcin Marowski last year on Jams for Free (review here), and as bassist Klaus Friedrich steps up to take the vocalist role and drummer Daniel Sax continues to hold together impossible spaciousness with a fluidity of groove, Marowski seems right at home wah-noodling in the open reaches of “Jabberwocky” and soldering shred and swirl together on the later “Lumberjam.” Some of In Search of Outer Space’s most effective moments are its quietest, as on “Purification” or second cut “Narcotic Vortex,” but neither will I decry the bass fuzz that takes hold near the finish there or the molten churn that bookends closer “Icarus,” but as “Spacejam” hits into the vastness, it seems Cosmic Fall as just as apt to float as to rocket their way out of the atmosphere. In either case, they most certainly get there.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

The solo-project of Christian Kolf of avant death-crunchers Valborg, Owl issues the 22-minute single-song EP Orion Fenix – with its chanting repetitions of “reborn in fire” – as a precursor to the upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion. Like Owl’s last EP, 2015’s wondrously dark Aeon Cult (review here), Orion Fenix is both intense churn and slow-rolling melancholy, bridging a gap between classic doom (that lead 15 minutes in) and post-doom rhythms and atmosphere. If the project’s purpose is to find beauty in darkness, Orion Fenix accomplishes this quickly enough, but the track’s runtime and lush layering allow Kolf to lend a sense of exploration to what is no doubt a meticulous creative process, since he’s handling all the instruments and vocals himself. Either way, Orion Fenix, as a herald, bodes remarkably well for forward progress on Nights in Distortion to come, and is a remarkable accomplishment on its own in both heft and spaciousness.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

 

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Primordial Post “Stolen Years” Video; Exile Amongst the Ruins out March 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

primordial

Many bands, one Primordial. Going on nine records deep into a career that in 2018 hits 25 years since the release of their first demo, the Dublin-based metallers are one of a kind. Over their time, they’ve transcended black metal, pagan metal, Celtic metal, doom and however many other subgenres on their way to defining and refining their sound, and with the forthcoming Exile Amongst the Ruins — out March 30 on Metal Blade — the five-piece will once again showcase the individualized take and particular dramatic bent that makes them who they are: not only distinct sonically, but one of heavy metal’s most affecting bands, capable of stirring the soul in a way few groups can.

To whatever degree a given listener is emotionally affected — that is to say, different people buy in at different levels; investment is subjective — I firmly believe that anyone who’s seen Primordial live can at very least appreciate the landmark-style presence they bring to the stage. That is the focus, rightly, of their new Costin Chioreanu-directed videoprimordial exile amongst the ruins for “Stolen Years,” which is the first track to be unveiled from Exile Amongst the Ruins. We see the band, led as ever by frontman Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, essentially preparing for a show. The rest of the group — founding guitarist Ciáran MacUiliam and bassist Pól MacAmlaigh, guitarist Micheál O’Floinn and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire — laughs and drinks and checks gear as Averill ritualistically dons the stage makeup he’ll wear during the set. Shot in black and white and slow motion, the spirit of the clip portrays a sense of import, of meaning, to what becomes to the band and to fans clearly more than just another night at a gig.

And as for the song itself, “Stolen Years” is something of a surprise. When one thinks of “lead single,” it’s hardly the kind of fare imagined. With a subdued melancholy and a structure that pulls away from the hooks the band often proffers, it feels more meditative than a lot of what Primordial does, but it’s still undeniably theirs. As it appears late in the tracklisting for Exile Amongst the Ruins, which you can see in the album announcement that follows the video here, it leads one to wonder what sort of atmospheres Primordial might dig into as side B of their latest offering plays through. For the time being, I can only look forward to finding out.

Check out Primordial‘s “Stolen Years” on the player below, followed by the aforementioned details courtesy of the PR wire, and please enjoy:

Primordial, “Stolen Years” official video

Primordial announces new album “Exile Amongst The Ruins” for March 30th!

Irish pagan metal gods PRIMORDIAL announces their new album Exile Amongst The Ruins for a March 30th release through Metal Blade Records. The band teamed with producer Ola Ersfjord, who worked on their 2016 live album Gods to the Godless. The record was tracked at Dublin’s Camelot Studios, located adjacent to PRIMORDIAL’s rehearsal room.

