Primal Fear – “Apocalypse” CD/DVD/LP (Frontiers Music)
Germany’s answer to Judas Priest since their inception just over 2 decades ago, Primal Fear also have a strong power metal element thanks to its 2 founders, Ralf Scheepers (vocals, ex-Gamma Ray) and Mat Sinner (bass and vocals, Sinner) – the former having auditioned at one time to be Rob Halford’s replacement! Now onto their 12th album, the title doesn’t come as any surprise given its inspiration from current world events, and equally the music doesn’t hold back in its aggression and driving furore, although there’s also bunches of power melody and plenty of passion throughout the 11 tracks here. Sporting a triple axe attack since the rejoining of co-founder Tom Naumann in 2015, the sound is the heaviest its ever been and certainly adds to the weight of the material, but that said, despite its ominous title, “Apocalypse” has plenty of breath as you might expect from the quality of the veteran musicians here, so there’s quite a range of material from metal to hard rock and even ballads i.e. something for everybody. Blasting in with ‘New Rise’, the band’s fearsome power couldn’t be better exemplified with its hammering double bass drumming, chundering riffs, galloping power melodies and not in the least, Scheepers high n soulful vocals taking us into a catchy air punching chorus before the triple solo finally lays you out – oh yes, it’s that great ha ha! Contrasting it unbelievably is ‘Supernova’, with its ambient keyboard intro giving rise to flowing melodies especially from the bountiful guitars such that even Scheepers gentle screams are overpowered and naturally when the passionate solos come in, the fullness of the sound remains thanks to the other two axes. Moving into slower if more epic territory in ‘Eye Of The Storm’, Primal Fear rock away to a Zepp groove thanks to some dramatic background strings before the huge soaring chorus hits home – complete with church bells ringing in the background – in as much moving passion as electric atmosphere. Ending with the raging closer ‘Cannonball’, the title says it all with heavy riffing and even more heavy drumming contrasted barely by Scheepers wailing vocals and background screams, although not without melody even if more subtle given all the steam hammering as well as those burning neo classical solos – classic Primal Fear and a very nice way to close off this excellent release.