Primordial + Dead Congregation + Drowned + Malthusian
Line-up: A.A. Nemtheanga (Vocals) Ciáran MacUiliam (Guitars) Michael O’Floinn (Guitars) Pól MacAmlaigh (Bass) Simon O’Laoghaire (Drums)
A new biography….a new site. With this new biography I have tried to make it a little more involved then the old ones, more detail, more insight and some might say who know me, more self involved waffle and useless information. However paying heed to detractors never was one of my strong points, so let us start at the start…right at the start…
1987 – Yep, 1987. At this time Metal was pretty damn popular in Ireland and in the town of Skerries (some 20 miles outside Dublin) several young teenagers (just) were about to take up arms in the name of Metal.Paul (bass) and his brother, let’s call him D (for drums) started learning to play, caught in the thrash metal buzz. Obviously influenced by Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth. In the end of the year of ’87 a young man by the name of Ciaran arrived, armed with six strings and ready to burn…ahem, well perhaps not quite but the three intrepid young man set out on a quest and with all bands this started by playing covers… Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica, Dead Kennedys, Slayer, S.O.D. etc. Somewhere the seeds had been sown.
1988 – With various singers coming and going, Paul attempted to sing…or rather belch for most of this year and sometime in ’88 the band as a three piece recorded a four track demo with a cover of Death “Born Dead” and Sepultura “Screams Behind The Shadows” and one or two original tracks. One which incidentally contained a variation of the riff that became the first piece of the song “Journey’s End” from the same album! Moving more into the realms of extreme thrash and early death metal as their technical level improved all the time, bands like Sepultura and Death were fast becoming their new mentors.
1989 – Not really sure what to report from the year 1989, the band with a mixture of singers were now playing some local gigs in their town, apparently one on top of a bank? What the band were called at this stage and even before is shrouded in mystery and a clandestine occult haze. Although someone did mention the Sticky Clits… the mystery runs deeper.
1990 – Still the hardcore of the two brothers and Ciaran. Seems as if things were getting a little more serious now as the logos were becoming increasingly difficult to read and the pentagrams and inverted crosses more profound. Of course by this stage and to some degree the previous year bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Autopsy and Pestilence were having a massive influence on our three intrepid Metal Warriors.
1991 – This year can be seen as a big change for the band, not least because this is the year I joined the band (ahem), but now a little older and with more playing ability the band sought to find a singer by placing one fateful add in Dublin’s main Metal shop, an act that displayed a in itself a willingness to take this further than what it had been. Living indeed in what was a relatively isolated part of the county of Dublin (Skerries), or rather not at the hub of the city’s underground the guys were not privy to the sounds of Samael, Master’s Hammer, Impaled Nazarene, Rotting Christ, Necromantia or Mayhem for example… which is more where I came in, being the only person who answered the add and indeed being awful at the first rehersal, but what I did bring was a knowledge of the underground scene, having been writing around the world at this stage for some years and having done my first fanzine. It seemed like a good marriage, my talentless enthusiasm and underground savvy and their burgeoning playing ability. That October we played our first gig in Skerries community hall with a Metallica cover-band and we played covers by Sodom, Sepultura, Death and Massacre among others… And the first tentative steps at aping our heroes was beginning… we started to try and write songs.
1992 – This was the year that we started to play some gigs in Dublin, the little underground Death/Black enclave in Ireland was burgeoning. Back then we really knew fuck all about fuck all but it was to be honest exciting. There was also a compilation tape released that Summer with a rehersal version of “The Darkest Flame” on there. For Primordial completists if such people exist I guess this is truly the rarest thing there is. It was the first compilation of it’s kind in Ireland and in retrospect one of the most important turning points. Our first two original tracks “Nefarious Affliction” (yep I know!) and “Prince of The Sky” contained many Satanic (albeit naïve) and Occult references and this began to see us at odds with the rest of the Irish scene. We saw ourselves as having more in common with a band like Rotting Christ or Varathron then many of the eco-friendly hardcore “death” metallers in the Irish scene. Black Metal polarisation lay around the corner… the impetuosity of youth my friends! That year we also wrote “To Enter Pagan” which is now a staple in the live set still, and most of “To The Ends of The Earth”, things were indeed changing and that December we changed the name of the band to…Primordial.