Visit metalblade.com/primordial to check out the video for the first single “Stolen Years.” At the same location, fans can pre-order Exile Amongst The Ruins in the following formats:

–ltd. 1st ed. Digibook-CD with bonus-CD
–jewelcase-CD
–ltd. ed. Artbook (incl. 5 x 10″ in golden vinyl)
–180g black vinyl
–clear gray-brown marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 700 copies)
–violet red purple marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
–clear pale pink/white splattered vinyl (EU eBay exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
–purple red marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
–transparent green vinyl (Blast exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
–dead gold marbled vinyl (Napalm exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
–rosy brown/purple marbled vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 400 copies)
–tan clear vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 200 copies)

Once again building upon their signature sound, the follow up to 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen is a more raw, “old school sounding” record than its predecessor. Hitting home with what vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga describes as “a direct energy” and wielding an urgency that is undeniable, the Irish quintet once again effortlessly blend elements of tragedy and might like no one else. Likewise, the evolution in their sound continues to be organic and unforced, ensuring that Exile Amongst The Ruins is essential listening for both their long term faithful and those only now drawn into their world.

Commenting about the album’s first single, ‘Stolen Years’, A.A. Nemtheanga added: “‘Stolen Years’ may seem like a strange choice as our lead single, and on the face of if I guess it is. It’s not a blood and thunder epic about tragedy and might and the ruin of nations, nor is it 9 minute epistle of doom. Have no fear, the album does contain those also but to open this time we chose something different. This album has some surprises and this is one of them, a short and painfully simple song which almost didn’t make the final cut if you can believe so. The video, cut by Costin Chioreanu, is about the journey involved in finally getting to that moment where you walk on stage, the song itself about that last night on earth that comes to us all, sometimes we never know when that might be, hold your loved ones tight tonight, this could be it…”

Exile Amongst The Ruins track listing:
1. Nail Their Tongues
2. To Hell or the Hangman
3. Where Lie the Gods
4. Exile Amongst the Ruins
5. Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed
6. Stolen Years
7. Sunken Lungs
8. Last Call

To coincide with the album release the Irishmen have just announced two special and rather intimate album-release shows in Germany as well as their appearance on the Heathen Crusade European tour with Finnish MOONSORROW as co-headliners and German DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT as support act!

PRIMORDIAL Exile Amongst The Ruins release shows:
30/03/18 DE Berlin Cassiopeia
31/03/18 DE Köln Jungle Club

Heathen Crusade 2018
PRIMORDIAL
+ MOONSORROW
+ DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT
12/04/18 NL Leeuwarden Neushoorn
13/04/18 NL Tilburg 013
14/04/18 FR Paris Trabendo
15/04/18 BE Brugge Entrepot
16/04/18 UK London Islington Assembly Hall
17/04/18 LU Esch-sur-Alzette Kulturfabrik
18/04/18 CH Pratteln Z7
19/04/18 DE Ludwigsburg Rockfabrik
20/04/18 DE Leipzig Hellraiser
21/04/18 CZ Prague Akropolis
22/04/18 SK Kosice Colloseum
23/04/18 HU Budapest Barba Negra
24/04/18 AT Wien Szene
25/04/18 DE München Backstage
26/04/18 DE Aschaffenburg Colos-Saal
27/04/18 DE Bochum Matrix
28/04/18 DE Hamburg Markthalle

Get your tickets now: dragon-productions.eu
Further info here: facebook.com/HeathenCrusade

Further PRIMORDIAL festival appearances:
12/05/18 NO Haugesund Karmoygeddon
09/06/18 SE Sölvesborg Sweden Rock
14/07/18 DE Balingen Bang Your Head!!!
20/07/18 DE Bertingen Rock Unter Den Eichen
27/07/18 SI Tolmin Metaldays
11/08/18 ES Villena Leyendas Del Rock
12/08/18 BE Kortrijk Alcatraz Metal Festival
26/08/18 RO Suceava Bucovina Rock Castle

PRIMORDIAL line-up:
A.A. Nemtheanga – Vocals
Ciarán MacUilliam – Guitar
Michael O’Floinn – Guitar
Pól MacAmlaigh – Bass
Simon O’Laoghaire – Drums

Primordial website

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial on Bandcamp

Primordial on YouTube

Primordial at Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records on Twitter

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Primordial Live Album Gods to the Godless Due Nov. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

If you’ve never seen Primordial live, it’s among the great pleasures that modern heavy metal has to offer. Alan Averill is among the most charismatic frontmen that whatever subgenre you want to put his band in has to offer, and when it comes to the long-running Dublin outfit’s first-ever live record, Gods to the Godless: Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015, I can’t help but wonder how the vigilant energy he brings to the stage will translate to a recorded reproduction. Not like you can hear him pumping his fist, putting his foot up on the monitor, or leading the band like they’re a military regiment coming over a hillside in some ancient battle against all that which sucks. Or maybe you can. Hence my interest.

The opening title-track, originally from 2000’s Spirit the Earth Aflame, is streaming now below, if you’d like to get a taste of what’s to come. Album is out Nov. 25 on Metal Blade.

