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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