PRIMAL FEAR – Apocalypse

For a guy who was a late bloomer when it came to German Power/Heavy Metal band (ok, so they’ve got a Swede in the line-up as well) Primal Fear it feels kinda odd to get that “YES!” feeling when the news of the band’s new album was out. See, I wasn’t that keen on the band before I first heard their then brand new album Rulebreaker back in 2016. Truth be told, I hadn’t listened to them that much before that, hardly not at all – it was enough for me that they were considered a German Power Metal band to not bother with them. But Rulebreaker changed all that for me. I dug the record and decided to check their previous stuff out. So that the band released a compilation album – Best Of Fear – last year was a case of perfect timing for me. That double album, which featured a killer cover of Heart’s “If Looks Could Kill”, told me that Primal Fear had always been a damn good Metal act and that I had missed out – and then some. So from being a non-fan I now sit here with raised expectations when their brand new album is about to be reviewed.

The album opens with the title track which is just a short intro. Or “just” a short intro, fact is that this little piece builds up quite an atmosphere and is very effective. It goes straight into the real opener “New Rise”, a heavy, fast aggressive and even thrashy bullet of a song. This is Metal where Judas Priest meets Gamma Ray and the song does its best to kick your teeth in. Yes, I do like to get run over sometimes – good tune. There are more Judas Priest influences when the uptempo Metal bouncer “The Ritual” comes for a visit. It’s rough, heavy and it strikes hard. It’s a good tune but for a band that combines heaviness with distinctive hooks, the refrain could be more memorable. Leading single “King Of Madness” is an upbeat and distinct Metal track where the hooks I looked for turns up. It’s pretty straight-forward yet very heavy and it sports a very memorable main melody. The chorus captures me right away and I can see why this became the single – very good.

“Blood, Sweat And Fear” is a full-on Metal stomper that mixes their Priest-influence with Saxon-like riffs that chugs away like a wounded elephant. It’s very in-your-face, ballsy and is looking for a fight and even though I like the tune, I find the tune’s chorus not catchy enough. Good but it leaves some to be desired. With “Supernova” we bid the album’s first ballad welcome. The tune is in mid-tempo, a melodic Metal tune and to call it a Metal power ballad isn’t wrong at all. It’s orchestrated with a string section, possibly a synthesizer, but who cares. It’s distinct, fat, heavy and extremely memorable with an incredibly catchy refrain. Damn, these guys are good at this. It’s an awesome number and deserves to be a single. “Hail To The Fear” shows that Judas Priest isn’t the only influence they’ve got. This mid-tempo rocker is a tough and ballsy Metal belter that brings on quite a big Iron Maiden vibe but also Dio (the band) comes to mind. The heaviness are pivotal to the song but so is the big chorus that catches the ear immediately. Awesome!

“Hounds Of Justice”, the first taster of the album, is a riff-happy metal beast that lands somewhere between Judas Priest and Accept. It’s a blasting and heavy tune that will make cracks on your wall but it’s still very melodic with a good melody and a fat and repetitive   chorus that sticks right away – very good. “The Beast” is very heavy, darker in sound with an ominous vibe. The tune comes in a mid pace with catchy and effective melodies – I can hear U.D.O. do a song like this –  and a chorus that brings the song home. Very good. “Eye Of The Storm” takes on a groovy rhythm in a slower pace. The verses sound like a mix of Tony Martin era Black Sabbath and Pretty Maids’ heavier moments. It’s an eight minute epic track where the very catchy chorus is more Hard Rock than Metal. Easily one of the album’s finest moments. Closer “Cannonball” is fast, heavy, aggressive and wild and it sounds like they wanted the tune to sound like a cannonball. For some reason I get the feeling that this is the new live-opener. As a song, I find it ok, it’s a bit of filler rescued by a very effective refrain.

After Rulebreaker made me a fan and the brilliant compilation album made sure it wasn’t only that album I liked – and I have listened quite a lot to both for the last two years – the new album is a bit of disappointment, to be honest. Yes, I think it’s a good album but I guess I just expected more from them. Style wise, Primal Fear is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of band and they’re not a band of left-turns at all. What the fans expect, the fans get and there’s nothing wrong at all with that – if it’s not broken, then why fix it? So what you get here is well-performed, well-written and well-produced classic Heavy Metal with Power Metal influences and this lot is way too skilled to come up with any garbage so if you’re hooked on this music, I really cannot see any reason to not purchase this. For die-hard fans, this one’s a no-brainer, I guess. A good album but not a great one for me.

6/10

More Primal Fear reviews:

Rulebreaker

Tracklist:

1. Apocalypse
2. New Rise
3. The Ritual
4. King Of Madness
5. Blood, Sweat & Fear
6. Supernova
7. Hail To The Fear
8. Hounds Of Justice
9. The Beast
10. Eye Of The Storm
11. Cannonball

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