Averill offered comment via the PR wire, which also brought forth the preorder link:

primordial-gods-to-the-godless

Primordial announces live album, ‘Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015)’; launches title track online

Irish pagan metallers Primordial have announced the release of the first live album in the band’s history: Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015), due out November 25th via Metal Blade Records. To hear the title track and pre-order Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015) in various formats, please visit metalblade.com/primordial now!

Primordial’s A.A. Nemtheanga comments: “It might seem like an unusual move, a double live album. Especially within the scene we are from, but the live album was once a staple of most bands’ careers and something we all grew up with in our collection. Pouring over tour dates, gear information and killer live pics. Ok so it’s not ‘Live After Death’ but you can see the attraction and taste the romance involved, right? Fact is though we hadn’t planned it, it was basically a happy coincidence, the good people at Bang Your head who took such a risk booking us the first time on a more traditional old school rock festival had us back for the fourth time, gave us a proper headlining set length and happened to mention afterwards that they had a mobile recording device rigged up and ready to go. When we listened back to the tapes we found something we could work with and the idea took shape. If you love the band, you will know what to expect: blood, guts and passion – and believe us, the double vinyl will look beautiful! If we’ve been in your orbit, but you’ve never trained your sights on us properly, this might be a good place to start as the sound is massive, the old songs have some added muscle and the planets aligned to make ‘Gods to the Godless’ perhaps a great introduction to the band. From our side, it felt like something important to do, like taking advantage of an opportunity to make not only a standalone album in its own right, but also add something rich to the heritage and tapestry of metal that once hinged on the live album. The tradition reaches back into the 70s and 80s and we are proud to have our own small place in that pantheon! And for the record…not one single over dub. This is truly Live and Dangerous…”

Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015) track-listing
1. Gods to the Godless (Live)
2. Babels Tower (Live)
3. Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Live)
4. No Grave Deep Enough (Live)
5. As Rome Burns (Live)
6. The Alchemists Head (Live)
7. Bloodied Yet Unbowed (Live)
8. The Coffin Ships (Live)
9. Heathen Tribes (Live)
10. Wield Lightning to Split the Sun (Live)
11. Empire Falls (Live)

https://www.facebook.com/primordialofficial
http://www.primordialweb.com
https://twitter.com/PrimordialEire
http://www.facebook.com/metalbladerecords
http://twitter.com/metalblade
metalblade.com/primordial

Primordial, “Gods to the Godless” live

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Primordial to Release Where Greater Men Have Fallen on Nov. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

primordial

I remember when Primordial released To the Nameless Dead back in 2007, that was a November release as well, and it turned out to be easily one of the best albums I heard that year. Might have even topped the list, I’d have to go back and look — and that would require finding the list, which would take all day — but if not, it was certainly up there, and a lot of those songs continue to resonate even seven years later. The Dublin five-piece have issued one album since, 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (review here), and while it wasn’t the same kind of surprise attack, the material was still quality. Live, they’re one of the most invigorating acts I’ve ever seen, so yeah, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think they could drop a new full-length at the start of winter with a month’s notice and make something killer happen. In fact, I hope that’s how it goes.

PR wire info and lyric video for the new album’s title-track follow:

primordial where greater men have fallen

PRIMORDIAL To Release New Full-Length This November Via Metal Blade Records; Lyric Video Now Playing + Preorder Packages Available

Dublin’s finest metal exports, PRIMORDIAL, will release their long-anticipated new studio album, Where Greater Men Have Fallen, later this Fall via Metal Blade Records.

Where Greater Men Have Fallen serves as the followup to PRIMORDIAL’s critically-adored, 2011-released Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand full-length and boasts some of the band’s deepest, most meticulously composed compositions to date. The eight-track, fifty-eight minute epic was tracked at Grouse Lodge in Dublin with Jaime Gomez (Cathedral, Angelwitch, Grave Miasma).

Singer A.A. Nemtheanga elaborates: “Some time at the end of 2013 we sat and began to plot a course for album number eight. We moved camp to a new rehearsal room and the ideas began to take shape. We felt it was time to try a new studio and engineer so we went to Grouse Lodge deep in the middle of Ireland and employed Gomez to come over and work on the new album.” The band’s idea was, of course, to keep the PRIMORDIAL trademarks intact while incorporating a broader, heavier more organic sound. “We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history!”

Where Greater Men Have Fallen Track Listing:
1. Where Greater Men Have Fallen
2. Babel’s Tower
3. Come The Flood
4. The Seed Of Tyrants
5. Ghosts Of The Charnel House
6. The Alchemist’s Head
7. Born To Night
8 .Wield Lightning To Split The Sun

Where Greater Men Have Fallen will be released in North America on November 25th, 2014 via Metal Blade Records. Point your browser to http://www.metalblade.com/primordial for a host of preorder options. The record will come available as a standard jewelcase-CD and on vinyl in various color variants. Where Greater Men Have Fallen will also be released as a limited European deluxe edition wood boxset which includes a CD+DVD digibook, an exclusive 7″, a leather wristband, a poster and a certificate of authenticity.

