Released: 2014, Maple Metal Records
This young band from Toronto, Canada seem to have lots going for them. They have a cool name, good logo, and a cool album cover. It reminds me just a little of an obscure album from a band Swedish called Defender, who released an album called THEY CAME OVER THE HIGH PASS back in 1999. A little research reveals that the gorgeous cover was done by Jan Yrlund; who has done cover art for dozens of bands including Imperia, Trails of Tears, Sirenia and most notably, Manowar and Korpiklaani.
Primalfrost have released their debut album PROSPEROUS VISIONS on the Maple Metal record label, and the word ‘their’ may be a bit misleading because essentially Primalfrost is a one-man project; the brainchild of Dean Arnold. Some fans may know Dean from another Toronto act Will Of The Ancients. One person acts may seem odd to some people but they have never really bothered me, I would not discount an album based on how many members are I nthe band, because that would seem like a superficial way to judge an album. Based soley on music, PROSPEROUS VISIONS is an excellent album. The 10 song album runs just under an hour. The album opens with a longish and interesting melodic introductory piece called, ‘Visio Prosperum’ which is very soundtrack-like in it’s atmosphere with orchestration and symphonic touches. It’s a nice piece that is an excellent counter-point to the skull-fracturing opening song, ‘Distant Cries Of War’. Primalfrost play a style of Blackened Power Metal with hints of Folk Metal and orchestral touches. There are many sonic things going on in the album. There are some choral chanting, almost Gregorian in style, and some acoustic guitar, keyboards and so on. These are especially apparent in the closing song as well, a cut called ‘Unforgotten Valour’, which is a very clever way to book-end the album with the two most instrumental/symphonic compositions. ‘Awakening Of The Boreal Sun’ is another shorter instrumental linking piece featuring some nice acoustic piano work.
The rest of the album is very intense, heavy, fast with blackened vocals. What is perhaps the centerpiece of the album is ‘The End Of Tyranny songs, two of them running a total of almost 19 minutes. The drums veer close to blast beats at times with lots of double-kick and if they are programmed, so be it. It still sounds good. There is a lot of variety, for example a song like ‘Tale Of A Hero’ is more akin to later (Nordland -era) Bathory, with hints of acoustic guitar again, and some clean vocals and Viking/folk elements. Is that a harp I hear at the beginning of ‘Cathartic Quest’?
In my experience when an artist first goes solo, they try to bring in everything they know (including the kitchen sink) into their debut album. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is an unholy mess. While Primalfrost has multiple facets, and may even border on schizophrenic, somehow Arnold manages to bring all these dissimilar sounds into a cohesive whole. This makes PROSPEROUS VISIONS a very dynamic, varied and above all, interesting listening experience. This is hard to do well and I’m quite impressed how it all comes together. After several listens I’m still hearing more things I like. A very impressive debut. You should buy it so the prosperous visions of Primalfrost come to pass.