1993 – I must be honest, at this stage we were writing songs but doing a demo did not seem a tangible reality, what with school work, money, travel and equipment taken into account. Over the previous year we had been finding our sound and found ourselves looking back to bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, Sabbatand Candlemass for inspiration, and feeling far more part of the burgeoning Black Metal scene over the previous year and with the death metal scene becoming for the most part staid and boring…it was obvious that if we could do a demo it would most defintely be rooted firmly within the second wave Black Metal movement. And indeed in June of 1993 what had seemed previously impossible was achieved. We recorded our first and only demo “Dark Romanticism”, recorded for about £50 in the lads home town of Skerries in a converted front room studio on eight tracks. Considering the equipment and the time and our experience we were quite shocked at how well it came out. “Dark Romanticism” went on to sell over 1 100 copies and is still heralded by many as a classic second wave Black Metal demo. At the time we left the politics of labels and categories to others but it was clearly obvious in retrospect it was Black Metal. We played our first gig painted up and ready for War in August of that year, times were indeed changing and I think underneath the greasepaint and leather we knew these were special songs and being signed and actually recording a CD was perhaps going to happen?! And slowly but surely the offers started to come in…1993…some year that was my friends!
1994 – Peaceville weren’t interested… however Jonny from Deaf the Peaceville imprint was and with names like Eucharist, At The Gates and Dissection being thrown around we were more than impressed. The Deaf Metal sampler came out and we were being pencilled in as one of the first bands to be on the Deaf roster. Then nothing? Candlelight called… Necromantic Gallery, Unisound, Hellspawn, more and more really underground labels were contacting us. At this point in time Candlelight seemed to be at the centre of our dealings. We helped organise some shows for then Candlelight bands Decomposed and Korpse hoping Candlelight would come over and sort it all out, they never appeared and neither did the contract. A youngDani Filth had been pestering their fledgling label Cacophonous to sign us, yet they wanted to hear more songs. The answer came in the form of the live tape we recorded that night we played with Decomposed, Korpse and The Fifth Dominion (now Arcane Sun), containing five new tracks that was the tape that got us the deal with Cacophonous Records. And the tape that has been refered to by some people as “An Infernal Summers Night”, although it was never really heavily traded… some people did indeed have it, there was no cover though! In November without any idea of the machinations of recording an album we went into where we recorded our demo, spent a lot of money hiring equipment and desks and this and that, after 12 days we were left with a sub standard album (demo!)… not awful but not fit for release. The saga had just begun.
1995 – We had to wait until May to remix the album. Not knowing our arse from our elbow we had recorded the album on one inch reel tape (which for anyone not familiar with recording, probably the least professional and least used size!) so Nihil and myself from Cacophonous had to haul a one inch reel machine around London and then all the way to Yorkshire… to Dewsbury and Academy to transfer reels and remix “Imrama”. We found channels with nothing on them that should have been drums, things recorded in mono… you get the picture. That “Imrama” is at all listenable is down to Mags at Academy. That was the beginning of a long friendship between the band and him. “Imrama” was remixed in three days and finally released in September of 1995, just shy of one year after it was recorded. That year also saw us play our first gig outside of Ireland at a Devils church festival in London together with Occult, Gomorrah and Bal-Sagoth among others. A very important step for the Irish scene in general, not just the band. Following the release of the CD, without one single interview it sold by all accounts quite well in the not as yet saturated market. Talk of tours with everyone from Gehenna and Bal-Sagoth to Samael and Cradle of Filth went around but nothing transpired. Relationships between us all were very strained and it was four young men very at odds with each other who went over to play with Cradle of Filth and Gorgoroth in late 1995 at the Metal Hammer fourplay night in London at the Astoria 1. 1995 closed out with us just having done our biggest ever gig, the album being received well and the future looking well… well it should have been, instead it closed with tempers fraying and blood boiling…
1996 – Quite easily the worst year for the band, it stands out in my memory as being shockingly bad. Absolutely nothing happened of any note other than one gig in Athy, Co. Kildare in a massive GAA hall withThe Fifth Dominion and Thy Sinister Bloom that was stopped halfway through our set. Having a gig stopped by the police, cool eh? It in fact sucked… as did 1996.