PRIMORDIAL:
A.A. Nemtheanga – Vocals
Ciaran MacUiliam – Guitar
Michael O’Floinn – Guitar
Paul MacAmlaigh – Bass
Simon O’Laoghaire – Drums

http://www.metalblade.com
http://www.metalblade.com/primordial
http://www.primordialweb.com
http://www.facebook.com/primordialofficial
http://www.metalblade.com/primordial/

Primordial, “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” lyric video

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ROADBURN 2013 Day One: Shore to Cursed Shore

Posted in Features on April 18th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

04.19.13 — 00.17 — Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I was early to the Green Room, which is the middle-sized space at the 013. The first band on for Roadburn 2013 would be Black Bombaim, and if you’ve been here before, you know the crowds are serious and that if you’re not careful, you can wind up watching an act through an open doorway — which also happened to me more than once throughout the course of the evening. Plenty on time to see Black Bombaim, though, and no regrets for taking the head-first dive into jamming European heavy psychedelia, instrumental meandering to the cosmos. Man, all of a sudden it was a hell of an afternoon.

They were, as was somewhat expected, blissed right out, all-natural, all-jam, immediate swirl. The day had other starts on other stages, but for me, this was what it was about. I was stocked to watch them after digging last year’s Titans and 2010’s Saturdays and Space Travels (review here), and Tojo‘s bass tone served as an immediate reminder of why I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Warm, grooving and perfectly suited to the band’s extended wandering progressions, I couldn’t have asked for more than I got as a way to kick off this year’s Roadburn. Watching guitarist Ricardo signal changes to drummer Senra, the whole thing had a very organic, very spontaneous vibe, and that’s just what you want. The first song was a little rough, but after that, they settled into a solid groove and stayed there.

Today was a fair amount of running around — less than some, more than others. Pallbearer were on the Main Stage shortly, and after the heavy dose of salivating they got in the US last time I saw them in New York with Enslaved (whose own Grutle Kjellson was kicking around here at some point today, seemingly just to hang out and why not?), I was curious to see how the Euro crowd would respond. Answer: Much the same. I knew what to expect in terms of performance, as it wasn’t that long since I last saw the band, but they still didn’t disappoint, and thinking about it in hindsight after seeing them on this stage, which is sizable to say the least, they were cramped at Bowery Ballroom. Tonally and in terms of presence, they more than held their own as a main stage act, which for only having one record out is all the more exciting.

Most of what they played I recognized from that record, early 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and seeing them again, it was easier to get a sense of the four-piece’s live dynamic, Brett Campbell holding down the drama on guitar and vocals while bassist Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist Devin Holt bang their heads like they’re trying to get them to come off on the other side of the stage, and behind, drummer Mark Lierly steadily holding songs together and adapting fluidly to what would otherwise be stark tempo changes. The contrast of Rowland and Holt to Campbell is striking, but it makes Pallbearer a richer experience to watch. They’ve certainly had no shortage of hype around them since cropping up, but whatever else you might say about them and however loudly or emphatically you might say it, they’re well on their way to becoming a really great live act. Hopefully they continue to tour and carve out their sound and chemistry on the road.

Now, at every Roadburn, you’re going to see some things that you’ve never seen before and you’ll probably never see again. And even the stuff you have seen before — like tonight’s headliners, Primordial, for example, who came though NYC years back on the first Paganfest — is special here. Bands play better, play different material, and for an American coming over, it’s a chance to see European acts who probably aren’t going to be touring the States anytime soon. I say this so you understand why I left Pallbearer to go back and watch more of Black Bombaim. Since there’s so much going on at every fest, sometimes you have to make hard choices, and I almost always try to lean toward that which I’m less likely to run into later on or that which I’ve never seen before.

