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Primal Fear had never really been able to convince me and to attract me more than any other European power metal band. I always thought that they sounded too much like Judas Priest and had not a quite unique style. Well, when I tried out their album New Religion I realized that there are still a lot of influences from Judas Priest and also Kamelot or Gamma Ray but it's less than I thought and I must admit that I was maybe wrong and that the band actually has its own style. I don't know when they exactly established this but they are technically spoken one of the most interesting, diversified and also progressive bands of their guild and this without overlong tracks with guitar solos. They focus on heavier riffs and several diversified tracks with epic passages instead of putting all of their ideas into one song as many bands of their kind happen to do. What really make this band stand out are the vocals of Ralf Scheepers that are surely not mainstream and suitable for any power metal maniac. He varies a lot from smooth and epic passages over heavy and grounded vocals too high screams and reminds me a lot of Tim "Ripper" Owens for that. They don't copy each other and still have their distinctive different qualities but I appreciate their voices a lot as they are both influenced by Rob Halford but quite outstanding apart of that fact.
The opener "Sign Of Fear" that we have here seems to be a great up-tempo Judas Priest hymn that this band simply didn't create anymore since "Painkiller". One could say that Primal Fear have taken the place and heritage of the band because their first eponymous record came out one year after the last interesting Judas Priest record which was the dark "Jugulator".
It's an enjoyable fact that Primal Fear chose a different path though. The opener is the only Judas Priest worship track on the record and that's why it fits and why this band has reached out for its own identity. Already the strong "Face The Emptiness" convinces with gripping and diversified vocals that don't sound like Rob Halford. I must also mention the wonderful title track "New Religion" where Ralf Scheepers reaches his magic moment of the album and does a vocal performance of the grandest kind that gives me goose bumps.
It takes some time before the instrumental section catches up with the amazing performance of the singer and the first impressive parts from that point of view come along with the diversified and epic "Fighting The Darkness" trilogy. It's a great thing that the band decided to divide this epic track into three parts on their release because the songs work also pretty much on their own and especially the first part is an epic heavy metal hymn. When I said that the instrumental section begins to vary more and more, I must point out tracks like the slightly experimental opening of "Psycho" or the wonderful combination of electric guitar solos and acoustic guitar passages in the album closer "The Man (That I Don't Know)".
Let's say that this band sounds way more like a traditional heavy or speed metal band with some epic influences in tracks like "Sign Of Fear", "Fighting The Darkness" or "The Curse Of Sharon". When they decide to sound like a power metal band, they always have a somewhat American feeling in their sound rather than a European one. Even in their smoothest moments, I would rather compare them to Kamelot, especially as both happen to work together with Epica singer Simone Simons. The ballad "Everytime It Rains" is though a rather commercial track for a larger audience and could have been a little radio hit single. It's a catchy song but nevertheless one of the weakest here.
In the end, we have a really strong mixture of traditional heavy metal with some epic power metal influences on this record. This is the perfect band for anybody that thinks European power metal bands such as Edguy or Rhapsody Of Fire sound too cheesy, joyful and epic but who doesn't want to listen to straighter American old school stuff like Metal Church or Iced Earth neither. This album is the perfect compromise between heavy metal, speed metal and power metal and still sounds overall seen like nothing I have heard before. That's why this album is somewhat exciting and powerful and a part of that vary entertaining. Not every track is a killer on here but the quality is so high that this doesn't disturb my final verdict by much. The band finally convinced with this album and I will have a closer look at their discography now.
Those German Metal Commandos are back with a new CD entitled ‘New Religion’. This new release is Primal Fear’s 7th since spanning back from their debut in 1998, and their first with Frontiers Records. Off the huge success which was ‘Seven Seals’, would ‘New Religion’ be as good, better or not so good as their previous CD?
After much anticipated spins of ‘New Religion’, I must say that it is not as good as ‘Seven Seals’, although it remains a solid effort from Primal Fear. Being a huge fan of this band, I really did not want this release to be a disappointment, but unfortunately in some areas, ‘New Religion’ falls short on what we normally expect from this band. I feel that some of the songs are not up to Primal Fear calibre and that there hasn’t been as much effort as with previous songs, but on the flip side Primal Fear have also changed their style and tempo on some of the songs on the new CD. The majority of songs from ‘New Religion’, lyrics wise, seem like a “personal journey” for the band. Quite emotional lyrics, and there are a few more slower songs here than on other CDs.
