Jan 212022

Primeval Well


No, we’re not like an elevator in a hotel. We don’t skip 13. In my way of thinking, 13 is a lucky number — a prime one. And I’ve chosen three prime cuts to include in this installment of the list. The first two have important folk ingredients, from traditions separated by about 5,000 miles. The third one is more extreme than the first two, but is also intensely memorable.

To check out the songs on the list that have preceded these three, and to understand what the list is all about, use THIS LINK.




I’ve explained previously that the songs I choose for this list are not necessarily the best songs of the year nor do they necessarily come from the year’s best albums. Instead, “infectiousness” is the defining characteristic. But in the case of the first song in today’s installment, it does come from what I consider to be one of the best albums of 2021 — Primeval Well’s Talkin’ In Tongues With Mountain Spirits.

I had the privilege of premiering a full stream of the album last October, accompanied by a very wordy review which included this passage:

The band’s formidable talent for interweaving so many musical textures and exploring so many moods comes through again and again over the course of the album. Over and over, they make the most of dynamic drumming and deft basswork, and they plant piercing, skirling melodies in the head, using both a wonderful array of different folk and metal instruments and varying tonal alterations to maintain the rare, mind-blowing quality of this adventure, an adventure in which we experience wistfulness and wonder, danger and derangement, chilling visitations of supernatural spirits, harrowing possession, fierce ecstasy, and heart-breaking loss.

I suppose not everyone will fall as hard as I did for the band’s blending of black metal and Appalachian folk traditions, but I will continue to urge everyone to listen to the album. It is incredibly moving and memorable, and by my lights a song that is intensely memorable qualifies as an “infectious song”. There’s not one track on Talkin’ In Tongues that isn’t memorable, which made it tough for me to pick just one for this list. In that wordy review I wrote this about the one I finally did choose:

In “She Flies Undead“, old country guitar and fiddle harmonies ripple and ring over leg-bouncing rhythms, and old-time country singing flies high — everything still doused with a healthy helping of distortion, and the song spins up into boiling black metal madness as well, like the tornado has come down, scattering the congregation like splintered trees. And yet as frightening as the experience is, the extravagant guitar and fiddle work still makes it utterly enthralling, lifting the listener off the ground and sending them flying too.





Our old friend Professor D. Grover the XIIIth penned the review of Thy Catafalque‘s newest opus (Vadak) that we published. He remarked about how different the songs sound from each other, but how they nevertheless all sound like the work of the band’s mastermind Tamás Kátai:

There is a song that sounds like Eluveitie. There is a song with ’80s style synthwave elements. There is a song with elements of smooth jazz. There is a song that reminds me of the theme from Rawhide. All of these are excellent and fit perfectly into this album, and if that sounds like absolute bullshit, well, I don’t blame you for thinking that. I wouldn’t believe it myself, if I hadn’t heard it.

I think that this album truly crystallized for me a thought that I’d been subconsciously working my way toward for the last several years and Thy Catafalque releases. Tamás Kátai has achieved mastery over his musical style, complete and utter mastery, and as a result he can do just about anything and make it sound very distinctively like his work…. It’s a rarity in a constantly-changing music industry that grinds up and spits out artists at an incredible rate, for an artist to have that combination of talent, career longevity, and creative freedom necessary to achieve this level of mastery.

I really appreciated and loved the album as well, though like Grover I’ve made very clear over many years the extent of my devotion to Kátai‘s music, which I suppose now threatens my objectivity. Picking just one song for this list was challenging, in part because the songs really do go in so many different directions. The one I picked is “Piros-sárga“, and I’ll again borrow Grover‘s words in introducing it:

Piros-Sárga’ (roughly translated: Red-Yellow) served as the first music released from Vadak, and it’s a great track, featuring a propulsive tempo, funk-laced bass, horns, a variety of percussion instruments, and Kátai’s signature keyboard work, topped by a great vocal performance by Superbutt frontman András Vörös. It’s heavy without being overly metal, and it’s a perfect summation of the Thy Catafalque sound.





When Andy Synn put Vukari’s Omnes Nihil at the No. 3 spot on his year-end list of 2021’s best EPs, he wrote this:

Taking absolutely no prisoners, the four tracks which make up Omnes Nihil showcase Vukari in their absolute prime, delivering their signature brand of electrifyingly intense, dizzyingly immersive Black Metal in a way which manages to simultaneously stir your emotions, pluck at your heartstrings, and rub your nerves raw.

The EP arrived without much advance warning, but seized my attention too, and I reviewed it here. I observed: “The cover art for Omnes Nihil is heartbreakingly bleak, as is the title of this EP, which I think translates to ‘all is nothing’. The music is also bleak, albeit in differing ways, and it’s all absolutely breathtaking.

I’ve found over time that the title track is the one I’ve gone back to most often, because it is indeed so memorable that it qualifies as “infectious”. From my review:

The title track drowns the senses in its immense, sweeping power, and if anything sounds even more despairing, to the point of derangement. Yet there is a terrible majesty in the music as it soars above meandering but transfixing bass and guitar arpeggios. It too has a gripping finale, steeped in sorrow.



  1. Primeval Well is straight cash 10 out of 8 times. Exactly my cup of tea.

    • I’m the same way. Their music is so different from just about everything else out there, and so well-executed. Both their releases so far have been superb. Maybe we won’t have to wait two more years for the next one (fingers crossed).

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