Primal Fear (Nuclear Blast) 1998
Fear" [instrumental] (:35)
This band must have spent hours listening to Judas Priest's "Painkiller" before recording their debut album. Serious speed metal with excellent vocals and hooks galore. "Speed King" is a Deep Purple cover. True metal at it's best!
Primal Fear - Jaws of Death (Nuclear Blast) 1999
1. "Jaws of Death"
Ralf Scheepers' & Matt Sinner's sophmore Primal Fear disc is more of the same riff driven speed metal with a distinct 'Painkiller' Judas Priest flare. The obvious Gamma Ray comparisons are also present, but Primal Fear have a more distinct staccato style that emulates Judas Priest more so than Helloween. (Although Gamma Ray's "No World Order" also emulates Judas Priest.) As a matter of fact, when singing in his falsetto scream, Ralf has an amazing resemblance to Rob Halford. Just check out the vocals on "Into the Future" where the vocals are doubled up. It almost sounds like Halford is singing along with Ralph. Pretty amazing. I suppose some will be put off by these comparisons. I one the other hand love their dedication to quality heavy metal and solid song craft. There are few bands still doing this kind of metal, but of those who are, Primal Fear are one of the best!
"Kill the King" is a Rainbow cover.
Primal Fear - Nuclear Fire (Nuclear Blast) 2001
1. "Angel in Black"
Disc number three for Primal Fear build upon the first two discs, adding bit more speed and aggression than before, yet retaining the Judas Priest on speed sound. Mat Sinner's production is crystal clear, yet still dirty enough to have the edge needed for this type of speed metal. Killer guitar tones that are crunchy and tight, without being fuzzy. Of course the vocals of Ralf Sheepers absolutely annihilate. Can't help but think he would have sounded great in Judas Priest hearing some of the piercing siren screams on this disc. Actually, I think this is the direction I think most Priest fans wish that Priest would have taken over the past few years. While not sounding stale, Primal Fear are still 100% heavy metal.
Primal Fear - Black Sun (Nuclear Blast) 2002
1. "Countdown to Insanity"
Yet another stellar speed metal offering from Sheepers, Sinner and Co. "Black Sun" is one heavy speed metal album. I know that most people classify Primal Fear as power metal, but in reality, this album is much faster than most power metal units. Some points ("Fear") the band is even pushing the limits of thrash metal. "Mind Machine" even evokes similarities to "Cowboys from Hell"-era Pantera. Overall, however, the sound of Black Sun is still in the heavy Judas Priest meets a speeding freight train school of heavy metal. Once again Ralf Sheepers, the hardest working voice in metal, continues to sing like no one else since Rob Halford.
Primal Fear - Devil's Ground (Nuclear Blast) 2004
In the year of our Lord, 2004, Primal Fear comes charging back with yet another heavy metal opus to bang your head to. A few things have changed since their last CD. Guitarist Henny Wolter has left the band and has been replaced by Tom Naumann. The sound and playing on this album is very close to 'Jaws of Death', which makes sense since it's the only other album with that very same guitar duo. Of course ex-Annihilator drummer is also a new addition to the band, although I honestly don't hear a huge difference in the drum sound here to past discs. The speed, intensity and manic double bass attack is there as it has always been. "Metal is Forever" is one of those "cheesy" tributes to the greatest form of music ever, heavy metal. Of course, I say cheesy, but I really like this song and actually enjoy songs of this nature. They are just fun. Sometimes I think that people have gotten so worried about having something "intelligent" to say in songs that they forget that rock 'n' roll was suppose to be fun. Another standout cut is "The Healer" with its strong acoustics and killer vocals. This song seems to have a slightly different vibe from the rest of the CD. Also, album closer "Devil's Ground" is a vocal diatribe describing the horror of hell. Perhaps something could be said for originality here. I have read a number of reviews slamming Primal Fear for "lack of originality." Yes, the vocals are similar to Rob Halford, yes the riffs are typical German power metal, and yes the drums stick to double bass for the most part. So what! I don't think it was the bands intent to explore and experiment with their sound, but rather what they wanted was to deliver another full throttle, heavy metal platter, and that is exactly what they did. Put it on, crank it up, and bang your head.
Primal Fear - Seven Seals (Scarecrow/Nuclear Blast) 2005
1. "Demons And Angels"
Primal Fear rule! That's all there is to it. With "Seven Seals" the band have taken their classic heavy metal and power metal sound to another level. Much of this has to do with a punchy production thanks to Charlie Bauerfeind. However, even the songwriting seems more focused here. Every track here is like a heavy metal steamroller, from the rippin' opening track "Demons and Angels", through the infectious "Rollercoaster", to the heavy title track, to the epic “Diabolus”, right on through to the emotional ballad "In Memory" that finishes the album off. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers is in top form here. He is often compared to Rob Halford, although I think he most certainly has his own style and charimsa. However, at times on "In Memory" I would have sworn that Halford's mighty pipes were behind the song. "A Question Of Honour" is a Sinner cover, which is only appropriate since Matt Sinner is a longtime, founding member of the band. The new version is quite good and Sheepers puts his own unique seal on the Sinner classic. With "Seven Seals" Primal Fear prove that they are one of Germany's finest heavy metal exports. Indeed, Primal Fear rule!
1. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (:48)
2. Riding The Eagle (4:58)
3. Six Times Dead (16.6) (3:59)
4. Black Rain (6:07)
5. Under The Radar (5:26)
6. 5.0 / Torn (7:13)
7. Soar (4:16)
8. Killbound (4:13)
9. No Smoke Without Fire (4:52)
10. Night After Night (5:01)
11. Smith & Wesson (4:45)
12. The Exorcist (4:47)
13. Hands Of Time (4:21)
14. Cry Havoc (4:00)
15. Scream (4:38)
Primal Fear are simply one of the leaders of the contemporary power metal scene from Germany. Nearly everything that Scheepers, Sinner & Co. have released since their debut has been generally held in high regard. I think what I like best about Primal Fear is that they are the perfect blend of power, speed, and traditional heavy metal. It's not all fluffy, keyboard laced, dungeons and dragons flower metal. The band has always stuck to their musical guns, continuing to crank out Judas Priest-inspired heavy metal, though they have begun to add in some progressive touches in later releases such as "Seven Seals" and "New Religion". It's not surprising that "16.6" continues down similar paths musically.
Much like their heroes Judas Priest, Primal Fear are not one to release an album that all sounds the same. On "16.6" the band gives a bit of variety including a melodic ballad titled "Hands Of Time" and a heavy, modern metal number titled "Soar". There are some crushing riffs on this album such as those on "Killbound" and the mid-paced metal romp "Six Times Dead". "Six Times Dead" musically reminds me of classic Accept. As with any good traditional heavy metal album, dual guitars are essential, as those heard in "Riding the Eagle". Of course the most essential element to the Primal Fear sound is the vocals of Ralf Sheepers, which are in fine form here. Basically, "16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) " is another fine slab of metal from Primal Fear.
It's also important to mention that Primal Fear's line-up now includes Magnus Karlsson, the man behind projects such as Allen/Lande, Starbreaker and Last Tribe.