PRIMAL FEAR – Rulebreaker (2016)
Perhaps being the heavier act in their mostly melodic roster, Frontiers Music Srl will release the new PRIMAL FEAR studio album, “Rulebreaker“, on January 29, 2016. The effort will be made available in CD, deluxe CD/DVD and — in collaboration with Soulfood Music in Germany — on vinyl and a special super-limited vinyl edition featuring an eagle head on the vinyl.
Much as my tastes cover everything from Melodic Rock to AOR, Classic Hard Rock to Progressive Metal/ Rock, there’s a primeval thirst within that can still only be quenched by old-school Traditional Metal. The fact that I was in my early teens when the NWOBHM kicked in probably has a lot to do with that, but gut-wrenching riffs delivered with power and sophistication seem to hit the spot like nothing else can.
Judas Priest were the de-facto masters thirty-five years ago when my warped view on reality was still being formed, but in recent years that mantle has slowly but surely passed to German sabre rattlers Primal Fear.
Formed the best part of two decades ago now by bassist Mat Sinner (Sinner, MSG) and former Gamma Ray vocalist Ralf Scheepers (initially as a way of keeping the latter in the business after he lost out to Ripper Owens in the race to replace Rob Halford in Priest), Primal Fear quickly became one of the major players on the then re-emerging Metal scene, as well as the main focus for all involved.
And to be honest, they’ve pretty much been at the spearhead ever since, a string of great albums like ‘Nuclear Fire’, ‘New Religion’ and ‘Delivering The Black’ (to name but three) always keeping them one step ahead of the competition.
What I’ve always found impressive about Primal Fear (or indeed anything Sinner has been involved in over the years) is that within the basic Classic Metal framework – scything riffs, searing solos and rabble rousing vocals – they always manage to push the parameters to the limits and make their albums as diverse as possible whilst still staying true to their roots.
New album “Rulebreaker” follows exactly that same tried and tested blueprint, but once again manages to pack an almighty punch.
Fast tracks, slow tracks, epics… you want it, you got it! After a brief but beguiling intro that could easily have come from some ‘Alien’ remake, opener ‘Angels Of Mercy’ roars in astride a real Harley-Davidson of a riff that just lives and breathes the best Judas Priest years.
Lead vocalist Ralf Scheepers still screams like a banshee from hell when he needs to, and the blitzkrieg of guitars just knocks your senses into the middle of next week.
Without pausing for breath they then launch into the decidedly Accept-like ‘The End Is Near’; again, another venomous riff fest with a deliciously twisted hook.
Scheepers is where Rulebreaker truly shines. Songs like ‘Constant Heart’ and ‘Raving Mad’ showcase his outstanding vocal range. The vocals and instruments compliment each other nicely enough to overlook the simple but classic Metal lyrics. While not the most thought out, their simplicity makes for some undeniably catch tunes, like in the anthem ‘In Metal We Trust’.
At the other end of the scale, the eleven minute plus ‘We Walk Without Fear’ is a brooding classic metal masterpiece that turns into a real guitar tour-de-force, whilst the grinding ‘The Devil In Me’ (my current favorite) has a statesman-like gravitas that draws you in from the get go.
“Rulebreaker” combines the strongest Primal Fear moments ever, with a well-balanced typical Primal Fear trademark riff vibe, crushing songs and some very ambitious musical journeys.
In summary… bombastic, majestic and fantastic pure, Classic, Traditional Metal.
01. Angels Of Mercy
02. The End Is Near
03. Bullets & Tears
05. In Metal We Trust
06. We Walk Without Fear
07. At War With The World
08. The Devil In Me
09. Constant Heart
10. The Sky Is Burning
11. Raving Mad
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals
Magnus Karlsson – Guitars, Keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Tom Naumann – Guitars
Mat Sinner – Bass, Vocals
Francesco Jovino – Drums