Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Croppies Acre

Primordial have released a new album. Actually, it’s been out for quite a while now. Upon initial listen, it doesn’t sound like their best work. But then I recall how it took me no less than a year of occasionally listening to Primordial before I realised how brilliant the band is.

This new album is called ‘Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand’. Now, for those of you who are familiar with Irish history you will at once be reminded, upon reading ‘puritan’, of that darkest of figures in Irish history, Oliver Cromwell. Obviously, the title imbues the notions of redemption from someone closer to God and His will, and of death at someone’s hand. As is Primordial’s style, they have never mentioned the English outright and, rather, prefer to simply allude to them. Hence, their songs are metaphorical, sometimes ironical, and often include very rich imagery and intense emotive expressions, which all make their songs, for all intents and purposes, poems (you rarely say that about any genre of music, let along metal).

The first song ‘No Grave is Deep Enough’ has the chorus ‘O death! Where are you teeth? That gnaw the bones of fabled men. O Death! Where are you claws? That haul me from the grave.’ and ends with a great lyric: ‘Rise, my brothers, rise from your graves. No grave is deep enough to keep us enchained.’ I just had the thought that this could so easily refer to the Croppies’ Acre.

Croppies’ Acre is an enclosure situated in front of Collins Barracks in Dublin city centre. It was in this small patch of ground where hundreds, some say over one thousand, of Irish men were buried in one mass grave after the 1798 rebellion. They were mercilessly tortured, marched out to their soon-to-be graves in heavy chains, before being executed for ‘being’ rebels. Then, their corpses were thrown into a mass grave. Made an example of by the British authorities, buried in unconsecrated ground, their memory erased, forgotten about by not only the British but also the Irish themselves, the souls buried underneath that patch of grass are still very angry. I’ve been told by psychics that many of those souls have not yet passed on into the next world. Such was the injustice served to them that they can only but wait for those wrongs to be righted, or avenged.

I, as well as many others, remember them. We have not forgotten. I believe they know this. And I hope they also know that no grave is deep enough to keep them enchained.

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