I wouldn’t say that this new release has been rushed, but some songs do give that indication. Primal Fear have experimented with their sound on ‘New Religion’, particularly using more keyboards and noticeable song structure changes. Guitarist Tom Naumann did not play on this release and has seemed to have left the band. So his replacement is old Primal Fear guitarist, Henny Wolter. Wolter played with Primal Fear on their ‘Nuclear Fire’ and ‘Black Sun’ CDs before Naumann returned for his 2nd stint with the band. Wolter has started just where he left off, belting out some ripping solos throughout the CD, coinciding, of course, with Primal Fear’s other guitarist Stefan Leibing.
“Sign of Fear” begins the new CD, where we hear the typical Primal Fear riffs and fast drumming. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers breaks out the high notes during the verses, a la Rob Halford, and the song is quite reminiscent of 80s-90s era Judas Priest. “Face The Emptiness” is another typical Primal Fear track, but with an extra dose of keyboards. The song has an early Primal Fear feel to it, but overall it doesn’t register as a top song on the CD. “Every Time It Rains” is a decent power ballad which is also a duet with Epica’s vocalist, Simone Simons. As power ballads go, this one is really terrific and has a very catchy chorus. Simone Simons sings very well, as does Ralf.
The title track kicks in next and again we are treated with yet another typical Primal Fear track. This one does lift the intensity a few notches and the CD’s quality is on the rise. Next up is one of the best tracks on the CD, with the song entitled “Fighting The Darkness”. Here is another power ballad with one of the most catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a while. Although being a slow power ballad, Primal Fear stretch this track to just under 9 minutes. This is due to an instrumental piece in the middle of the song, which goes for around 4 minutes. The song is emotional, personal and very well done. “Blood On Your Hands” is another riff-filled track, which again feels like early Primal Fear and would have fit perfectly on ‘Jaws of Death’. Ralf really belts this track out very well and it also contains a nice solo.
It is here where the CD dips somewhat, with the next 2 tracks being rather average for Primal Fear’s standard. After those 2 disappointing songs, the CD picks up greatly with the next track, entitled “Psycho”. This track is easily the best on the CD and is very reminiscent of “Running in the Dust”; a classic Primal Fear song from their debut. “World On Fire” is another speedy track which has typical Primal Fear written all over it and another song to remember.
Overall, when you balance up everything that is served to you on “New Religion”, I still come to the conclusion that it is not up to par with their previous few releases, especially song-wise. Still, Primal Fear are one of the best power metal bands going round and even a decent Primal Fear release is still a solid release. There are a few outstanding and memorable songs, but the rest do fall short a tad. Primal Fear fans will still purchase this CD blindly, but for the others I recommend that you hear it before you buy.
Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com
There’s a tinge of irony, or perhaps a bit of unexpected honesty in selecting a title like “New Religion” for this album. One might think that the core of Primal Fear’s old guard, speed metal loving audience have been witness to a horrid heresy flying in the face of their beloved creeds, given the heavily negative reaction that it received in many quarters. However, the truth of the matter is that all bands will eventually drift a bit in their search to keep their sound fresh and explore their style a bit, and the changes that have come here are not radically abrupt, but a logical outcome of 2 albums of evolution away from the mostly dogmatic adherence to late 80s Judas Priest that were their early days.
In essence, this is a somewhat further development of the modernized character of “Seven Seals” where the overall atmosphere is a little darker and more somber. Keyboards play a varying role, but this time have moved a little further in the direction of an Industrial aesthetic, but thankfully not the wildly dominant one that seeped into Nocturnal Rites confused little studio offering “The 8th Sin”, which closely coincided with this album. There is a greater plurality of ballads and a slightly stronger tendency towards longer, epic songwriting, but the overall listen is still solidly entrenched in the speed metal zone, though perhaps taking on an aura more comparable to that of Seven Witches rather than the vintage “Painkiller” sound of “Nuclear Fire” and “Black Sun”.
