PRIMEVAL REALM, Primordial Light (2014, Pure Steel)
Although the ultimate example of a skull-hill has been deemed insufficiently stupid to qualify for admission to the Skullection, this new work from Pennsylvania’s Primeval Realm more than bridges the gap. Golgatha, the hill on which Jesus was supposedly crucified, was translated to mean “place of the skull,” and here we have the most literal possible interpretation of that translation, even if it seems weird to pair such obvious Christian imagery with language (Primeval, Primordial) that is clearly meant to suggest a far earlier time than a mere 2000 years ago. But, whatever! Who are we to poo-poo so fine a skull hill as this? The poor skull looks like those crosses are giving him the damndest headache, and I especially appreciate that even as a metaphor made real, this skull looks beat-up and toothless. I guess it’s tough work propping up the Calvariæ Locus.
Obsessed-style doom is for sure not a favorite of mine, but Primordial Realm unquestionably do this style absolutely as well as it could possibly be done. The songwriting is top notch, with plenty of trad-metal hooks to temper the obligatory (if leaden) Sabbath nods, and a totally crushing production. I can’t say I’m entitely sold on guitarist/mastermind Joe Potash’s vocals, which have a kind of baritone, everyman temper to them, but his melodies are good enough to make up for his lackluster tone. Brian Leahy’s thick, humming Hammond lines easily fill the space sometimes too keenly-felt in single guitar bands, though he rarely steps out front. At their best, Primeval Realm channel early 90s Trouble, minus Eric Wagner (of course) and the signature twin-axe stylings of Chicago’s finest, and even a pale imitation (which Primeval Realm are not) of that band’s finest era can yield some impressive tunes. Of course, this is still doom metal, so by the end of the album, if you’re at all like me, you’ll be ready for it to stop, but believe me, as someone who is compelled to listen to a lot of mediocre doom metal, when you’re not scrambling to hit “stop” midway through the first tune, you’re doing great.
— Friar Johnsen