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The second part in the catalogue of the Gods of generic metal is entitled Jaws of Death. This is a step backwards and forward for the band at the same time. The songwriting in itself is far more original and creative than on the self-titled debut (though they’re still ridiculously generic, but that’s part of their charm), with some pretty varied ideas here and there.
The bizarre opening melody and chorus line of Into The Future mixed with the crushingly heavy riffwork and double bass on the verses makes for a pretty interesting tune. Then we have Under Your Spell, which I’d classify as a ballad, though it definitely moves into heavy territory at times, with some nice riffs in the instantly recognizable Primal Fear style. Their riffs may be very cliché and give a certain “I’ve heard this before”-vibe, but you can recognize them very easy, and not only thanks to the distinctive ripping guitar tone they us on pretty much all their albums.
Nation In Fear and Fight To Survive also has some interesting moods and feelings that move away from the safe territory they stayed within on the debut. But are all these changes for the better? I guess so, since they couldn’t have just gone on making the same song over and over. But they haven’t really mastered the experimentation in the songwriting on here yet, so some parts of several songs come off as quite forced and not too well thought-out. Into The Future again – the previously mentioned bizarre opening melody and chorus line is interesting, but at the same time, it doesn’t quite work. However, most songs on here are still pretty good, and it’s a rather consistent album once again.
Some songs that stand out would be Church of Blood, with the groovy bass-highlighted verses (they have to do one of those songs on each album, and those always turn out damn good) and one fucking killer main riff. Headbang!
Previously mentioned Nation In Fear is also very good- the melodic, powerful chorus is extremely well done, and is just what makes this band so much fun.
“Nation in fear! Why are we fighting? Nation in fear! The world in the eyes of a child!” Cheesy as hell, but a total blast to sing along to. And so is the shouted “One nation! One nation!” part right after the chorus. More killer riffs are to be found here as well.
Fight To Survive has another brilliant chorus line that sticks to your mind, and an overall great vocal performance by Ralf Scheepers, who keeps impressing with his completely over the top vocal style.
The best song on here, however, and where Ralf shines the most- that’s easily the opener (after the dumb chorus), Final Embrace. The insanely powerful feeling the song gives off is something Primal Fear specializes in; they know just how to give you just that feeling. The way the riff starts subtle and builds up in intensity halfway through the verses is extremely well done, but Ralf is the highlight of the song, and he really makes it what it is, with a vocal performance filled with emotion and power. He may be completely over the top, he may overuse the falsetto, and he may be a Halford clone- but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have the balls of molten steel combined with a lethal emotional touch to make up for all that.
Other songs worth mentioning are Play To Kill (catchy as hell, and another nice, heavy riff) and When The Night Comes, which has a striking sense of atmosphere and groove.
When it comes down to it, this is definitely below Primal Fear’s debut album, but there’s some very good material. And the songwriting in itself took a step forward, they just hadn’t gotten down the skill yet – however, they certainly did in the next album.
Another noticeable change they made with this one is that the riffs are in general far heavier. Just look at songs such as Church of Blood, Into The Future and Play To Kill and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Pretty fun and enjoyable stuff, although at times I miss the melody-madness of the debut. But still, a very strong album here- if you enjoyed the first, then you should pick this one up as well..