It is probably not fair to bring up continual comparisons to Nocturnal Rites, but in spite of the sizable differences in the histories of the two bands, where they’ve ended up here is a primary example of the right vs. the wrong way to modernize this style. Rather than ruining a tried and true formula of fist pumping riff dominated Metal with a half-hearted attempt at equally straddling the new gothic/industrial craze, Primal Fear have incorporated these newer devices in sort of a gimmicky way, showcasing a few key points of variance and keeping the main course otherwise fully intact. A good example of this occurs in the title song “New Religion”, where a few synthesizer sections bearing a little similarity to Lacuna Coil sort of come and go, acting more like a pleasant window dressing to a solid stain glass work of vintage Priest worship.
Interestingly enough, where the aforementioned younger Speed/Power Metal outfit suffered on “The 8th Sin”, Mat Sinner and company have excelled. Sure, there are plenty of helpings of classic high tempo goodness in “Face Of Emptiness”, “Blood On Your Hands” and “Too Much Time” that rival the best moments on “Devil’s Ground”, and “World On Fire” is among the catchiest fits of melodic glory this band has conceived of, but where this album really stands out is the ballad work. “The Man (That I Don’t Know)” takes sort of a melancholy remembrance route, droning out dark riffs that mesh a Judas Priest aesthetic with a Candlemass texturing, and here Ralf really steals the show by invoking both Halford and Messiah at various points perfectly. The controversial duet with Simone Simons dubbed “Every Time It Rains” is stylistically the biggest divergence for this outfit, going a bit into newer Within Temptation and Evanescence territory with some of the percussive and ambient effects, but the overall feel of the song is still conducive to a metallic mode of balladry, and the contrast between Ralf’s warlock-like howls and Simone’s angelic opera sounds makes for a very original experience.
The top pick of this album, and arguably the creative peak of Primal Fear’s career, lay in the 8 minute plus, 3 part epic “Fighting The Darkness”. Although “Nuclear Fire” will remain my favorite release out of their catalog, this song outclasses any other song heard from them up to this point. Comparisons might be made to Metalium’s “Illuminated” off the “As One” album with the recurring principle themes and the gradual yet spellbinding variations surrounding them, and perhaps also to Gamma Ray’s “Lake Of Tears”. However, the faster and more complex middle section, littered with melodic lead guitar lines and tasteful synthesizer work, listens like a modern homage to “Heaven And Hell”. One might chalk it up to my own sense of nostalgia at the loss of one of the founding fathers of this art form, but even before the passing of Ronnie Dio, I could still hear bits and pieces of his work with both Tony Iommi and Vivian Campbell in this song. But despite it being a sort of bittersweet acknowledgment of his universal impact on the Metal scene, every great song tends to bring out the subjective emotions of each individual.
In spite of this album being universally trashed by most of the band’s core fan base, “New Religion” is a cut above several of their earlier works, though as a whole not quite the magical display of apocalyptic angst that “Nuclear Fire” was. There’s some mild gothic/industrial detailing her and there, but the end result is fairly comparable to the mild changes that Iron Maiden went through when they transitioned out of the “Piece Of Mind” and “Powerslave” era into that of “Somewhere In Time”, and its quality in comparison to former albums also mirrors that of Maiden’s later 80s efforts. Change isn’t always a bad thing, provided that it doesn’t completely destroy precedence completely or abandon the paradigm that keeps metal distinct from all the other stuff out there.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 19, 2010.
It's taken me a while to decide how I feel about this one, the seventh album from stalwarts Primal Fear. At first blush I thought this album was pretty crappy, but with some more spins I don't think it's that bad, it's just not really a Primal Fear album. See, Matt Sinner seems to be obsessed with getting away from the Priest worship of their old days and become something else. The problem is, Priest worship was pretty much their whole deal: it's what they're good at, it's what their fans want, it's what's worked for them up until now. So why change it? Seven Seals was the first try at this 'new' PF sound, which pretty much consisted of sucking. New Religion is round two, and it's not much better.
The problem here is that even the 'good' songs are not that great. Opener "Sign Of Fear" is strictly so-so, and while "Face The Emptiness" is better, it's still kind of weak. The real WTF doesn't hit until track three, and "Everytime It Rains", which is an amazing song - it's just a goth-metal song heavy on the keys and with beautiful backup vocals from Epica's Simone Simons (ye gods her lovely tone, Nightwish missed out when they didn't recruit her. Fools, fools.) It's a great tune, but it is so out of left field on a Primal Fear album.
