August 6, 2018 Primal Fear – Apocalypse (Album Review)
As the wheels of the German Power Metal machine turn, the force of Heavy Metal’s ever growing sub-genre multiplies by the minute thanks to compelling acts such as Avantasia, Powerwolf, and, the band we spotlight today, Primal Fear. Back by way of the band’s desire to continue breeding hair-raising Metal for the masses, Primal Fear return, announcing the new album, Apocalypse, will drop Friday, August 10, 2018, thanks to the hard-working crew at Frontiers Music s.r.l.
The metamorphosis of Primal Fear broke ground in 1997 when Vocalist Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray), Bassist Mat Sinner, and Guitarist Tom Naumann played in a Judas Priest cover band. Scheepers had auditioned to sing for the real Judas Priest, but the job was awarded to Ohio-based Vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens. At a bit of a crossroads, Scheepers, Sinner, and Naumann decided to form a new band, joined by Drummer Klaus Sperling, thus birthing Primal Fear.
Later that year, Primal Fear signed on the dotted line with Nuclear Blast Records and began work on the band’s first album. On February 2, 1998, Primal Fear released their eponymous debut LP, Primal Fear, one of the highest-charting debut albums in the history of German Metal, marking the prominent arrival of Primal Fear. A credit to legends, Primal Fear’s music can be compared to some of the more power-driven tracks by the Metal gods themselves, Judas Priest (“Between the Hammer & the Anvil,” “Eat Me Alive”). Lyrically, Primal Fear conjure up visions of fantasy, religion, and political ideals, leaving much to the imagination.
On the road, following the release of Primal Fear, Primal Fear toured with Swedish Metal outfit Hammerfall and later with notable acts like Halford, U.D.O. , and Helloween. Come 1999, Primal Fear, already on track to send more new music into the world, released the sophomore album Jaws of Death. Soon after, Naumann left Primal Fear due to health concerns and was replaced by Guitarist Henny Wolter. Thankfully, Naumann recovered and made his return to Primal Fear in 2002. Evolving into a success, it was Primal Fear’s fifth studio album, 2004’s Devil’s Ground, which housed the band’s biggest hit, the daunting anthem “Metal Is Forever.” Then, in 2006, Primal Fear left Nuclear Blast Records and signed to their current label, Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Going strong, Scheepers, Sinner, and Naumann are joined by Guitarist Alex Beyrodt, Guitarist/Keyboardist Magnus Karlsson, and Drummer Francesco Jovino to round out an electrifying line-up in Primal Fear. That said, the battleground for Apocalypse was staged at Hansen Studios in Ribe, Denmark, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jacob Hansen. As the follow-up to 2016’s Rulebreaker, their twelfth overall studio album, Apocalypse is yet another scathing release of explosive Power Metal turmoil from the uncompromising Primal Fear. Not to be forgotten, even the gorgeous cover art sets the stage for eleven brand new, ear-piercing tracks.
First up, the opening title track, “Apocalypse” enters via an ominous bell toll and religious-themed chant to intro the true Speed Metal frenzy of the aptly-titled “New Rise.” Sacramental, “The Ritual” makes a heavy segue for his majesty, the”King Of Madness.” In the midst of war, “Blood, Sweat, & Fear” is a blitzkrieg message to never sacrifice your own life in the face of misfortune. A black hole, the epic “Supernova” opens by way of dramatic piano and vocals for a cataclysmic ride into the void. Then, “Hail To The Fear” incorporates a nail-biting opening melody as this classic Metal rocker glorifies terror.
Keeping the order, “Hounds Of Justice” battle the positive and negative forces in the universe startling”The Beast” from hibernation; and it is not pleased. Thereafter, “Eye Of The Storm” brews via steady drums and a guitar saga as the great force turns inland into a symphonic whirlwind, prophetic like a high point in a hurricane. Placing the final nail on the Apocalypse, “Cannonball” drops Thor’s hammer, executing the finish in one shot.
A Power Metal free-for-all, Primal Fear’s Apocalypse grants the universe another stunning display of what six incredibly skillful musicians can do when coming together to create music in this bright genre. A well-oiled machine, Scheepers’ vocal capacity over Karlsson’s narrative keyboards, matched alongside the cunning guitars of Naumann and Beyrodt, are held in place by the sound rhythms of Sinner and Jovino, giving fans yet another tightly wound and powerful release from Primal Fear.
Tried and true, Primal Fear stick with the Power Metal formula which has consistently worked for the band over the years. Needless to say, Apocalypse is not the end but merely a stark continuation in Primal Fear’s thriving odyssey. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Apocalypse 4.5 out of 5 stars.