However, the Green Room was full to capacity and then some, so I wound up standing in the hallway in a cluster of people to watch for a couple minutes and then hit up the merch area across the way. I’d figured on picking up some discs and was pleased to find a host of Nasoni stuff again at the Exile on Mainstream table, including Johnson Noise and Vibravoid, as well as Burning World Records discs from The Angelic Process and Slomatics. Later on, I’d roll back through and grab more CDs from Svart and finally get a copy of The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Buffalo (review here) on CD. It wasn’t long though before I had to be back at the Main Stage for the start of Penance. Vocalist Lee Smith prefaced their set by saying it was the first time they’d played together since 1993, which math tells me was 20 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Butch Balich-era Penance a lot. I thought Spiritualnatural was a killer record and Proving Ground still kicks my ass on occasion, but 1994’s Parallel Corners, with the lineup of Smith on vocals, guitarist Terry Weston, bassist Rich Freund and drummer Mike Smail has to be their high-point. The Pittsburgh natives resided at exactly the juncture where doom becomes metal, and with a riffy looseness and ultra-straightforward Sabbath-loving ethic, cuts like “Crosses” and “Words Not Deeds” brought out more than a fair share of righteous grooves. Both of those were standouts of their set — “Crosses” I took as a personal favor though I’m sure it wasn’t one — though long breaks between songs and surprisingly quiet banter from Smith seemed to undercut the momentum their riffs were building when they were actually playing, so it was hard for them to get on a roll.

No-frills trad doom, Penance nonetheless got their point across in beefy riffs utterly lacking in pretense. I checked in on Blues Pills in the Green Room from the hallway, and they seemed to be holding it down with no trouble, so I wandered back into the Main Stage area in time to catch “Words Not Deeds” round out the Penance set. From there, it was back to the Green Room to catch Pilgrim, who started early following a guitar and bass classic rocking-type jam during the setup that I’d be interested to hear them take elements from for their next album, which reportedly is in the works. They played new material and cuts from 2012’s Misery Wizard debut like the immediately recognizable lumber of opener “Astaroth,” and not at all surprisingly, had the Green Room packed out the door. I don’t know if the Rhode Island trio are friends with the dudes in Pallbearer or what, but that’s a tour that should probably happen at some point. I’ve seen Pilgrim four times now since they put out that album, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a live act.

Though, to be fair, they did seem a little amped up at the start of their set, but the muscle memory kicked in before they were through the first song — you could actually see it — and they were locked in thereafter. I took pictures and then started to make my way through the crowd to watch from the back, and before I knew it, had kind of a, “Well shit, now what?” moment when the only place to be was outside the room. The answer to that question was “dinner.” I started to head out and get something to eat on the quick when I saw Gravetemple were just getting ready to hit the Main Stage for their start. With a lineup of a pedigree like that of Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar, popping my head in seemed like the least I could do on my way by. Csihar stood in front of a table of who knows what kind of manipulation devices, while O’Malley and Ambarchi came in soon enough on drone guitar. It was super-artsy in that particularly O’Malley kind of way, a different take on some of SunnO)))‘s atmospheres with Csihar‘s vocals providing a distinguishing element along the way. I dug it, but time was a factor, so I moved on to get a bite to eat.

Wound up with some salad, fish and plain pasta which I mixed in with the greens and the dill dressing. It was the first thing I’ve really eaten since I got on the plane that wasn’t a protein bar, and — here’s something that’s not at all shocking — I felt much better afterwards. My brain was like, “Dude, you’re the worst at life. You probably should’ve had a meal yesterday, jerk,” and I tried to argue back but there’s really no talking to that guy, so whatever. The salad was glorious in context for being just an ordinary salad, and though I got a piece of clam stuck in my tooth, the mixed fish was most welcome too. Nothing like actual protein drawing a direct comparison to the would be substitutes for it. By the time I was done, I felt like someone had just given me a piece of particleboard with macaroni glued onto it in the shape of the cover to Volume 4, and by that I mean ready to take on the world. This was fortunate, because High on Fire were getting ready to go on the Main Stage and play The Art of Self Defense front to back.

Or maybe they weren’t getting ready. They kind of took their time coming out from the back, but with a backdrop behind them modified from the album’s original cover from its 2000 release on Man’s Ruin, High on Fire stormed — what else would they do, really? — through the riffy sludge of their first record in a manner befitting its grooving bombast. “10,000 Years” and “Blood from Zion” still feature in their set on the regular (they were aired when I saw the band in Philly late last year), but to get a song like “Fireface” out and have bassist Jeff Matz start off its viscous slog, it was a treat the three-piece seemed to enjoy as well, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike cutting smiles every now and again between solos and the galloping riffs that started it all for the band. Tucked away in the back, drummer Des Kensel punctuated the stomp of “Last” and “Master of Fists” made for a suitably riotous finish, deconstructing at the end to leads and noise.

But they weren’t done. The bonus tracks from the 2001 Tee Pee Records reissue were also included, including the punkish rush of “Steel Shoe” and the Celtic Frost cover “The Usurper,” which Pike called the encore before they started. The room was the most packed out I’d see it the whole day, and it was the first complete set I watched. Elsewhere, other bands were playing, other special gigs taking place, but how could I not watch High on Fire do The Art of Self Defense? In reception, the crowd was unanimous in fervent approval — heads banged, fists pumped, madmen shouted along to Pike‘s long-heralded battle cries — and particularly as the last High on Fire studio outing, De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) was so crisp and tight, it was striking to hear them take on the earlier material. Almost like they were letting their hair down a bit, though as anyone who heard that record can tell you, they’ve hardly lost their edge in the decade-plus since the first record came out.

