Worlds removed from the somewhat simple and more straightforward synth ambient approach of the material on the 'Equinox' split with Ancient Tundra, 'Primal' brings a new direction that's considerably more evocative, focused and organic in style for Old Forgotten Lands - the solo project of Elan O'Neal. With a grocery list of instruments being included, such as the bodhran, Tibetan singing bowl, flute, accordion, timpani, maracas and rainstick (to a name a few of them) these instruments are often paired with acoustic guitars, field recordings, light ambiance and occasional spoken vocals to create something that sounds not only unique, but also ancient and timeless in character. Immediate influences could point towards the acoustic side of Agalloch or even bands like Nest or Tenhi, though the songs of 'Primal' are more than simple artist flattery or direct imitation. Atmosphere is ever present and at a high during this release as Elan and his list of guests take the listener back to a time and place of long, long ago.
The opener 'Hour of the Wolves' sets the stage with a variety of percussive instruments that intermingle with acoustic guitar and voice, while 'Song of the Dens' is more ambient based, using a deep meditative synth line throughout its duration, whereas, 'Renewal Neverending...' uses a more elaborate guitar melody that although repetitive is quite soothing in its conveyance. Similarly, '...With Each Prevailing Wind' has a memorable ceaseless acoustic lick alongside a haunting backing synth melody and slowly spoken vocals that lasts for nine minutes, but is hardly boring during its duration. 'Lakewood' is the most diverse song however, sounding more akin to something cinematic or some countries ethnic music, it has a twisted trumpet riff, tons of percussive instruments and variety of voices and singing to make it one of the albums biggest standouts. 'Old Forgotten Lands' is the most neo folk sounding piece on the album and quite frankly my favorite as well, while 'Death of an Estranged Earth' is similar, although adds more instruments and stretches out to fourteen minutes too. The final two songs are equally good, 'Atop the Mystic Mountain' in particular hankers back to the older OFL's sound of melodic ambient.
All in all, its a bit hard to explain this record in writing, because I can't perfectly portray the sounds herein in that form. It is however enormously recommended to anyone that feels that sort of deep nostalgic yearning inside their souls that brings their minds and hearts to a time and place of long ago, a place they might not even mind escaping to while leaving this modern world far behind. Beautiful ambiance, brilliant acoustic passages and a smorgasbord of other instruments, voices, influences, thoughts and atmospheres take the listener on a 'Primal' journey to Old Forgotten Lands...
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