The title track is, by a whisker, the second-worst song on here. It starts out with decent riffing, but the chorus sucks so bad I can't even listen to it. "Fighting The Darkness" is a solid power ballad, and it's one of the better songs on here, but it really drags on too long at almost nine minutes. Another good one is "Blood On Your Hands", which has a catchy chorus, even if it sounds a little nu-metallish. "The Curse of Sharon"? What? Let's just move on. "Too Much Time" is pretty faceless, even if it has some good riffs, you won't remember it later. "Psycho" is probably the worst song Primal Fear have ever recorded. With dumb-chunk mallcore riffs and a chorus that consists of (literally) Ralf screaming "Psyychooooooooo!" and then pseudo-growling "Psycho millionairreeeee" about forty times in a row. With crappy vocal effects.
Speaking of vocal effects, the real crime of this album is that Ralf sounds killer, and for once they didn't quadruple-track his vocals so you can actually hear the man sing. I can only imagine how cool that would be if he was singing something good. Some people are saying he sounds 'weak', but that's because they are such idiots they can't tell a real, live human voice when they hear one, they're so accustomed to ProTools mashed overproduced crap.
It's just too painful. There are some good songs on here, but even those seem to lack the PF spark. Ralph sounds good, but he has almost nothing good to work with. The sad thing is that the best song on here is the entirely atypical "Everytime It Rains", which if it had appeared as a bonus track on an Epica CD wouldn't raise an eyebrow; but on a Primal Fear album it sticks out like Al Sharpton at a Graveland show. Even the best tunes on here won't stand up to Primal Fear standards like "Lightyears From Home" or "Angel In Black". I mean, put on "Nuclear Fire" and then this one...there's just no comparison. I don't know what Matt Sinner is trying to do, but I wish he'd knock it off.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
...and I don't even mean it in an immediately-insulting sense.
I'll come up front: like the review title suggests this latest effort from Germany's spirited but ever-unoriginal Primal Fear is a sellout. I mean this in the most literal way possible: this music is processed, streamlined for mass appeal and with a focus on hooks over the driving riffs of their back catalogue. Take Every Time It Rains, featuring Simone Simmons: this is the kind of thing that you'd expect to hear on rock radio after Evanescence's Bring Me To Life.
With that said and with a mind to point out the good that Primal Fear's new offering brings, there's plenty of catchy sections on New Religion: The chorus lines of Fighting The Darkness, Face The Emptiness, the aforementioned Every Time It Rains and The Man (That I Don't Know) are all fairly hooky. It's the kind of thing that I can fall back on when I'm just in the mood to hear uncomplicated, catchy melodies. Because it's clear that this music was written in the pop mindset at heart, it's decent in that regard. This album passes on the 1-100 scale because I can't fairly evaluate it as a metal record, but as a rock album.
That said, I must ask, what the hell were they thinking? Here's a band that's built up a fanbase through years of churning out the same brand of heavy, driving Priest-derivative metal music, and now they completely forget who they're writing for. I wasn't much of a Primal Fear fan until 2005's excellent Seven Seals, with its greater balance of melody, power, longevity and tasteful usage of keys, I took as a sign of musical evolution within Mat Sinner's group. Stylistically when put into perspective with the band's discography, New Religion is just strange and misguided. Other than a few spots that throw back to the Primal Fear of old (Blood On Your Hands and a few quality solos on the album), the whole thing is very vocally-driven, with the rest of the band - yes, even Mat, with a new take of start-stop riffing during certain verses - seeming content to play the support role. When the band does start out on heavy riffing, it seems a pale shadow of the effective guitarwork on earlier albums, merely as a reminder of what once was.
The production is great, though. No complaints there. It's so slickly polished that you can see your own face in it. The vocal work deserves to be top-notch considering it's been placed as the focal point on this release, but unfortunately Scheepers' pipes aren't what they used to be. They're competent, certainly, but there are points on the album where he just sounds tired.
The lyrics. Oh, the lyrics. I had thought the "your life is just a piece of crap!" line from Seven Seals' Carniwar was pushing it, but they dared to push it over the brink on this album with the worst lyric I've ever heard - ever. Reader, meet "Your life will turn to doo!"...right. Just had to put that out there.