1997 – If one productive thing came from 1997 it was the long overdue exit of the malignant cancer within the band, i.e. the drummer. For various legal reasons and much wrangling Cacophonous released into the arms of those sapphic splendours… Misanthropy Records. An album seemed a long way off when we inked some sort of deal so we recorded in about six hours a version of “To Enter Pagan” from our demo for a split 10″ with Katatonia from Sweden. The recording proved somewhat of an abortion and also marked the last appearance of the drummer. Now we were drummerless, however a guy who I had known since 1989 who I had linked up with Geasa sprung to mind, it seemed at the time we didn’t really have a choice. With pressure from Misanthropy looming and some shows with the reformed Mayhem in the UK looming that Winter, in September Simon O’Laoghaire joined the band on the drums. And these very Mayhem gigs marked the appearance guesting on the bass of our now new second guitar player Fergal from Arcane Sun. The gig turned out ok, what surrounded them was indeed a nightmare what with our new drummer doing his best Shane McGowan impression and all manner of other things. 1997 finished with the knowledge that in February of the following year we were going to record our second album in Academy studios in Yorkshire… we also knew we weren’t prepared! An understatement!
1998 – Looking back “Journeys End” was and is a very dark album, obscure and obtuse in many ways and somewhat hesitant in affirming any uplifting qualities. In retrospect I think the previous two years of bitterness and frustration helped mould the sound. Yet once it was recorded it was like a weight from around our necks, with relationships improving and a unified focus becoming apparent we could move on ahead. My biggest regret at this time is the changing of the cover from the one on the promo of the CD or on the now vinyl to the brown non-descript album cover… basically we were blackmailed, Tiziana hated it and wanted it changed, yet it was advertised in many places with the other cover, bullshit of course. Needless to say the album was released to critical acclaim but due to that change and the impaired German distribution it remained that, a critics choice. However what had one time seemed impossible, i.e recording a new album had been achieved, we could move onward and upward. It was becoming clear that things were not as they had been at Misanthropy Records and before the years end it became clear that we were going to have to move on and find a new label. Misanthropy was ceasing operations, Tiziana tired of the music industry in all it’s forms basically wanted out and rather than flog a dead horse she decided to end it all, a decision I still totally respect. It was at this time that our ill fated tour with Menhir from Germany and Thyrfing from Sweden was falling apart… it in fact never did happen, but Mr. Guido from Hammerheart was first to offer the band a contract upon discovering Misanthropy was to end, we decided as we knew him from the oldBifrost underground days and looking at Hammerheart as a fast growing company to go with them… so I booked the studio for March 1999, we were going to record a new long mini-CD… force ourselves to work with deadlines and prove to some people, most of all ourselves that we were not going to disappear without trace again…
1999 – Definitely a new beginning, the newer songs had a greater sense of urgency and there was a new confidence and energy in the band, this can be heard on the “The Burning Season” MCD released around September on our new label Hammerheart! And in May of that year we went over to play with Hades Almighty and Mayhem in the “Annihilation of the Lowlands” mini tour of Belgium and Holland, our first gigs in the continent and a real learning experience and two very good gigs from our point of view, the energy and urgency was becoming barely controllable, we knew we had to deliver a real fist in the face with the next album. There was talk of us being on that Decembers No Mercy Festival, but with only a MCD to promote it seemed we were destined to miss out on yet another opportunity. However rather than accept that we would be doing nothing a seed had been planted by a friend for us in Portugal and after much wrangling seven straight days in Portugal and Spain were organised in December together with Sacred Sinand Masque of Innocence, a truly memorable experience and one I don’t think any of us will ever forget ever… and for once we were rounding out the year with new songs, the studio booked for the following year (February) and a great positive experience to take us into the millenium… The Dawn of Satan’s Millenium huh? Hasta Satana 99