Rounding out with “The Usurper,” High on Fire still finished early, a good 15 minutes before their scheduled end. I guess there’s only so much album to play. Fair enough. I took notes in my fancypants license place notebook and went back to the merch to pick up some more of the aforementioned odds and ends, and then headed back to the big room in plenty of time for the start of Primordial, who if nothing else were the most thoroughly fronted act I’ve seen so far. The Irish double-guitar five-piece were helmed by vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, who came out with a bottle of Jameson and a bottle of wine and was through the better part of both by the time their 90 minutes were done, and from his stage makeup — that’s not to say corpsepaint, because it wasn’t really corpsepaint — and costuming to his intense on-stage persona, Averill positively owned the 013. I saw Primordial years back when they came through New York on the PaganFest tour (it was a lot of glockenspiels to get to a Primordial set, but worth it), so I knew just how much of a factor the performance element was, but like many before him, the singer stepped up his game to match the occasion, and in a space so large, it was an impressive feat of showmanship.

He also noted more than once from the stage that it was the band’s first time playing Roadburn, and made it clear he felt they were overdue in this — provocateur, I suppose, could be part of the role, but either way — and I wondered if perhaps he was putting in a bid for curator next year. That would assure Pilgrim a return slot (Averill released Pilgrim‘s Misery Wizard via his Poison Tongue imprint through Metal Blade Records), and I wouldn’t mind seeing them take on 2007’s To the Nameless Dead in its entirety, were it in the offing. His other band, the nascent and doomier Dread Sovereign, also play tomorrow, so there’s room to work with, I guess. In the meantime, this set touched on To the Nameless Dead and several others in Primordial‘s seven-album discography, beginning with “No Grave Deep Enough” from 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (review here) and spanning genres as much as full-lengths, running from post-black metal to Celtic-inspired progressions and keeping at times a doomly edge, particularly on newer material like “The Mouth of Judas” or “Cities Carved in Stone,” which closed 2005’s The Gathering Wilderness.

That LP’s title-track and “The Coffin Ships” also featured, the latter penultimate to To the Nameless Dead opener “Empire Falls,” with which they closed. In introducing “The Coffin Ships,” Averill mentioned it was about the Irish famine in the 1800s, and said they were bringing a bit of their history and culture to the here and now. By all accounts I’ve seen, he does seem to think of Primordial‘s music as a sort of ambassadorship — they were very much representing the Republic of Ireland on stage — and though I wondered if maybe there was anyone in the audience who hadn’t already heard of the famine, the song left little to want. Averill had slowed some by then, less foot on the monitor, less back and forth from one end of the stage to the other, tossing around the mic stand, calling everyone present including the band lazy cunts, and so on, but revived with “Empire Falls,” letting adrenaline carry him through the end of the set as he got on his knees and shouted the chorus at the somewhat-dwindled but still strong crowd, who were only too glad to return the favor.

So the headliners were done, but the night still had its closing acts to go. Averill had plugged fellow Irishmen Mourning Beloveth‘s set at Het Patronaat a couple times, and former Hawkwind/Meads of Asphodel bassist Alan Davey was doing Space Ritual in full on the Main Stage, but what I really wanted to see was The Midnight Ghost Train, who were playing at Stage01, formerly known as the Bat Cave, the smallest of the three rooms at the 013. It was full by the time I walked over, and I probably could’ve stood there and gotten bumped into again, and again, and again, but after 16 or 17 times, I started to get claustrophobic and had to get out. Much to my surprise, the band followed not long behind me.

Guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and yet another new bassist walked through the crowd and out of the room. From my spot in the back, I got to say hi to both, and Burghart explained they were doing a stagger-on, one member at a time. Moss had left his guitar feeding back, so there was a steady hum, and I suppose walking back through the audience (no backstage to come out from) there was something of a delay, so that went long, but once their crazed, blues-infused rock got going, the full room of people there to see them had no trouble getting on board for the wild shuffling riffs and Moss‘ throaty vocals. From Kansas to Roadburn. They’re always a lot of fun to watch, and in Tilburg was no exception.

I stayed and got bumped into a few more times and then decided to check out a couple minutes of The Psychedelic Warlords, who were just getting ready for launch at the time. Space rock, man. It sure is spacious. They pulled a good crowd as well of loyal lysergeons and Davey, along with a full lineup of keys, guitar, vocals, drums and sax, were in the process of giving Space Ritual its due. By that point, the “get back to the hotel and start writing” urge was coming on pretty strong, and I didn’t resist. Outside, people sat at the picnic tables (new this year) or ate grub from the outside food stand (also new this year and just closing as I walked by) and smoked whatever they may have felt like smoking. Needless to say, Weirdo Canyon was also abuzz.

Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard were also hanging around the 013 lobby. The band curated tomorrow’s lineup under the heading of “The Electric Acid Orgy,” which one can only imagine will leave but a modicum of survivors. Looking forward.

Extra pics after the jump and more to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2013 Adds Primordial, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Cult of Luna, Pallbearer, Royal Thunder, Moss and More to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Well, I guess we’re in the thick of it now. Once you break the news that Primordial is headlining one of the days and the likes of Cult of Luna and Pallbearer are showing up, you’ve pretty much got yourself a festival going. I’m sure there’s till a ton more to come, but god damn, Roadburn never fails to deliver.

I know it’s not the highest-profile announcement contained in here, but if you missed it, I recently did a track stream for Finnish weirdo rockers Seremonia, and they’re pretty awesome, so if you haven’t heard them yet, definitely worth checking out.

Alright, here’s the news. There’s a lot of it:

PRIMORDIAL TO HEADLINE ROADBURN THURSDAY DATE; UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS, MOSS, WITCHSORROW AND SEREMONIA CONFIRMED FOR JUS OBORN’S CURATED ROADBURN EVENT, THE ELECTRIC ACID ORGY, CULT OF LUNA, PALLBEARER AND ROYAL THUNDER AND MORE CONFIRMED

Only three more days to go! Roadburn Festival 2013 pre-sales start on Thursday, 4 October 2012, at 8:30pm CET. In the meantime, here are the latest updates from Roadburn headquarters:

We’re elated to announce that Ireland’s epic, pagan metallers Primordial will headline the Thursday Roadburn date, Thursday, April 18th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Primordial are truly a band unlike no other; over the last two decades, they have passionately carved a niche of their own, without compromise!

We at Roadburn would like to pay tribute to Primordial‘s massive and melancholic art by inviting them as our Thursday headliners, the band is simply stunning, from their powerful songwriting to the amazing performances. More info on Primordial here: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6pO

The Electric Wizard is proud to present the 1st confirmed ‘Heavy Friends’ for The Electric Acid Orgy at Roadburn 2013 on Friday, April 19th: “Ladies and Gentlemen, hack your resin filled lungs for our very good friends and Britain’s No1 Super Slo-Mo Doom Kings Moss, who will perform selections from their eagerly awaited new LP plus all their classic tombstone(d) liturgies”, says Jus Oborn.

“Also raise your bongs for these awesome new highs: We have our fellow witchfinders and medieval throwbacks Witchsorrow upholding traditional values with solid Fuckin DOOM!! Finnish Occultists Seremonia promise to deliver an acid-fried heavy metal ride and we have the hotly tipped horrorock phenomenon Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats!!! Alrite!!”

“Now if this doesn’t burst your stoned skulls”, says Jus, “we also have the ELECTRIC GRINDHOUSE CINEMA inside the 013 showing demented,sick,weird and grotesque exploitation films from our own collection. Never seen on DVD, the very darkest creations of the Sick Sick Sixties and Seventies projected for one nite only with special guests performing live soudtracks that will burn your retinas and destroy your minds !!”

More Very, Very Special Guests will be announced soon!  PREPARE TO MEET YOUR MAKERS!!!”  More info on The Electric Acid Orgy here http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6pX

More info on Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats making their live debut in mainland Europe at Jus Oborn’s The Electric Acid Orgy here: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6pt

Cult of Luna is a Swedish post-metal band from Umeå. After 5 years away, they will return to play Roadburn Festival on April 20th 2013. On October 5th 2012, they will announce some more news about what they have been doing, and what they have planned. More info on Cult of Luna here: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6pq

Pallbearer will bring their classic doom sound to Roadburn 2013 on Thursday, April 18th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Pallbearer’s epic, timeless riffs and modern production have been taking the music world by storm with their recently released debut album Sorrow and Extinction, no small feat for a doom band. More info on Pallbearer: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6pd

We’re extremely pleased to welcome Atlanta heavy hitters Royal Thunder to Het Patronaat in Tilburg, Holland on Thursday, April 18.  Following up on the critical acclaim their debut Relapse Records’ full-length, CVI received, Royal Thunder bring their uniquely heavy, enthralling, and enveloping rock to European shores for the first time.  More info on Royal Thunder here: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6p8

Sweden’s My Brother The Wind, led by Anekdoten’s Nicklas Barker, will bring their improvised experimental psychedelia to Roadburn Festival 2013 on Saturday, April 20th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. More info on My Brother The Wind here: http://wp.me/p1m0FP-6oU

Roadburn Festival 2013 Ticket Pre-Sales Start Thursday, 4 October 2012 at 20:30 CET.