Evaluating this as a poppy rock/hard rock album with metal elements on some songs, it's not bad. It accomplishes what I presume it sets out to do: deliver a fairly easy-listening experience (Well, easy listening for those of us who are by far used to heavy riffs and piercing falsetto screams beating down our eardrums) that's catchy and poppy. Those two elements don't immediately count against an album, nor do they count for it. You'd best make your own judgment. I like this release on a personal level - I just find it difficult to respect it, as it represents a thinning of creative juices within the Primal Fear camp. I expect that time will judge it next to the Chameleons and the Risks of the metal scene.
Alright, I had 20$ to spend and decided to spend them on the new Primal Fear album. This album is my first Primal Fear album ever! I've heard a couple of their older songs in the past, but that's it, so I don't really know much about their sound and all of that, so this review is definitly not a fanboy review and I won't compare this album with their other albums since I have never heard them.
I've listenned to the album twice and I think its pretty good! Ok, its nothing spectacular, its nothing new and its far from original musically, but its still pretty enjoyable if you don't mind unoriginality! If their other albums contain fast songs similar to the fast songs from this album then I'm not really interested in getting any of their other albums though because the best songs on this album are actually the ballads and I heard that its the first time they make ballads of that kind! The fast songs are not bad at all, but they are just not very original and they simply sound like unoriginal Priest-wannabe songs, so I don't think I'll be missing much if I don't get any of Primal Fear's other albums because I heard that most of their songs sound like that!
Anyway, like I said, the album is not very original musically, most of the riffs sound like they were taken from the Painkiller album and the vocals sometimes sound a lot like Rob Halford's vocals, but some songs, the ones that don't sound too much like Priest are pretty good! My favourite song on the album is 'Fighting The Darkness'! Its very catchy, it doesnt sounds like a Priest song, the chorus is very good and it actually does sounds a bit original compared to the other songs. Its not very heavy, but who cares? Its very good! My second favourite song is 'Face the Emptiness' which is pretty heavy, but also pretty melodic, the chorus is catchy and its also pretty atmospheric which is a great thing! I wouldnt say there's any bad song on the album, but some like 'Psycho' and 'The Curse Of Sharon' are pretty weak, uninspired and unoriginal... Every riffs in 'Psycho' sound like they were made before and the chorus is pretty poor... Its not bad, but its nothing special at all... As for 'The Curse Of Sharon', there are some good melodies to be found there, but like 'Psycho', its too unoriginal... The biggest low point about the album is that some songs have like one very good riff and the rest is all pretty forgettable... For exemple, the chorus in 'Too Much Time' is pretty good, but the verses are pretty boring... Still... Overall a pretty good album. Funny thing is that I actually can't stand unoriginality, but I still like this album... In fact, I don't think there's more than 2 riffs on this album that weren't done before, but oh well...
I'm not sure I can recommend New Religion to every metal fans... I think I can only recommend this album to metal fans who don't mind unoriginality and who don't go nuts when a metal band make ballads because like I said, the best songs on the album are probably the least heavy ones.
Best songs: Fighting The Darkness, Everytime It Rains, Face The Emptiness, World On Fire and Sign Of Fear.
Primal Fear has for many years now carried the German heavy metal flag forward, always releasing solid albums that has been good but never really reached for ‘very good’. They did change that a bit with last album “Seven Seals” though, it showed a little bit more variated side of the band and it’s the best album PF has done so far. They wanted it to be ‘big sounding’ and epic. While they didn’t succeed all the way, it was at least more epic than their albums before. But they were somewhat right, and the album showed a little bit more mature direction, and the music and songs was just better. I don’t know if they wanted “New Religion” to be a further step in the same direction as SS or not, but if it was their intention they really failed with their mission.
What is the most obvious direction with this album is the fact that Primal Fear has developed from a heavy heavy metal band, into a happy flower power band, like many other bands nowadays. A more mainstream, almost poppish approach on nearly all songs, I mean there’s no chorus on here that doesn’t awake the feeling “oh hell, now I’ll turn this shit off”. PF has done some seriously awesome choruses through the years, but here, sorry guys all of them sucks. And the song “Everytime It Rains” is the worst of them all. Complete garbage! I know that deep inside, this is something PF never wanted to do, I can’t believe when i’m hearing it that a heavy metal icon like Mat Sinner wants to have such a song on any of his albums. Because this song IS completely, yeah 100% pop. Don’t come and argue with anything else!