2000 – Slightly more prepared then for “A Journey’s End” we went into the studio in February to record “Spirit The Earth Aflame” in Dublin with Mags, just as we had done “The Burning Season”. This time with better preparation, better equipment and a better attitude we came out with the songs we are the most satisfied. It had been a long search! The album came out and right now is the fastest selling album ever on Hammerheart Records… the band is growing, the label is growing. An eight day tour with our Metal brethrenThyrfing from Sweden and Shadowbreed from Holland passed by, several festivals, noticeably With Full Force, Windorock and the Wave Gothik Treffen. We signed a new publishing deal with Edition Wolffackel/Warner and Sure Shot Worx, a new second guitar player as well I may add… enter Lucifergal. Things were and are looking up, and we are stronger and more focused than ever on the task in hand. The press has been unanimous in it’s praise of Spirit and for once things are going in the right direction. Upon writing this 2000 is more that half way to it’s end, the album is released domestically in the States in August and there are tours to confirm… seems like the work may just be about to pay off?
2001 – The band don’t play many shows in 2001 and Fergal’s tenure within the band is short lived. Replaced by M. O Floinn. The band start work on writing their 4th album. Problems begin to emerge with Hammerheart Records. The bands first two albums “Imrama” and “Journeys End” are re-released by HHR.
2002 – The band begin recording as a 4 piece in Yorkshire together with Mags. Through much stress, financial and legal problems “Storm Before Calm” is recorded. The band play a few Irish shows, a few festivals and a mini tour with Mercenary and Callenish Circle. Hammerheart are in financial trouble and drop the ball with “Storm”, the press is again excellent but the promotion and artwork somewhat lacking.
2003 – The band head out on a European tour together with Rotting Christ and Enthroned. The promotion for the tour is poor to non existent but the band perform well. The band realise they have to try and find another label. They tour once again with Ancient Rites, Thyrfing and Septic Flesh among others and visit both Romania and Bulgaria with Negura Bunget and play Greece for the first time. The band goes into hibernation over the Winter spending most of the time involved in legal matters.
2004 – The band play a couple of shows here and there and finally agree a deal with Metal Blade records from Germany. HHR essentially dissolves with the re-release of “Dark Romanticism” as a parting gift. The band record their fifth album “The Gathering Wilderness” in Dublin together with Billy Anderson. The band attempt to head in a rawer more live sound. The press receive the album again incredibly and sales improve in a dwindling marketplace. It also marks M O Floinns first creative contribution to the band, breaking with tradition.
2005 – The Majority of 2005 is spent doing mini tours and playing festivals. The band play in some new territories like Finland and most of the Summer seems to be spent sitting around in Fields all over Europe waiting to play or staggering around causing trouble after playing…Again however the big tour eludes the band after not only the Xmass festival collapses then a festival tour with Morbid Angel disappears….
2006 – The band play their first show in America, a festival entitled “The Heathen Crusade”. They decide to bring the idea to Europe and do a small headlining tour of Europe together with Moonsorrow and Mourning Beloveth. They play a handful more festivals around Europe and their biggest show in Ireland supporting Opeth also. The slow and painful process of songwriting also begins.
2007 – While writing songs the band play a handful of shows mainly in Germany before entering Foel Studios in North Wales during the monsoon summer. Over 2 weeks the bands 6th album and second for Metal Blade is recorded. “To the Nameless Dead” is released in Europe on November 16th and in America on November 27th.
Warfare over three decades! A.A.N. – Primordial