PRIMAL FEAR – Rulebreaker

RulebreakerFirst a confession: I have never given Primal Fear the time of day. Sure, I have heard about them and I knew of them, but I have never ever given them a fair chance. Why? Well, see, since the odd tune have popped up here and there, their music to me, sounded much like the kind of German power metal that I really never understood. Apart from Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys (1987, 1988)albums and Avantasia’s records from The Scarecrow (2008) up until now, European power metal makes me crawling through my skin. Then again, I don’t label Avantasia’s music power metal anyway, to me that’s just melodic metal and hard rock. Also, the fact that their singer is one Ralph Scheepers, once in Kai Hansen’s Gamma Ray (ok, I am a fan of Gamma Ray’s debut album Heading For Tomorrow (1990) as well) and their bass player is Mat Sinner (Sinner) told me that this band was just that – a power metal unit. So I have never given a rat about this band at all which means that there are 10 records worth of music by Primal Fear that have never reached my ears. Not even the fact that Swedish guitarist and song writer Magnus Karlsson joined the band in 2008 made me interested in the band. After all, Karlsson is the guy who wrote three albums for the project Allen / Lande, albums I really, really like and he has also been involved in other projects that I really enjoy such as Place Vendome, Bob Catley and Starbreaker. So why now then? Well, the reason spells free link from record company, of course. And for some reason, when I got the link I became excited, I couldn’t listen to this record fast enough and why that is, I’m completely clueless of. So here it is, the first time I have given Primal Fear a fair chance. Let’s see what I got out of it, then.

Opener “Angel Of Mercy” breaks loose like wounded elephant in a rage. The sound is right up the alley where Judas Priest’s Painkiller (1990) lives, with a chunk of Hammerfall to mix it up with. It’s a heavy and fast song with a great melody. This was a lot better than I had expected – damn good song. Next song, “The End Is Near” is one of those fists in the air type of metal tracks and a heavy groove to go with it. Sound wise, this is a meeting between Saxon and Accept, a meeting that ended very well – I really, really like this. “Bullets And Tears” has one of those big and catchy choruses that sticks to the brain like glue, the kind that Accept are so famous for and the truth is, this tune really have a lot of Accept in it. What’s not to like about that? Great song! Best so far is the title track, a fine lined mix between straight forward hard rock and metal, the main melody is right in your face and very distinct. Perfect for the stage! The album takes a bit of a dip with “In Metal We Trust”, a song a bit too close to German power metal for my taste. Also, the lyrics are a bit too cliché for comfort – the whole “we live and die for metal” kind of deal has been done to death and frankly, it was really never cool at all. That said, the song isn’t bad, but not that great either. But “We Walk Without Fear”, a 10-minute epic metal track that holds everything from heavy metal to progressive rock and even some arrangements inspired by more gothic metal such as Nightwish and a melody with all the hooks in the world –  is really brilliant stuff. “At World With The World” brings out yet another big Accept influence and there’s no other way but to surrender to the striking melodies, the heavy riffing and the contagious chorus – another awesome track. “The Devil In Me” surprises with a melody line in the verses borrowed from Black Sabbath’s classic gem “Headless Cross” while the rest of the song goes in a more traditional Accept meets Helloween metal vein. Awesome piece of work. “Constant Heart” goes back to the Painkiller – era Priest, but it passes by a bit unnoticed. It’s a decent classic metal track, no more, no less. One of this album’s greatest moments is the monster ballad “The Sky Is Burning” with a chorus so powerful, big and catchy – but not cheesy – that it should be able to speak to music lovers outside of the metal community. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Primal Fear had a big hit with it? With “Raving Mad”, Primal Fear closes the record just as they began it, with a classic metal track, fast, hard and aggressive. This one could just as well have been the opening track and I believe it could be a great future show opener as well.

I must admit that I am surprised, I did not expect this band to this good. Since I really haven’t listened to this band before, I don’t have anything to compare this one with, but I’m silently asking myself if this is how Primal Fear have sounded since they started back in 1998 because frankly I can’t hear much at all of the thing they call power metal. Or is it me that have misunderstood the meaning of power metal? To me, this is heavy metal, the very melodic kind, but I can’t hear much musical similarities to band such as Blind Guardian, Edguy or Freedom Call, bands I clearly rate as power metal – the kind I have issues with. The sound scape is hard and aggressive, but the are melodies here are stickier than super glue, there are even times when the melodies goes pop over the metal foundation. One other thing that I really like is that the clean Michael Kiske meets Bruce Dickinson meets Rob Halford voice of Sheepers has now been given the addition of some raspiness which makes him sound more raw, still with the big range. I’m 10 albums behind when it comes to this band and I’m not sure when I will find the time to catch up, but this album is one that won’t leave my playlist in my phone anytime soon. In fact, it is on my list of “must have physical copy of”. Great stuff, this one!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Angels Of Mercy
2. The End Is Near
3. Bullets And Tears
4. Rulebreaker
5. In Metal We Trust
6. We Walk Without Fear
7. At War With The World
8. The Devil In Me
9. Constant Heart
10. The Sky Is Burning
11. Raving Mad

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