And the second thing, which is equally disappointing is the used-to-be-a-scream-monster Ralf Scheeper. What has happened with the dude? Where is the Ralf we all know? He already started to sound weird on “Sevel Seals”, but that was on only some songs, here it’s almost everywhere. His voice doesn’t sound as sharp and ripping at all as before. In some passages I really can hear the old and great Ralf, or when he at least tries to (chorus of “Psycho”, end of “Blood on your hands”, verses of “Sign of Fear) but it never is the same thing as on example “Back From Hell” or “Sea Of Flames”. And it’s not only his screaming that sounds weaker, when he sings normal he doesn’t sound like before. I have hard to believe that he can’t scream and sing like he used to, it’s only that he’s told or, of course, wants to sing this way himself. Randy Black said on PF’s homepage that “Ralf seems to outdo himself” with each new album. Not a chance, I’d say. Ralf is one of the best singers on earth, but not when he’s sounding like he does on this album.
Another thing is the usage of keyboards and lack of good guitar solos. Keyboards and poppy music within ‘metal’ seems to be more audible every year that passes. A lot of bands that never used keyboards have started to use them, and way too much. It’s just on some of the songs on here, but I still think that is ‘some songs’ too much, you know? Guitar solos is something PF always has been doing great, following lead parts that sounds like Judas Priest’s on the good old albums, twin leads, long leads blasting out to space. Not much can be found on “New Religion”. Often sounding really uninspired and rushed, and too short everytime. Maybe they wasn’t focused enough while writing them, or they’re just simply out of ideas. The songs “New Religion” has a nice solo, but it’s cut as soon as you’ve heard it. “Fighting The Darkness” has a nice solo at 2:18, but it’s even shorter. The instrumental “The Darkness” has a great solo at 2:27, and it lasts a little bit longer, but not much. One really misses the long leads that could one for a long time with the old PF-albums. Stefan Leibing’s finger were on fire then, it’s not really like that here. This is a clear thing the band can improve to the next album, because I know they can.
I’ve now cleared the main downfalls with the album, and while it’s not many things that are positive, they do exist though. 2 good songs can be found. “Sign of Fear” is a heavy one, with Ralf’s best performance on the album. Really awesome intro with pounding drums and a quite heavy passage after. “Blood On Your Hands” is a classic heavy PF-song, the chorus is quite stupid, but compared with other choruses on the album it stands quite tall. In the middle the song opens a thrashy and heaviest passage on the whole album. This is it! It really shows what it is Primal Fear does best. Awesome riffs.The other great thing I see is the man behind the drums, Randy Black, the strongest link in the band at the moment. He’s being quite laid back and sometimes too much simple stuff, as always when drumming in PF, but still he makes the songs a little bit better and some awesome fills can be found here and there. I hope he will be allowed to show even more skills on the next album, and that he won’t leave the band.
This few positive things can’t help the album much though, since there’s much more minuses. PF has done exactly the same as Nocturnal Rites this year: going so low that I never thought they would. I really hope though that this is just a bad escapade, a “middle album” that will be forgotten and that the band will strike back with a much better album next time. For that, they must NOT develop this direction shown on “New Religion” even further, instead they must think on what they’re best on: solid German heavy metal. I really recommend you to avoid this album, ‘cause this new Primal Fear CD is, sad but true, their absolutely weakest album so far.
Finally, a new PF release. And it's not up to the expectations, or at least mine. The fact that Simmons from Epicrap is doing vocals in one song should be a sign of the direction the band has taken.
Seven Seals was a necessary departure from the Priest-worship that the band had done in their previous 5 albums and this album continues that path. It doesn't sound like Priest at all, but here you won't find most of the things that made Seven Seals so good.
Let me get through the several weak points that I find:
1. The music is happier (at times). Not necessarily a bad thing in power metal, but it doesn't work for PF, mainly because of Ralf's vocal style which leads me to...
2. Ralf's vocals are getting weaker with every release. Not only is he forced to multi-track his delivery almost always (that isn't new anyway) but his attack is not as sharp as before, the vocals seem very forced this time. It looks like he couldn't do it on his own without reeeeally pushing his vocal chords. For a perfect example, you need to look no more than a minute into the album - his first appeareance and he is already weak. I think he should just relax and settle down with his mid and low ranges, which I find powerful (when he uses them, which is very rarely).