There will be a 2 ticket limit (per order) for 3-day and 4-day passes and Afterburner tickets. The following creditcards will be accepted: American Express, Mastercard and Visa. As with previous years, there will be a designated campsite at De Beekse Bergen. More info on the ticket sales here: www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2013/tickets

Roadburn Festival 2013, including Electric Wizard, Godflesh playing Pure in its entirety for the first time ever, Neige (Alcest) as Artist-in-Residence, Goat and Die Kreuzen reunion among others, will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Please visit www.roadburn.com for more info.

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Primordial, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand: Of Kings and Pious Men

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

More than 20 years into their career, Irish metallers Primordial are riding the crest of their greatest successes yet. Their 2007 full-length, To the Nameless Dead was the best album of that year and brought them not only their highest sales, but also the opportunity to tour North America for the first time as one of the head acts on the PaganFest, effectively placing them in a leadership role of the pagan metal movement. And deservedly so. Rooted in black metal (Metal Blade has reissued their earlier albums for anyone wishing to explore their formative works), Primordial’s sound is folk metal without the silliness or the costuming. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of drama in Primordial, but it comes from the music itself and the performance of frontman Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, not from the antlers strewn about the stage. As I recall from seeing them on that tour, a trenchcoat and an Irish flag on one of the several guitar stacks was about as far as they went.

On that level, some of the material on their latest offering, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (also Metal Blade) could be seen as “playing it up.” Indeed, even the title lends itself to being taken as a reference to the band’s relatively newfound success on American shores – the US being the “puritan” in question – after so long toiling in obscurity. And with several of the earlier tracks especially featuring direct address from Averill to his audience in the lyrics – “Rise my brothers/Rise from your graves/No grave is deep enough/To keep us in chains” from memorable opener “No Grave Deep Enough” – and “I’ve told you once/I’ve told you a thousand times/No regrets/No remorse” from “Bloodied Yet Unbowed,” which is perhaps Primordial’s most explicit exploration of their own circumstances to date, one might call Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand their most crowd-conscious work yet. In the chorus of “No Grave Deep Enough” comes a genuine folk metal progression, which isn’t something they’ve actually done before (they’ve always been more Bathory than Skyclad), however much they’ve been saddled with that genre designation in reviews. I won’t call it a capitulation, because I don’t believe a band goes 20-plus years doing whatever the fuck they want and then gets a taste of mainstream metal success and suddenly abandons the ethic that got them there, but Primordial are a smart enough act to know what works for them, and on Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, that’s exactly what they’re playing to. In a way, it’s meeting expectation in the songwriting, but there’s no question that Primordial are still engaging their followers on their own terms.

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Primordial Interview with Alan Averill: “We’re Witnessing the Absolute Deconstruction of Irish Society.”

Posted in Features on May 4th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Dublin, Ireland‘s Primordial are nothing if they’re not hard to classify. The band, formed in 1987, could have been called black metal in their earliest work, but have long since transcended such easy genre-tagging. Because the lyrics of frontman Alan Averill come from a specifically Irish perspective and Ciáran MacUiliam (he and bassist Pól “Paul” MacAmlaigh are the remaining founding members of the band) has never been shy about incorporating Celtic influences, Primordial saw a major profile upgrade as part of the folk metal explosion in 2006-2008. In 2009, they toured the US for the first time as part of PaganFest.

Like many Americans, my first exposure to the band was 2005’s The Gathering Wilderness, which was their fifth album overall but first for Metal Blade Records, who also released To the Nameless Dead in 2007. By my judgment, To the Nameless Dead was the best album that came out that year, and though it would be two more years before I was able to catch the band live, I was still thrilled to do so. Likewise, now that Primordial have issued their first live DVD, All Empires Fall, I was equally excited to interview Alan Averill.

Averill is known for his opinions on a range of topics both music-related and not almost as much as his brash stage persona, and though All Empires Fall was the impetus for the conversation, there was more I wanted to get a sense of his feelings on social issues in his home country, where the Catholic church had at the time of our discussion just been in the news following more reports of sexual abuse by priests, and, by Averill‘s account, society has more or less collapsed.

To quote Marty DiBergi, “I got that. I got more. A lot more.” In the following Q&A, Alan Averill talks about the state of Ireland, his feelings on nationalism, economic hardships and rails against venues in the US for taking a percentage of merch sales from bands (which I’d never heard of before), through it all showing every ounce of the passion he carries with him into shows and onto albums.

Please enjoy the interview after the jump.

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