Title: Will of the Primordial
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Release date: 03 August 2019
Format reviewed: Bandcamp Digital Version
For snow covered Siberia!
Two years after their last full-length release “Tales of the Enchanted Woods“, twin brothers Morbius & Vilhelm return with another serving of ice cold, atmospheric Siberian black metal. Their project GRIMA released its third full-length record “Will of the Primordial“ on 03 August 2019 on Naturmacht Productions!
Does it hold up in comparison to their previous work? Is it even better?
That’s what I want to answer in this, my first review for BAZ!
On “Will of the Primordial” GRIMA evoke imagery of the frosty, snowcovered taiga, harsh winter storms, raging currents and you as the listener feel enthralled in the winds of winter.
The lyrics mostly illustrate the harsh nature of the Siberian winter, the dangers one most face in such a beautiful, yet dangerous environment. For example the lyrics to “Leshiy” describe a wanderer getting off the beaten path and therefore facing the unknown, in this case characterized as a Slavic folklore-deity: леший (Leshy), patron of the forests, calling upon all creatures of the woods to seek shelter from the approaching winter, to await the coming of spring.
On a more peaceful note “Enisey” is about the entwindness of all life while also metaphorically using the river Енисе́й (Yenisei), a current which connects multiple streams, leading into the arctic ocean. Overall, the lyrics paint a balanced picture of the Siberian nature in its beauty and dangerousness.
The vocal performance on “Will the of Primordial” is also very strong, Vilhelms ice cold screams really enhance the atmosphere of the record. The more or less classic black metal screams are also regularly exchanged with deep, death metal-like growls to accentuate particularly heavy or intense moments in the album. The best examples of these growls can be found in “Blizzard” & “Howl at Night”, both tracks that are on the second half, towards the end of the album.
The vocals are also were the first point of criticism comes in: In comparison to “Tales from the Enchantend Woods”, some of the vocal experimentation from that record has been dropped on GRIMAs third album, the disturbing high shrieks or the clean vocals found on tracks like “The Moon and Its Shadows” are not present in this outing of the band. In my opinion, some more vocal variety could have enriched the performance even more, but, even including this point of critique, the vocals on this album are still very good!
Building upon the sounds of their previous record, GRIMA implement elements of folk and ambient music into this new album, adding to the already very solid instrumentation. The guitar tone proceeds from sharp riffing that sounds like a harsh blizzard, to more doomy and slow riffs, more of a peaceful snowfall. The same goes for the drumming, that can either be slow and more of a background enhancement to the overall sound or stomping and heavy, hitting you like an avalanche.
The before mentioned folk- and ambient-elements are utilized in various ways across the album, they can either be the focal point of a track or used to create background ambiance. For example, in “Enisey” the ambient keyboard is a big part in the foreground of the songs overall instrumentation, while on previous tracks, they were more of a background tool.
On “Will of the Primordial” Morbius & Vilhelm demonstrate a great talent in seamless changes in tempo and tone: The folk-infused intro to “Siberian Sorrow” leads into the heavy onset of the other instruments, later, it’s not a surprise to hear the accordion-like folk-tones again, this time in support of the other instruments, like in “The Shrouded in Darkness”. The songs are also very well structured, regular changes in riffing or the drum-pattern keep the songs moving, there is always something new happening. Quieter parts also make space for the bass or a folky interlude, to give some much needed warmth in between the icy-heaviness. Overall, there is a good balance between ambiance and more intense parts. All of this greatly contributes to the overall flow of the album!
Another part of the great song-flow and -progression is, that a majority of the tracks end on a very high note. In most cases, there is a climactic riff, a definite highlight for the track, that gives them that touch of epicness.
Where the flow of the album suffers a bit (for me that is), is the two “Instrumental Compositions”. These, although they create some breathing room, fall flat in comparison to the other (named) tracks. Also, before these compositions, there is a 30 second silence… this really took me out of the experience a bit. To be honest, at first, I thought my headphones went out.
“Instrumental Composition II” really stood out to me, because “Howl at Night” felt like a really great closing track, and while the second instrumental is still musically good, perhaps it would have been beneficial to extend the outro of the penultimate track instead of adding it as a separate song. This is the only criticism I have though. Besides this, the tracks blend into one another really well!
Lastly, the production of the album, done by Vladimir Lekhtinen, is very good. This is by no means a lofi production, but it doesn’t need to be, the production of the album is clean enough, without seeming clinical/sterile. When a track needs to sound a bit harsher, it does.
To be clear, this is not a perfect album and it doesn’t reinvent the wheel of black metal, but it still is a very good and, because of its Russian folk influence, recognizable Atmo-black metal record!
GRIMA – “Will of the Primordial” will join my regular rotation for sure, it might not top my album of the year list in the end, but it will likely be on there. A definite recommendation for fans of atmospheric black metal, go give this one a listen! 8/10 the trve Medvson
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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