I always knew that I was going to enjoy this album as I have been a fan of Primal Fear for as long as I can remember, the question was HOW MUCH was I going to like it?
Billed as “for fans of Judas Priest, Accept, Helloween, Gamma Ray and Iced Earth” (I don’t know about anyone else but that would sell it straight away for me), Primal Fear were first formed in 1997 but two of Germany’s most respected metal musicians; Ralf Scheepers, former Gamma Ray vocalist and bassist/vocalist Mat Sinner.
Their first self-titled album was released in March 1997, and in the following 21 years they have released a further 11 albums, becoming one of the most beloved and respected heavy metal bands around the globe.
Their last two studio albums, “Delivering The Black” and “Rulebreaker” saw them climbing the charts and earning even more critical praise than before and with the release of their new album “Apocalypse”, they have once again raised the bar in heavy metal to even greater heights.
Produced by Mat Sinner and recorded, mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios, “Apocalypse” brings together German power metal, elements of pure thrash metal and traditional heavy metal along with some 1970’s European hard rock.
Primal Fear had kind of fallen off my radar in the last few years. Reviewing newer bands, a lot of the time meant that a lot of the older ones had been temporarily resigned to the back seat, but I was glad this one dropped in my inbox.
So, the question that needs to be asked is, did this album live up to my recollection of them from albums gone by?
Simple answer is, YES AND THEN SOME!
The album opens with the atmospheric and apocalyptic title track, with its bell tolls and choral, almost chanting, vocals before it launches you headfirst into the rest of the album, which has a severe ‘in your face’ rock and roll attitude.
The album is classic Primal Fear, the galloping riffs, the frantic double pedals that add a sense of urgency and speed and Scheepers piercing high screams. Everything that got Primal Fear noticed in the first place.
This is hard, driving speed metal at its best, but has that Teutonic power/heavy metal sound that the Germans do best.
Stand out tracks for me include “Blood, Sweat and Fear”, “Hounds of Justice” (which I am aware that some reviewers did not like! But hey, we can’t all agree on everything can we?” and “The Beast”.
“Supernova” is the albums power ballad and shows the more theatrical side of Scheepers singing and “Eye of the Storm”, although not technically what I would class as a ballad, is a slower, more melodic offering, showing just what these guys are capable of.
“King of Madness”, the album’s first single, is probably the most radio friendly and is an absolutely stunning track. I would have bought the album purely based on this one track if I hadn’t received it for reviewing purposes. It’s a great advert for an awesome album.
We all know the story that Scheepers tried out for the Judas Priest job after Rob Halford left (the gig eventually going to Tim “Ripper” Owens!) but I, for one, am glad he didn’t get the job. Just think, if Ralf had joined Judas Priest, we might never have had the pleasure of a band like Primal Fear over the past 21 years!
The more I listen to this album the better it gets. I only wish I could have made it to the gig in London on 11th October, but maybe I’ll catch them next time, where I will definitely be down the front!
King of Madness
Blood, Sweat and Fear
Hail to the Fear
Hounds of Justice
Eye of the Storm
Originally posted on Ever Metal