Primal Fear, formed in 1997, are at the forefront of German Metal, and they’re a household name in the Metal genre in general. Their latest album, “Apocalypse” (released August 10th on Frontiers Music) sets a high standard for fresh, gritty speed metal.
Apocalypse has an authentic, classic speed metal sound. There’s a real Judas Priest feel throughout, emphasized by singer Ralf Scheepers’ (formerly of Gamma Ray) high-pitched, soaring vocals. I really enjoyed the style and I appreciated the albums uncompromising commitment to pure, in your face metal.
“Apocalypse”, the titular and opening track, is a spooky, atmospheric intro song. It opens with ominous sounding bells being rung, accompanied by choir-like vocals. It eventually builds to a menacing, striking guitar lick. It lays a good foundation for the rest of the album and does a good job of easing you in, rather than just starting in the fast lane.
“New Rise” on the other hand, starts very much in the fast lane. Hammering drums, squealing guitars and epic soaring vocals. It’s pure speed metal. I really loved the interlude towards the end of the song, the rhythm changes and the choir vocals come back, it keeps the song interesting.
“The Ritual” and “King of Madness” are good head bobbing tracks. They establish and maintain an energy that’s really important to Primal Fear’s sound. The latter introduces a little more groove to the sound, while the former shows off the impressive guitar chops of Tom Naumann and Alex Beyrodt through intricate solo’s and chuncky, speedy riffs. Vocals remain powerful throughout.
“Blood Sweat & Fear” opens with a fat, fierce sounding intro riff. It’s got a down and dirty feel to it, edgey and sharp, rough around the edges. The drums really stand out on this one, every hit smacks like a battering ram. There’s also a hooky chorus and a slick solo.
“Supernova” drops the energy down and showcases another side the album. It’s a nice change of pace and shows that Primal Fear are anything but a one trick pony. It’s a refreshing change of pace and it doesn’t feel like just a random ballad-style song that a lot of metal bands throw into the middle of an album to show their ‘range’. I really loved the guitar sound, it’s really bright and it shines in this environment. There’s also a slower, not quite bluesy solo that’s a nice change from just shredding all the time (though there’s still plenty of shredding to be found).
“Hail To The Fear” picks up the energy again, without going straight back to top gear. It gradually lifts the album back up, in a natural way that’s more pleasing to the ear. It’s a sinister sounding foot-stomper and I really liked it.
“Hounds of Justice” and “The Beast” bring back the energy from the start of the album to the fullest effect. I didn’t find either track to be spectacular but I enjoyed both. The former has a cool lo-fi intro and an exceptionally melodic chorus. The former features rumbling
drums and high pitched guitar licks. I quite liked the experimentation with the vocals. “You woke up the Beast” being chanted in a deep, menacing style is simple but effective.
“Eye of the Storm” is an epic, flowing song stretching to 8 minutes in length. It travels through a range of different styles. From classic metal to epic, expanding instrumentals, to almost orchestral sections. This song is a journey, and one worth taking.
“Cannonball” returns to the pure metal that Primal Fear are known for. No frills, what you see is what you get metal, it hits you across the face like a, well, cannonball. It’s the perfect closer for this kind of album.
In general, “Apocalypse” is a very good album. I found it to be similar to bands like Judas Priest and Fozzy (obscure pull, but accurate) as well as being quite Maideny at times. The energy is great, the overall sound is fantastic. Sure, some of the songs aren’t amazing, but I really struggle to find too much at fault with this album.
2. New Rise
3. The Ritual
4. King Of Madness
5. Blood, Sweat, & Fear
7. Hail To The Fear
8. Hounds Of Justice
9. The Beast
10. Eye Of The Storm
Review By Josh Farrell