3. The guitar tone. Since the debut album, the band has been known for a strong, sharp and heavy guitar tone, but here you will inmediately notice that it has been flattened and cut, going in a Kamelot-like direction. Let me sort it out, this is NOT a Kamelot-worship album but it has some small signs that the band is going in that direction, especially when talking about the guitar tone and also about...
4. The riffs. Very much in agreement with their Priest ascendancy, the band has always produced some strong riffs that original or not, kicked serious ass. Here there are NO riffs of that style, and the guitar is sort of there, without doing anything interesting. Most of the time it is doing pure background noise (Everytime it rains, whose verses could pass as an Evanescence song...), doing start-stop bullshit (verses of Fighting the Darkness) or even nu-fecal shit!!! (Psycho being the only example, luckily. Here you have an excellent chance to witness the shitty tone and mallcore-like riff). This is a major concern, as one of the main features of the 'classical PF sound' is gone. In exchange, we get lots of pseudo-riffs (intro to Blood on your hands), but note that with an appropiate tuning and re-arrangement of the tone, these pseudo-riffs would become killer metal riffs like the ones from previous albums. Speaking of the tuning...
5. The down-tuning. Not necessarily a bad thing, just like the first point, but something that you have to be very careful with. Seven Seals used standard D tuning as do some other bands that use it very well (for example Dream Evil, Firewind) and achieved a very heavy sound through down-tuning. But to achieve this you ought to have the perfect guitar tone, which this album doesn't. Therefore, the down-tuning becomes a problem.
6. Lack of leads. And I mean, good leads. All lead playing is average, not what I expect from PF, you can take that for sure. Totally unmemorable, it seems they added them just because you are supposed to have solos.
7. Inconsistency. The first song is quite happy, the second and third are rather sad. No. 4 is happy, no. 5 is sad. You get what I mean, right? It is ok to do some mood changes, but please re-arrange the tracklisting in order to create a better flow between one song and the next throughout the whole album.
8. Inconsistency (II). Huh? Let me explain: this time I'm talking about songwriting inconsistency. Fighting the Darkness and Everytime it Rains can be considered gothic metal, Sign of Fear and The Curse of Sharon are straight-up happy power metal, Too Much Time is a throwback to the extremely goofy, early Gamma Ray days (of which Scheepers was part of, the coincidence!!). Resuming: there is little consistency regarding a style. I notice that the band has an established sound but is also trying to change it towards a more gothic style.
9. Filler tracks. There has always been an amount of filler in every PF album, but considering the lack of killer here, the filler gets even more annoying than usual. The title track and World on Fire are complete filler, incredibly dull and unispired.
But not all is bad. The first track is rather good, even if the main riff and the verse riff ain't jaw-dropping at all. The drum craziness at the start is quite good - at first it looks very awkward, but then you get to appreciate it. The chorus is rather good, but not great either.
The second track might be the best one, even though the keyboards are over-powering and the guitars dissappear completely during the verses. The thing that makes this one rather good are the vocal melodies, which are quite memorable.
Then Fighting the Darkness, the longest track, features a solo section at 4:05 that is completely excellent, and has the big PF mark that we know and love. Starts with a melody full of pinch harmonics and then the second guitar comes in harmonizing, and you know this is gonna be the best solo in the album. Too bad before and after it the band put two crappy sections. In fact, this track is incredibly dragged out with sections randomly placed that do not connect at all, but we can enjoy the good nonetheless.
Another good point: the riff found at 2.10 into 'Blood on Your Hands'. The only riff which I found excellent in this release, and when the drums come kicking back again this is thrash! Too bad that this lasts only a minute, and then we're back to crap-land. As you can see, the good is sprinkled throughout the bad, but I can still stick it out.
Here is how I broke down the score:
1. Sign of Fear 6/10
2. Face the Emptiness 7/10
3. Everytime it Rains 1/10
4. New Religion 3/10
5. Fighting the Darkness 4/10
6. Blood on Your Hands 4/10
7. The Curse of Sharon 6/10
8. Too Much Time 4/10
9. Psycho 0/10
10. World on Fire 3/10
11. The Man (That I Don't Know) 2/10